It is hardly surprising, then, that against this backdrop of economic and social tumult and strife that Kirchner would seek to bring up the Falkland
Islands. Having once fought with Britain over that rocky archipelago of fishermen and sheep farmers in 1982, Argentina's issues of sovereignty and
self-determination have come to the fore again in a series of
Kirchner's latest dig came via an open letter published
in two British newspapers, which called on London to "abide by the resolutions of the United Nations" and "negotiate a solution to the sovereignty dispute"
between them -- in other words, negotiate a way to hand the islands over to Argentina. In so doing, Kirchner set out a case that was startling for its
misuse and abuse of the historical record:
One hundred and eighty years ago on the same date, January 3rd, in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism, Argentina was forcibly stripped of the
Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000km (8,700 miles) away from London. The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the United
Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule.
It does not seem to matter that the Falklands changed hands among various powers (Argentina included) during the 18th and 19th centuries. Neither is it
important to Kirchner, evidently, that British presence on those islands dates back to the 1760s, and that when they came under the control of London again
in 1833, there was barely an Argentine garrison there to speak of. The president also neglects to mention that since 1833, British control of the Falklands
has been peaceful and uninterrupted, save for the war of aggression launched by the Argentine military junta in April 1982.
The response of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also took note of the fact that far from being a colony, as Kirchner asserts, the Falkland Islands are
a self-governing territory with its own constitution, executive, legislature, and judicial system. "The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen
to be so," the FCO said, adding that the Islanders are due to vote in a referendum
on sovereignty this year. "We hope that the outcome will demonstrate beyond all doubt the definitive views of the people of the Falkland Islands on how
they wish to be governed."
While the government's statement was diplomatic if brisk, the response of Rupert Murdoch's tabloid The Sun was rather more trenchant. Reminiscent
of the paper's tactful coverage of the Falklands War in 1982 -- during which it ran with the modest headline "GOTCHA" upon the sinking of the ARA General Belgrano --The Sun published its own letter in
the pages of The Buenos Aires Herald that ended this way:
In the name of our millions of readers, and to put it another way: "HANDS OFF!"
PROSPECTING FOR PEACE