FALKLAND ISLANDERS CHOOSE THEIR POLITICAL FUTURE – TO BUENOS AIRES’ CHAGRIN
Barbados may be gripped in a Cash For Gold pawnbroking crisis, but there’s another kind of greed which can create all kinds of chaos… While Mankind continues to depend on fossil fuel any new found reserves may be an opportunity to main the status quo in an energy cycle but it can also bring out the worst in people.
Russia refuses to allow Chechnya to break away partially due to fuel considerations where they can be viewed as a Soviet Texas. However, while the Falkland Islands are halfway around the world and nowhere near as petroleum plentiful, their newly discovered fortunes have revived animosities from Argentina.
Successfully routed in 1982, the Latin neighbours of the Falklands appear keen to resurrect turf-wars which saw many Argentine fall to the blades of Gurkhas, who as Commonwealth members assisted the UK in helping the Falklanders maintain their Overseas Territory status. Decades later, in an effort to stave off such turbulence again the Falkland Islands held a referendum to emphatically prove they wish to remain as part of the UK’s protectorate.
In a special tour across the Caribbean to demonstrate their autonomy in wishing to remain a partner with Great Britain, MLA representative Ian Hansen along with Fisheries expert Emily Hancox (as a part of the Falklands’ youth arm in seeing a brighter future forward) passed through Barbados and are visiting other neighbours in the region to state their case.
Many unusual facts were uncovered about the Falklands in the enlightening meeting I had with Mr Hansen and Ms Hancox… There’s only one bank in the Falklands, no ATM’s, the bank runs from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Do not bother taking a Smartphone to the Falklands, they may have Internet and while they use Twitter and Facebook, the Broadband they use is at a basic level – no 3G nor 4G! Cellphones are strictly for calls, no eMail or any viewing websites!
On the other hand since the Falklands are still at a more rural setting than the rest of the world, Argentina regularly seeks to use this as a means of pressuring the Falklanders. Blue whitings and certain types of squid have been mined to nearly extinction by Argentine fisherfolk – making the Falklands fish industry less than what it used to be. When Falklanders go casting their nets, they get harassed constantly by Argentine Coast Guard and accused of entering Buenos Aires’ territorial waters and prepare to be boarded.
While Argentina may lay a claim for whatever reasons they may so choose, the times have moved on from since Margaret Thatcher in 1982 and even Richard Moody (their First Governor and from Barbados) when the Falklands began their history almost 2 centuries ago. It seems as ridiculous as if Jamaica laid claim to the Caymans (when Jamaica got its Independence they invited the Caymans to join with them but George Town declined)!
If Argentina is so noble, why don’t they insist that Falklands declare themselves as an entity in their own right; why do they change hands from one “owner” to another? Why not urge Bermuda, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos or Anguilla to secede from the UK and/or the Commonwealth?
Then they can push for Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa and the Marshall Islands to break away from the USA’s protectorate too? In fact, there are some who feel the USA has an embargo against Cuba for similar reasons to why Argentina would “possess” the Falklands…
These are views as expressed by a Caribbean person from the outside, who was under no duress to express a view which may please or offend many or nationalities listed… What about a perspective from inside the Falklands?
On the 10th-11th March 2013 the Falkland Islanders voted in their referendum on the political status of the Islands. Islanders were asked the following question:
- The current political status of the Falkland Islands is that they are an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom. The Islands are internally self-governing, with the United Kingdom being responsible for matters including defence and foreign affairs. Under the Falkland Islands Constitution the people of the Falkland Islands have the right to self-determination, which they can exercise at any time.
- Given that Argentina is calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, this referendum is being undertaken to consult the people regarding their views on the political status of the Falkland Islands.
- Should the majority of votes cast be against the current status, the Falkland Islands Government will undertake necessary consultation and preparatory work in order to conduct a further referendum on alternative options.
- Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?
YES or NO
99.8% of the Islanders voted in favour of maintaining the current constitutional arrangement with the United Kingdom. Turnout was 92% (1518 of the 1650 registered voters).
There were just 3 ‘no’ votes.
The result is a clear expression of the Islanders’ wish to remain a British Overseas Territory. An international observer mission monitored the poll and has confirmed the integrity of the process.
Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the Falklands, Ian Hansen is no stranger to Barbados as he was here in November last year and this year he visited Dominica and Trinidad in addition to Bridgetown from 11-15 March, while Sharon Halford MLA will be visiting Grenada, Antigua and St Lucia 15-20 March.
They will be calling on Government ministers, heads of state, speakers of Parliaments and spreading the word about the referendum with the media and with students at colleges and at UWI campuses.
The aim of the referendum is to indicate clearly to the world what the Falkland Islanders wish for the political future of their country. All countries in the independent English speaking Caribbean had the right to decide their own future and most chose the route of Independence.
The inhabitants of the Falkland Islands are claiming they have the right to that same principle of self determination. The community has been established nearly 200 years, settled by voluntary immigration by people from around the world. The referendum will clearly show what political status this community chooses for the future.