Thursday, January 03, 2013

Fisking Cristina Kirchner


The President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who is facing a re-election challenge, has sent a spectacularly silly letter to DC, and wasted some of Argentina's scarce cash buying adverts to put it in British newspapers.

Here is her letter, text in bold underlined, with a little light fisking (in parenthesis and italics)


Mr Prime Minister David Cameron,

(well, I suppose you had to get something more or less right)

One hundred and eighty years ago on the same date, January 3rd, in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism,

(as opposed to the 20th and 21st-century colonialism which the 1982 invasion and your letter represent)

Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands,

(This is a massive oversimplification. Britain had first claimed the Falkland islands in 1765. There was a dispute with first France and then Spain. The original British and Spanish settlers were withdrawn in 1774 and 1811, both leaving behind plaques maintaining their claim.

In 1828 a freelance settlement was established which was authorised by both Britain and Argentina. The settlers got into a dispute with the United States of America. After the settlers detained American merchant vessels, the United States responded by sending the sloop USS Lexington. The captain of the Lexington arrested the seven senior leaders of the colony, accusing them of piracy, and forcibly removed them. They were later released in Montevideo without charge.

In November 1832 the Argentine authorities sent a commander and a small contingent of troops to found a penal colony on the Falklands. Their commander was almost immediately killed in a mutiny. On 3rd January 1833 - the date referred to in the Argentine President's letter - the Royal Navy asked the survivors of this garrison to leave, which they did. The settlers were allowed to stay, and most did. )

which are situated 14,000km (8700 miles) away from London.

(They are also more than a thousand miles from Buenos Aires. The distance from Port Stanley to the Argentine capital is 1898 kilometres or 1180 miles. The islands are some 310 miles from the Patagonian coast and 280 miles from the tip of Tierra Del Fuego.)


The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy

(That is downright mendacious. The survivors of the garrison sent to establish the failed penal colony were expelled: the Argentine settlers were given the choice to remain, which most of them took. It is the fact that most of their descendants would rather live under British than Argentinian rule which really annoys the latter country.)


and the United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule.

(You mean like the implantation of Spanish people into what is now Argentina, displacing the indigenous population of that area?

Or like Argentina was apparently planning to do to the Falklands had their garrison not been expelled, since they were trying to set up a penal colony!)


Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity.

(What territorial integrity? The islands have never been effectively part of Argentina which is separated from them by nearly 300 miles of ocean. If you applied the principle that a country can claim a populated island up to 300 miles away even if the population of the island don't want it because of a tenuous centuries old claim and because it looks sensible on a map, you would start or re-start some truly horrendous wars)

The Question of the Malvinas Islands is also a cause embraced by Latin America and by a vast majority of peoples and governments around the world that reject colonialism.

(That sentence does not make a lot of sense. How can a question be a cause? What does this statement mean? Some of Argentina's friends and Britain's enemies claim to see merit in Argentina's case. But to claim support from the "vast majority of peoples and governments" Argentina has to totally twist the meaning of the resolutions and motions they have cited, a prime case in point being ...)

In 1960, the United Nations proclaimed the necessity of “bringing to an end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations”.

(This is a REAL cheek. It appears to be a reference to United Nations resolution 1514 (XV) passed in 1960 and  known as the 'Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples'

which affirmed that

"all peoples have the right to self-determination, and by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development"

and declared that immediate steps should be taken in

"territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed will and desire, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom".

Most of which is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what Argentina is demanding in the Falklands, The decolonisation resolution talks about all peoples having "the right to self-determination" - a right which Argentina wants to deny to the people of the Falkland islands!

The UN resolutions Argentina is quoting are about independence from colonial powers and self-determination. To cite them as support of the idea of transferring a territory from one colonial power to another against the wishes of the inhabitants is worse than misleading - it is a downright lie.


In 1965, the General Assembly adopted, with no votes against (not even by the United Kingdom), a resolution considering the Malvinas Islands a colonial case and inviting the two countries to negotiate a solution to the sovereignty dispute between them.

(If Britain had thought that Resolution 2065 (XX), passed in 1965, meant what Argentina is now claiming it meant, Britain could and would have vetoed it.

This resolution called on the Governments of Britain and Argentina "to proceed without delay" with  sovereignty negotiations and also said that these negotiations should be conducted "bearing in mind.... the interests of the population of the Falkland Islands". 

But it is ridiculous to accuse Britain now of ignoring a resolution passed nearly fifty years ago calling for negotiations, given that those negotiations duly took place over the following two decades. 

For the next 16 years or so Britain did negotiate, in good faith, with successive Argentine governments, to try to find a diplomatic solution to the sovereignty dispute. The negotiations did not succeed because none of the proposed solutions were acceptable to the islanders themselves.

The final round of these negotiations took place in 1981, a few months before the fascist Junta which was running Argentina in 1982 changed the situation by attacking the islands and being the first side to resort to military force.

The impact of the invasion was to make the islanders themselves all the more determined to resist any proposal  to put them under Argentine rule, and to make the British public determined that the sacrifice of our armed forces should not be wasted.

The moment that the first British sailor died in the war to retake the Falklands it became inconceivable that within the lifetimes of those who remembered that conflict that the cause for which our soldiers, sailors and airmen fought and died - the right of the islanders to self-determination - should be abandoned.)

This was followed by many other resolutions to that effect.

(The General Assembly passed two similar resolutions in 1973 (resolution 3160 (XXVIII)) and 1976 (resolution 31/49). Both called for negotiations which subsequently took place - more than three decades ago.)

In the name of the Argentine people, I reiterate our invitation for us to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner
President of the Argentine Republic

Those resolutions  call for negotiations, which have already taken place - three decades ago.

Given that Resolution 2065 (XX) specifically referred to the interests of the population of the Falkland Islands, the fact that Britain took account of their wishes hardly constitutes a failure to abide by the resolutions of the security council.

The Falklands government will be holding a referendum on the future of the islands next year. I await with interest the outcome of that vote.

Since "the resolutions of the United Nations" clearly indicate a wish to respect the rights of all peoples under "colonial rule" to self-determination, I invite Argentina to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations by respecting the results of that referendum, whatever it may be.

2 comments:

Tim said...

I, for one, would find this kind of thing rather more convincing, if only you were equally vociferous and chauvanistic regarding the rights of self determination of the Chagos Islanders.

Chris Whiteside said...

First, I don't accept that there was any chauvinism in what I wrote, although I think that charge could be levelled at some of the more provocative statements of both the Argentine government and some of those who have been particularly strident in putting the case against them - I don't think the letters placed in either country's newpapers were particularly helpful, for instance.

Second, I don't want to see another war over the Falklands. The last one happened because the Junta didn't think that Britain had the will to hold on to the islands. That miscalculation cost nine hundred and seven human lives. It is really important to avoid the kind of mixed signals which might lead to any future Argentine government repeating Galtieri's mistake.

With regard to the Chagos Archipelago, I am far from happy about the way that successive British and American governments have handled the issue. One of the last actions of the 1997-2010 Labour administration was to declare a marine nature reserve around the Chagos archipelago known as the "Chagos Protected Area," which has been alleged to have been designed to prevent any possibility of the Islander's return, while parliament was in recess for the 2010 election.

I would like to see a solution negotiated between all parties which respects the interests and wishes of the Chagos Islanders.