Falkland Islanders Vote To Remain Part Of United Kingdom

Voters in the Falkand Islands voted overwhelmingly to remain part of the United Kingdom:

BUENOS AIRES — All but three voters in the Falkland Islands, the south Atlantic archipelago, cast ballots Sunday and Monday in favor of remaining an overseas territory of Britain.

Argentina claims sovereignty over the clutch of tiny islands 310 miles from its shores, which President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner contends have been illegally occupied by “colonial implants” since the 1830s. A 74-day war that Argentina lost to Britain over the islands in 1982 cost the lives of 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors and airmen, as well as 3 civilians.

Both chambers of Argentina’s Congress are expected to pass resolutions this week rejecting the result of the referendum, in which 1,672 people were eligible to vote.

Education Ministry documents say that Argentina inherited the islands when it won independence from Spain in 1816, while Falklanders say Britain has maintained a claim on the islands since the English sea captain John Davis charted them in 1592.

Britain granted the islanders the right to citizenship in 1983, although some 40 nationalities are represented in the territory.

It strikes me that this should decide the issue regardless of what Argentina things.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    It strikes me that this should decide the issue regardless of what Argentina things.

    (spell check alert)
    Eventually, the British taxpayers may have something to say about it, unless the Falklanders are willing to pick up the considerable defense expenditures associated with this decision. (Actually, a purely for show, non-binding, referendum.) As WAPO quoted a Daily Mirror columnist, “the result’s not in doubt when the Islanders are voting for ‘free money.’ ”

  2. john personna says:

    @gVOR08:

    Is the strategic value in the islands totally gone then?

    Britain did not claim them and hold them for the benefits of the few early settlers. The Falklands were an important port and shelter in the southern oceans.

    (We don’t expect Guam to pay.)

  3. gVOR08 says:

    @john personna: Pretty much. They were a coaling and whaling station. They were also a handy place to ambush the German Asiatic fleet returning to Germany (Battle of the Falkland Islands, 1914). None of the above are terribly relevant in the 21st century. The Brits were trying to find a way to cede the place to Argentina before the Falklands war, so no, they didn’t feel it to be of great value then. Now there is some oil on top of fishing and wool. Bottom line, WIKI lists GDP at $75 million and the Brits are paying more than that to defend the place. It’s a ridiculous anachronism.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:

    Equally anachronistic is Argentina’s claim to ownership on no basis other than physical proximity. If proximity trumps the will of the residents shouldn’t we be able to claim Quebec? After all, they’re right there next door.

  5. Lynda says:

    @gVOR08:
    It is too small a sample to be representative but just asked both sets of my British parents on what they thought of the Falklanders vote.

    They very rarely agree on anything political – one set being ardent Thatcher voters and the other set former hippies who marched against the Iraq war. However both were adamant that as long as the Falklanders who were born on the island want to be British, British taxpayers should pay to defend that decision.

    Both also said that if the islands were uninhabited or only recently settled it would be a different matter – they would support a negotiated handoff to Argentina regardless of any strategic or resource benefits the islands might have.

  6. Hal 10000 says:

    This really is never about the Islands. As with 30 years ago, the Argentine government is hoping for an issue to distract from their awful governance.