Falkland Islands War: Will The Islas Malvinas Ever Be Argentine?

The Falkland Islands War, or Islas Malvinas as the territory is called in Argentina, is a conflict still fresh for many despite the fact that the battle kicked off 34 years ago. For many in Argentina, it’s representative of the sovereignty conflict between the European empires and their former colonies — specifically the bad blood between England and Argentina.

Though the Falkland Islands War ended more than three decades ago, the dispute has continued to cause problems in the political arena. A recent United Nations ruling, based on the limits of Argentina’s continental shelf, extended the country’s maritime territory by 7 million square km. (0.66 million square miles). In that stretch were the Islas Malvinas, though the U.K. government denies they are subject to the ruling. Argentine foreign minister Susana Malcorra praised the decision.

“This is a historic occasion for Argentina because we’ve made a huge leap in the demarcation of the exterior limit of our continental shelf. This reaffirms our sovereignty rights over the resources of our continental shelf.”

For the British, the victors of the Falkland Islands War, the disputed area stands as a testament to their ability to defend what is — in their opinion anyway — rightfully theirs. British ownership of the Islas Malvinas is clear to them: Argentina lost the war its military dictatorship started to take them back, and now they will forever stay linked with England.

In Argentina, it’s not quite that simple. Valuable oil and water resources on the Islas Malvinas have fomented the national call to snatch the Falklands back. Wisely, the Latin American nation seems to have grasped that war isn’t the answer. Argentina’s military strength is dwarfed by that of the United Kingdom, which boasts a $60 billion budget, more than 10 times that of Argentina.

Falkland Islands War Guerra de Islas Malvinas
British troops showed up to defend the Falkland Islands from the Argentine military junta’s push to make them the Islas Malvinas again. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

That fact isn’t lost on the U.K. In an opinion piece for The Telegraph earlier this week, retired British Army colonel Tim Collins mocked Argentina’s call for the return of the Falkland Islands, and condemned the UN’s decision to extend Argentina’s maritime territory given how much more funding England pours into the global institution. In line with many other British officials, Tim discounted the Islas Malvinas claim as nothing more than political theater created to distract Argentinas from the country’s dismal economic performance.

“Argentina has gently withered to a shadow of a country thanks to political and financial mismanagement during the Kirchner regime. Drug traffickers from Bolivia and Peru are running their cargoes through the country because the infrequently paid police force is rarely to be seen. The Argentine military is disintegrating.”

Falkland Islands War Guerra de Islas Malvinas
Call it the Falkland Islands War or the Guerra de Islas Malvinas — either way you’re sure to offend someone. (Photo by Martin Cleaver/Pool/Getty Images)

It’s extremely unlikely that the Falkland Islands dispute will ever come down to military force again, particularly under the new government of Mauricio Macri. Yet even the neoliberal Macri, condemned by the country’s left for selling out the country to first-world interests, still seems to indicate that the Islas Malvinas are rightfully Argentina’s. In a Facebook post commemorating the war’s 34th anniversary, the head-of-state seemed to believe they were still within the country’s grasp, reported La Nación.

“These islands in the Atlantic that bring us all of these memories continue to be inexorably ours: we wait for them with a continental patience. We will return. We will keep following the path that today has taken us to the UN — using the force of dialogue, the force of truth and the force of justice.”

Despite all the discussions about the Falkland Islands War, or Guerra de Islas Malvinas if you’re Argentine, those who are inhabiting the area have clearly asserted that they wish to remain a British territory. In 2013, a referendum of 1,518 votes had just three participants who did not wish to remain a possession of the United Kingdom — indicating that 99.8 percent of Falklanders/Malvineros don’t want to return to Argentina, reported The Telegraph.

[Image via Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]

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