Thursday, 7 March 2013

Falkland Islands Referendum this Weekend

On Sunday and Monday the residents of the Falkland Islands will have the chance to vote in a referendum to decide their fate. The question is simple:
"Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?"
I met with a representative of the Falkland Islands Government in London yesterday.
According to the Falkland Islands Government: "We are not a colony of the United Kingdom; we are a British Overseas Territory by choice, which is something entirely different. We are not governed by Britain: we are entirely self-governing, except for defence and foreign affairs."
The question is preceded by the following explanation: "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."
David Cameron has criticised Buenos Aires for "shouting down the islanders' ability to speak for themselves and punishing them for exercising their own free choice". He said Britain would resolutely support the choice the islanders made in a referendum.

He added: "I have always said it is up to the Falkland Islanders themselves to choose whether they want to be British and that the world should listen to their views."

The Argentinians argue that the Falkland Islanders are illegitimate settlers - yet the locals have lived there for 9 generations and nearly 200 years.
Jan Cheek of the Falklands Legislative Assembly recently said: "we are settlers. Like countries across the continent of the Americas, we came into existence through waves of settlement from Europe and elsewhere."

In my view the Argentinian approach is comparable to saying that Americans or Canadians have no right to their country because they were settlers. The BBC has done a good report on the issue here: