Saturday, 16 March 2013

Argentina's Accidentally Racist Agenda

This post might have had more resonance if it were written from the Falkland Islands, where a plebiscite was held a week ago, but a hostel in Istanbul will have to do.

Last Sunday, Falklanders were asked whether or not they wished their island - and home - to remain a British Overseas Territory. 99.8% of people voted 'yes'. Argentina's government immediately - actually, beforehand, preempting the result - announced the referendum to be 'invalid'.

In other words, the people of the Falklands seemingly do not have the same rights as other peoples in other nations. Whilst popular votes in Argentina are a democratic right and a cornerstone of government and society, the same purportedly cannot be said of the Falklands.

For Falklanders, a popular vote is declared 'invalid'. Let us be clear about this assertion. The government of Argentina is declaring that the entire population of a territory - the only inhabitants for two centuries and the only ones ever to have lived there for more than a generation - have no right to decide their own future.

Presumably, in their view, Argentina's government do hold that right. Thus what is being asserted is that the rights of an entire people are worth less than a neighbouring country's tenacious reiteration of a two-hundred-year-old claim which has never been conclusively verified one way or the other.

We could have a long discussion about those claims. I could cite some 17th century treaty; perhaps Argentine readers could cite some other one. This is ridiculous behaviour.

And I'm not suggesting that every Argentine takes the view of their government, any more than every Briton takes the view that we should close our borders or leave the EU. However, it is apparent that many do.

I would ask those Argentine readers - provided they are interested in justice, as opposed to nationalist flag-waving - to consider what they are really demanding. Are they actually asserting that Falkanders don't have the same rights as other peoples? Do they really expect, in 2013, to turn this island and its people into an Argentinian colony? Or, if they are not calling for colonialism, would they like to expel an entire population from their homes in order to adhere to a disputed, centuries-old agreement between a colonial power and a colonial administration which no longer exists as it did then?

If Argentina is the progressive nation it seems to be - I often wish Britain could be as open-minded - then Argentines need to ask themselves a serious question.

Are they calling for a return to colonialism? If not, are they calling for the expulsion of an entire people from their homes? If not, then what? Or is it possible that they haven't quite thought through the implications of what they are calling for at all?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Just one or two points: This isn't a racist agenda, if we are going to bring discrimination into the argument, this would be more along the lines of a xenophobic agenda.
    Secondly this territory dispute is purely political. Argentina has an awful lot of problems at the moment, especially with their social situation and their economy. This was a move to deflect public outcry from the government to the islanders and by extension the UK.
    In that regard, of course Argentina is going to discount the referendum. If we take Argentina's economic situation out of the equation for a minute; it is probably safe to assume that they also believe this referendum to be a purely political move on our part too. Let's be fair to them, it pretty much is, but the bonus is that we hold the moral high ground. However we also hold a vast untapped reservoir of oil, which is probably what the larger issue is. Argentina claims the oil beneath and around the Falklands Islands. The problem is that these islands are not actually within the Argentine border, but currently just outside. By claiming the islands, they would effectively extend their border to encompass the oil.
    Sad but true. This is a world in which oil is more important than people's sovereignty.