Time and again, efforts are continuously being made by British representatives through the written press to deceive Guyanese public opinion with arguments that the annals of history simply tell otherwise; in other words, an attempt to distort the facts as they actually happened and to conceal the real intentions of colonial occupation.
The letter of the British High Commissioner insists on the fact that “the [Falkland] Islanders overwhelmingly voted to remain British in a free and fair referendum,” in connection with an illegal vote held on the islands last March 2013. This is clearly nothing else but an attempt to shift the focus of debate on the Malvinas Question through a massive political-media operation.
First of all, the self-determination of peoples is not applicable when it comes to the territorial integrity of a state and is not a recognized right for just any human community established in a territory, but only for the peoples. The current inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands [Falklands] are not recognized as a people in the United Nations resolutions; they constitute a British implanted population, unlike classic cases of colonialism, where previously existing peoples are the victim of the establishment of colonial domination.
The United Kingdom occupied the Malvinas Islands in 1833 and expelled the Argentine population and authorities that were exercising acts of sovereignty by virtue of inheriting the lands of the Spanish empire in the southern part of South America as a result of its independence. The British then proceeded to bring in its own settlers and to strictly control the immigration policy of an isolated territory, while refusing to settle the dispute. It is the colonial government, ie, Britain, that decides on the composition of the island’s population.
Notwithstanding, the British High Commissioner not only ignores the historical facts which support the Argentine rights on the islands, but also international law and the numerous United Nations Resolutions which refer to the question of the Malvinas Islands. Neither Resolution 2065(XX), which defines the Question of the Malvinas Islands, nor any of the following 39 Resolutions on this Question make any reference to self-determination. On the contrary, the Question of the Malvinas Islands is considered a special and particular case of decolonization, in which the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom is recognized, which must be settled through bilateral negotiations, taking into account the interests (not the wishes) of the islands’ inhabitants. Furthermore, the General Assembly expressly rejected, on two occasions in 1985, British proposals to incorporate the self-determination principle into the draft resolution on the Question of the Malvinas Islands.
The United Kingdom also omits to acknowledge its own behaviour, which has not been consistent with regard to the principle of self-determination of peoples in the case of the Chagos archipelago, where Britain uprooted the native inhabitants by force, depriving them, even as of today, of their right to return to their land, as well as in the case of Hong Kong, when the UK returned the territory to the People’s Republic of China – the legitimate holder – without asking the opinion of its inhabitants. But, what is even more relevant, the British High Commissioner also avoids admitting that since 1966 to 1982, a bilateral negotiation process took place, during which several ways of resolving the sovereignty dispute were discussed between Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Instead of trying to deceive public opinion and hide the historical evidence, the United Kingdom should resume the negotiation with Argentina in order to reach a peaceful and definitive solution to this anachronistic colonial situation on American soil.
Luis Alberto Martino
Ambassador of Argentina