It doesn’t matter that almost 41 years have passed since the Falklands war ended with the British victory over Argentina. Since then, the Latin American country has maintained the demand for the sovereignty of the islands and, far from being just a phenomenon of politics, it is a social claim that is part of the Argentine identity. “Even in the World Cup in Qatar, the most popular song that Argentine fans chanted after the victory made reference to Maradona, Messi and the ‘kids’ from Malvinas, in reference to conscript soldiers,” says Guillermo Carmona, secretary of Malvinas, Antarctica. and Atlántico Sur from Argentina, who spoke to elDiario.es on the occasion of his visit to Spain, where he will meet with different authorities to make this cause visible.
Occupied by the United Kingdom since 1833, the Malvinas Islands have about 12,000 square kilometers of surface area, are located about 500 kilometers from Argentine Patagonia and are a strategic geopolitical place in which the wealth of its natural, fishing, mineral resources stands out. and hydrocarbons. Argentina is confident that it will finally reach a negotiation process with the United Kingdom to recover the sovereignty of the archipelago, although at the moment London does not seem to be up for the task.
In June 1982, the Malvinas War ended, a short but bloody conflict that caused the death of 649 Argentine and 255 British soldiers. What does the Malvinas issue mean for Argentina today?
It is a State policy that has been enshrined in the national Constitution since 1994, where the 190 years of Argentine claim since the British usurpation in 1833 are condensed. Secondly, it is a priority in Argentine foreign policy. It cannot be otherwise if we consider that part of our territory is occupied by a foreign power and, moreover, an extra-regional one. And thirdly, Malvinas is a national cause that mobilizes the whole of Argentine society.
Last year, when we commemorated 40 years of that war, the validity of the cause in the country was reflected. We developed more than 1,000 visibility actions and it was also crowned with the Soccer World Cup, because Malvinas was also present in popular sentiment.
I want to highlight that we are in the 21st century and there are only 17 cases of colonization left in the world, in 10 of them the administering power is the United Kingdom, which speaks of an attitude of reluctance towards respect for international law on decolonization on the part of British governments. It does not seem feasible that the United Kingdom can sustain this type of situation forever.
The war did not achieve what the military of the Argentine dictatorship proposed and, in fact, the defeat precipitated the end of that regime. What was it used for?
Wars are useless, wars occur when they are not avoided. From the point of view of politics and international law, it has to do with de facto situations, not legal ones. In Argentina a very important maturation process has taken place, which has been to honor the fallen and the veterans of the war, at the same time as sustaining the condemnation of the military adventure of the dictatorship. Those who went to war did not decide to make it and neither did they make political or military decisions. The soldiers fulfilled their duty, with their profession. We have matured in this sense, visualizing that the war implied a setback in international and diplomatic politics, setbacks that democratic governments have had to assume; and at the same time, recognizing that situation, we can honor those who gave their lives or put them at risk in that war. This year marks the 40th anniversary since the country recovered democracy and we have the opportunity to value the strong link between the Malvinas and democracy.
The values that we place at the center of our arguments are respect for international law, respect for the territorial integrity of Argentina, the value of diplomacy in the search for a peaceful, negotiated and lasting solution. Our objective is to resume the negotiations that were suspended, not because of the war, but rather that the United Kingdom unilaterally froze them before the conflict, in February 1982.
In 2016, the then President Mauricio Macri reached an agreement with the British government of Theresa May to resume flights from the continent to the islands and the joint exploitation of fishing and hydrocarbons in the maritime zone of the conflict. Is it still valid?
The Macri government advanced in a negotiation with the British in 2016 and, among the many questionable aspects, there was one about the removal of obstacles to the economic and sustainable development of the islands, which implied annulling the legislation on hydrocarbons and fisheries. . The current Government [que dirige Alberto Fernández] has annulled those two provisions.
For the Malvinas issue and others related to sovereignty, the macrismo had a position of resignation and, if it had not been for Congress and the popular social reaction, serious damage would have been inflicted on Argentine foreign policy and sovereign policies. One of the fields where this happened was undoubtedly the Malvinas issue, since President Macri had a condescending attitude towards British claims. The macrismo sought in some way to facilitate the situation of colonial occupation and that produced strong criticism that motivated a greater commitment from the current Government to reposition the Malvinas issue as a State policy.
What we want is to apply the Constitution, which establishes as a permanent objective the recovery of the full exercise of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the corresponding maritime and insular spaces.
Argentina has recently denounced before the United Nations the deployment in the Malvinas of the so-called “Kosovo Security Forces” as well as the exploitation and exploration of natural resources by the United Kingdom in the archipelago. What is happening?
Just over 3,500 people live in the Malvinas, but there is a military strength of about 1,500 troops, it is therefore one of the most militarized territories in the world, apart from the sophistication of the military weapons and the military base that the British have established there. . More recently, another aggravating circumstance appeared, which is the introduction of Kosovar troops for military training, a very serious fact that represents another degree of militarization.
We also highlight the violation of international law by the United Kingdom in fishing and hydrocarbon activity, since resolution 31/49 approved by the United Nations General Assembly prohibits unilateral actions until an agreement negotiated by the United Nations is reached. question of sovereignty.
The UN has called on both countries to resume negotiations, but the United Kingdom relies on the right to self-determination of the inhabitants of the Malvinas to avoid resuming a dialogue. Buenos Aires assures that London violates international law.
On January 3, 190 of the British usurpation were fulfilled. It was a military invasion of the Malvinas Islands that was accompanied by the expulsion of the Argentine population that was on the islands, who were the pioneering Argentines who had continued the Spanish presence before the decolonization process of Argentina, before the revolution May 1810. Pretending that the population that was implanted there as part of the colonialist action is the one that decides who those territories belong to does not conform to the reality of the facts and, in any case, it is the Argentine people that must give an opinion on the facts, which was the displaced person. But it is also contrary to international law, which, based on United Nations resolutions, does not recognize the right to self-determination in cases in which territorial integrity has been affected, as is the case of the Malvinas.
Therefore, Argentina does not recognize the referendum that was held in 2013 in the Malvinas, where 99.8% of the islanders voted in favor of continuing to be a British overseas territory. Is it so?
It is not recognized by the United Nations, it is a referendum of complacency. It is important to emphasize that this false referendum tried to hide in some way the weakness of the United Kingdom’s arguments regarding its colonial occupation of the Malvinas. Argentina recognizes the civil, social and economic rights of the inhabitants who live there as any inhabitant of Argentina, anyone who wants to access the health system or free education, can do so for being an inhabitant of the national territory. And those who were born in the Malvinas, with the mere fact of processing the national identity document, have political rights, can vote and be elected as a candidate [a diferentes cargos]. Argentina responds to the international commitment that is to respect the interests of the inhabitants of the island, respect their culture and customs.
The immigration regime applied by British colonialism in the Malvinas is restrictive and discriminatory towards Argentine individuals and legal entities. It is a colonial regime that tries to give a façade of supposed self-government and the opening of the islands to the world.
But in recent years the Malvinas have been gaining autonomy. The United Kingdom approved a Constitution in 2009 that gives more powers to the governor of this territory and has made progress in economic and social development. If the Malvinas decided to be an independent nation in the next few years, would Argentina agree?
The Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands are Argentine national territory. It does not correspond to the right of self-determination, it is not the will of those who inhabit the islands on whom the destiny of their territories depends. It is a dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
There is a presumably democratic facade around the illegitimate government, the decisions are not made by the presumed Legislative Assembly, but by the current delegate appointed by King Carlos III, the governor of the islands, who has effective control. The highest legislative authority is held by the British Parliament, it is the one that dictates the law for the Malvinas and the rest of the British overseas territories. Regarding living conditions, it is true that after the war the United Kingdom assumed a more active role in terms of the economy and social life of the islands, but it must be taken into account that before the war, those of us who guaranteed living conditions We were the Argentines.
These are two different cases, but what do you think about Gibraltar?
They are two cases with different histories, but they are two cases of colonialism in which the national population that existed before the English invasion was displaced and both are being processed before the United Nations Special Committee for Decolonization. I think that Spain and Argentina have a common fight against these vestiges of colonialism, with very different histories, since Spain also has a colonial past.
The fact that there is a British colony in Europe highlights this persistent colonialist attitude of the United Kingdom, because that it exists in South America or certain places in Africa, the Indian Ocean or Oceania, it could become more naturalized, but that it occurs in Europe is reprehensible.
Due to Spain’s colonial past, do you think it is paradoxical that it claims sovereignty over Gibraltar?
In Argentina, popular sentiment is very much alive in the Malvinas cause, it appears in the different expressions of social life. This has to do with the fact that the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean have a special sensitivity towards colonialism, there may be a different experience there, which does not diminish the relevance of the fight against this remnant of colonialism that persists in Spanish territory. The fact that Spain has a colonial past does not detract from the claim to sovereignty over Gibraltar.