On the anniversary of the beginning of the Falklands Conflict: Why UK still wants to work with Argentina by William Hague #military #southamerica #sheep #england #argentina #falklands
“We have apparently reliable evidence that an Argentine task force will gather off Cape Pembroke [East Falkland] early tomorrow morning, 2 April. You will wish to make your dispositions accordingly.”
So read the characteristically understated telegram from the Foreign Office to the Falkland Islands’ Governor, Rex Hunt, dispatched 30 years ago.
And so it came to pass: in less than 24 hours, Argentina’s armed forces had invaded the islands. Thus began a 10-week occupation, ended only by a British task force sent to restore the Falkland islanders’ liberty.
Today’s anniversary of the start of that conflict marks a day for commemoration and reflection, especially for those families – on both sides – whose loved ones were lost to its battles, including many Argentine soldiers who also rest in peace on the islands. In the UK, we will remember those 255 service personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice for an inviolable principle: to restore the Falkland islanders’ right to determine by whom they wished to be governed.
As we look back on those events, we should remind the world that in the years since their liberation the Falkland islanders have repeated – without qualification or equivocation – their wish to keep their constitutional status, their national identity, and to live peacefully with their neighbours in Latin America. As long as the people of the Falklands continue to express that view, the UK will defend and support their right to do so.
Over the past 30 years, much has changed. Despite the challenges of relative geographic isolation, the Falklands have grown and prospered. The population has almost doubled to about 3,000. GDP rose from £5 million in 1980 to more than £100 million in recent years. And in the face of a sustained Argentine effort to prevent them from doing so, the Falkland islanders have developed a thriving local economy, with a responsibly managed fishery, growing tourism based on their unique natural environment, and the beginnings of a commercial hydrocarbons industry.