Sunday, March 10, 2013

Global Impact: Update--Fernández Insist Falklands Islanders Have No Say in Sovereignty, Referendum May Say Otherwise

According to the BBC, the 1,672 British citizens who reside in the Falklands Islands and are eligible to vote in today's and Monday's referendum on whether the Falklands should remain a British Overseas Territory are expected to vote for their continued allegiance to the UK. We'll report on this on Tuesday (March 12).

Conversely, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has said the inhabitants' wishes are not relevant in what is solely a territorial issue to be solved between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

Unfortunately, in 1982, Argentina's junta at the time declared war on the UK, only to be later ejected from the islands by a British task force that resulted in Argentina's surrender after hostilities that lasted 74 days, without ever reconciling their territorial dispute. 

Most Argentines, on the other hand, refer to the Falklands as Las Malvinas, and even describe their territorial claim in the country's constitution.

COMMENT: The British voters, who dominate the islands' inhabitants, are expected to vote vigorously to remain British citizens.

As the referendum approached, many British citizens in the Falklands voiced their patriotism by dressing in apparel forming the Union Jack.

Election observers from different countries are overseeing the vote, including representatives of Chile and México, despite an Argentine request for Latin American countries to not participate.

Unfortunately, Argentina's objection to the UK's claim that the Falklands are a British Overseas Territory are expected to escalate once the results are reported on the referendum.

That no doubt will result in increased tension between London and Buenos Aires, as both governments insist that there is no room for negotiation.

It is doubtful that diplomatic relations between the two nations could be in jeopardy, yet one never knows.

Although the referendum has enormous value  in London, Buenos Aires views the vote has having no bearing on the turf battle.

Unless a neutral third-party emerges to mediate the territorial dispute, it is expected that tensions between the two countries will continue to rise.

For those who may not remember, the US assisted the UK militarily during the 1982 war, although in today's world, US Secretary of State John Kerry refuses to "choose sides." Failure to stand with the UK this time might well have political consequences for the US.