Falkland Islanders to Vote on Status

Via the BBC:  Falklands referendum: Islanders vote on British status

The islanders decided to hold the vote in response to Argentine pressure for negotiations over sovereignty.

Some 1,672 British citizens – out of a population of about 2,900 – can vote.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has said the inhabitants’ wishes are not relevant in what is a territorial issue.

Most Argentines regard the islands, which they call Las Malvinas, as Argentine and their recovery is enshrined in the national constitution.

While I understand the long-term claim by Argentina over the islands, and the nationalistic politics that surround that claim, I have to confess it is rather difficult to get around the fact that the people living on the island do not have any connection to Argentina, nor do they wish any.  And given that the actual dispute over the territory is based in actions almost two hundred years ago, the basis for ousting these residences and/or transferring sovereign control over them seems flimsy at best.

Of course, the bottom line is that there will be no transfer of control and Argentines will continue to assert claims.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Latin America, Quick Takes, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Davebo says:

    Argentines are a funny lot. They look down their noses at their neighbors considering themselves superior based on some sense of them being “more European” than those silly Chileans, etc.

    Given a choice I’d guess the rest of South America would prefer they join Antarctica.

  2. Andre Kenji says:

    I´m a Brazilian. I do not care whether these stupid isles are Argentinean or not. But I do care about European troops being stationed in my neighborhood, and I don´t like the idea. We also should have a say about that.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    One of the world’s sillier issues. Prior to the Argentine invasion and the Falklands war, the British were trying to find a way to transfer the place to Argentina, but couldn’t get around the objections of the Falklanders.

    Per Wiki, Falklanders provide £400,000 for the Falklands Island Defense Force, a “light infantry company”. Meanwhile, the British government provides air, sea, and land defense with a garrison of 1200 and a backup Joint Rapid Reaction Force at a cost (FY04/05) of £365 million [657 million US$ then]. 657M$ / 1,672 = $393,000 per Brit citizen.

    The linked article quotes a Falklands politician saying of union with Argentina, “That may well happen in 50, 70, 100 years’ time, but now we are very happy with our relationship as it stands with the UK,” With those numbers, I bet they are.

    If the Brits had any sense, they’d offer the Falklanders a deal – Here’s half a mil cash and transport to where ever you want to go. If you stay, you’re on your own.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    I think there’s a larger issue that’s worth discussing here. What’s the role of self-determination in determining national affiliation? What’s its unit of measure? If it’s the individual, how will that work out?

  5. Dave Schuler says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    I sympathize with your position. Prior to the Falklands War the only British military presence on the islands was a small contingent of Royal Marines, there solely to provide a military presence. The build-up of forces is, then, largely the outcome of the war. If your objective is reducing European military presence in the vicinity perhaps it would better have been accomplished by the Argentinians not invading the islands.

  6. Franklin says:

    Many of the same questions can be applied in various places around the world … I’m thinking about some of the “countries” that “belong” to China, for example. Or Puerto Rico, etc.

    I’m not smart enough to answer Mr. Schuler’s questions coherently. But for the most part it is in everybody’s interest to be part of a local group whose members take care of each other.

  7. Andre Kenji says:

    @Dave Schuler: The Argentinean dictatorship that invaded the f** isles(tm) ended thirty fucking years ago(And I despise every Argentinean president since Alfonsin). Now, these f** isles are going to resemble the old traditional colony because they are going to drill oil there.

    What I´m tired is to see a bunch of gringos talking about these isles as if the rest of continent does not exist. If the islanders want “self-determination” that´s OK with me. Permanent British presence there is not.

  8. rudderpedals says:

    The Falkands, Bouvet, the S Sandwitch island, aren’t these all former coaling and whaling stations lacking an indigenous population (but very popular ham radio DXpedition sites). ISTR they are so who else to ask but the current inhabitants?

  9. Dave Schuler says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Insofar as the reason that British forces are in the Falklands, there are alternatives. For example, Brazil and Chile could guarantee the citizens’ there right of self-determination in exchange for reduced military presence.

    If your complaint is that the people who live here don’t belong there, who’s to say? That’s the essence of my question. When did your ancestors arrive in Brazil?

  10. Brett says:

    Why does the British government even bother giving more than a perfunctory response on the issue when Argentina brings it up? They ought to just issue a form statement that says, “As long as the inhabitants who have lived there for nearly two hundred years continue to choose to remain part of the United Kingdom, we will continue to defend their rights against foreign aggression.”

    @gVOR08

    If the Brits had any sense, they’d offer the Falklanders a deal – Here’s half a mil cash and transport to where ever you want to go. If you stay, you’re on your own.

    Not a chance, now that there might be oil and gas in the Falklands waters.

    @Andre Kenji

    What I´m tired is to see a bunch of gringos talking about these isles as if the rest of continent does not exist. If the islanders want “self-determination” that´s OK with me. Permanent British presence there is not.

    If you can get the Argentinian government to officially recognize the islands as British (and call them the “Falklands”), then the British would be more than happy to remove the troops.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @Brett: According to Wiki, maybe 60 million barrels, worth, say, a round $100 per. That’s 6 billion dollars. Wiki has old numbers, but the Brits were paying $650 million to defend the place. See @gVOR08 above. So if all the oil revenue went straight to the UK government, it’d pay for like 9 years of what they’ve paid to defend the place for the 30 years since the war. Not counting the war.

    The Falklanders sound typical of libertarians of my acquaintance, determined to do what they feel is their right. Self determination is nice, but shouldn’t the people footing the bills have some say?

  12. grumpy realist says:

    Actually, Cristina is raising the issue to obfuscate exactly how badly she’s been running Argentina….typical political procedure.

  13. Tano says:

    “Self determination is nice, but shouldn’t the people footing the bills have some say? ”

    What are you talking about? The Brits are footing the bill, and they certainly have the power to continue the relationship or end it whenever they choose to.

  14. Tano says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    ” If the islanders want “self-determination” that´s OK with me. Permanent British presence there is not.”

    What is wrong with a permanent British presence?
    How do you resolve the obvious contradiction in your two sentences above? Namely, that the islanders seem likely to continue to express their “self-determination” to be part of Britain, and that reality is probably permanent.

    If the islanders will always want to be British, then Britain will properly have a presence there always.

  15. Joey says:

    they are going to drill oil there. http://www.hqew.net

  16. Joey says:

    the people living on the island do not have any connection. http://www.hqew.net