Falkland plot exposed: Why Argentina’s president really wrote land grab letter to PM
Argentine presidential front-runner, Alberto Fernandez, has dragged the conflict over the Falklands into his current campaign by claiming he intends to renew claims of sovereignty in the British overseas territory if he gets into power. While it is unlikely that Argentina will try to take the Falklands by force again – as happened during the 1982 ten-week battle which resulted in the UK’s victory – Mr Fernandez is not the only senior politician to try and re-negotiate ownership over the archipelago. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was the Argentine President between 2007 and 2015. Her predecessor was her husband, Néstor Kirchner, and both of them pursued the idea of reclaiming the Falklands throughout their time in office.
She wrote an open letter on January 3, 2013 addressed to David Cameron, urging him to “abide by the resolutions of the United Nations” and to cease “preventing” Argentina “from restoring its territorial integrity”.
She claimed “Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands” on January 3,1833.
Writing in The Telegraph on the day of the letter’s publication, Klaus Dodds said: “Does the very existence of this letter actually tell us something about the underlying anxieties confronting not just President Kirchner but a generation of Argentine nationalists who are passionate about ‘recovering’ the Falklands?”
Professor Dodds commented that the nation “needs to confront its demons and repair its economy” rather than focus on the Falklands.
He continued: “The open letter to David Cameron is actually a sign of weakness, and I suspect desperation, on Argentina’s part.
“President Kirchner is attempting to amend the constitution to allow her to stand for an unprecedented third presidential term – but even if she succeeds, she is not going to ‘recover’ the Falklands.”
In response, Mr Cameron urged her to heed the result of the upcoming 2013 Falklands referendum.
The islanders were to be given a chance to vote on their own sovereignty: they could choose between staying with the UK or going under Argentina’s control.
They voted overwhelmingly to stay as a British territory. Only 0.02 percent said they would like to switch to Argentinian rule, which adds up to only three voters, but Ms Kirchner continued to campaign in favour of regaining the territory afterwards, despite the result.
Professor Dodds also analysed the contents of her 2013 letter: “Towards the end of her open letter, she declares: ’In the name of the Argentine people’, which might make us wonder about just how strongly the country’s 40 million population cares about these disputed islands.”
He continued, explaining that the South American country is “consumed with ‘cartographic anxiety’”.
“From an early age, children are instructed that their country is territorially incomplete. By the time they are at primary school, they will be very familiar with the Falkland Islands, if not with the everyday realities of the 3,000 strong English-speaking community.”
Professor Dodds then said while most of the Argentine public would probably enjoy sovereignty over the Falklands, the most important issues confronting their country are actually “corruption, inflation and poverty”. He referred to the popular protests and looting which took place in cities throughout the country only two months before Ms Kirchner wrote the letter.
He added: “And the country faces the prospect of further economic uncertainty and possible exclusion form the IMF for failing to provide sufficiently robust economic data.
“Worse still, despite attempts to undermine the Falklands community, the prospect of oil and gas exploitation must surely raise the possibility of an increasingly self-sustaining British overseas territory.
“Argentina remains a country that is reluctant to confront its own colonial past. Then there are more recent issues to be faced, such as the violence associated with the military regimes of the 1970s.”
Ms Kirchner also tried to hand Mr Cameron a folder full of potential UN resolutions over the Falklands at the 2012 G20 Summit in Mexico.
She was believed to be acting outside official diplomatic forms of communication so Mr Cameron rejected her proposals.
He said in response that “I am not proposing a full discussion now on the Falklands”, and “we believe in self-determination and act as democrats here in the G20.”