“This isn’t self-determination. It’s a Ruritanian colonial relic” The Guardian says about Malvinas
A columnist for the British newspaper The Guardian said regarding the conflict between Argentina and the UK on the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, “This isn’t self-determination. It’s a Ruritanian colonial relic”.
Columnist Seumas Milne said, “Whenever there’s a 99.8% yes vote in a referendum, it’s a pretty safe bet that something dodgy’s going on. And despite David Cameron’s insistence that the North Korean-style ballot in the Falkland Islands – or Malvinas as they’re known in Argentina – should be treated with “reverence”, that rule of thumb clearly fits the bill in this case.”
“Which is not to suggest that the ballot boxes were stuffed. No doubt 1,514 island residents really did vote in favour of continued British rule. The only surprise was that three islanders dared to spoil the rousing choruses of Land of Hope and Glory by voting against.”
“It’s that the poll was a foregone conclusion and designed to miss the entire point of Britain’s dispute with Argentina over the islands – which began 180 years ago when one of Lord Palmerston’s gunboats seized them and expelled the Argentine administration.”
“What other result could conceivably be expected if the future of the islands is put in the hands of the tiny British settler population, most of whom weren’t born there but are subsidised to the tune of £44,856 a head to keep them in the Rhodesian retro style to which they are accustomed?”
By giving the colonists a veto on any change in the islands’ status, the British government is trying to pre-empt the issue at the heart of the conflict. But it won’t be recognised by Argentina or Latin America, or Africa, or the UN – which regards this relic of empire as a problem of decolonisation – or the US, which is neutral on the dispute. All call for negotiations on sovereignty, which Britain rejects.
But surely the islanders have the right to self-determination, it’s argued, even if they’re 300 miles from Argentina and the other side of the world from Britain. They certainly have a right to have their interests and way of life protected, and to self-government. But the right of self-determination depends on who is deciding the future of what territory – and since the dispute is about whether the islands are part of Argentina or not, it’s also about who should exercise that right.
Self-determination requires a recognised and viably independent people, which is why the UN has rejected its application to the islands. Clearly the residents of, say, the Wallops in Hampshire, with a similar-sized population to the Falklands-Malvinas, can’t exercise such a right. Nor can forced colonisation of other people’s lands legitimate self-determination – otherwise Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank would have the right to decide the future of Palestinian territory.