On March 20, 2013, representatives from the Falkland Islands held a briefing to discuss the outcome of a referendum which saw an overwhelming majority of the population pledge political allegiance to Great Britain. Held March 10-11, approximately 92 percent of the 3000 inhabitants turned out to vote, with 99.8 percent casting their ballot in favour of continued British rule.
The move stems from renewed claims by Argentina that the islands rightfully belong to them and not Britain. The belief is that they are constitutionally bound to recover ‘Las Malvinas’, as they are more commonly known to most Argentines.
Falkland Islands legislative assembly member, Honourable Sharon Halford, accompanied by fellow countryman, Michael Poole, met with the local press at the British High Commission seeking further support from the Caribbean.
“We’ve been coming around to try and persuade those who don’t already support us, to support our right to determine our own future, which is provided for in the UN Charter. Last year I was asked, ‘How can we believe what you are saying?’ because the people hadn’t spoken. Well now the people have spoken,” Halford stated.
Located in the South Atlantic Ocean, the Falkland Islands have been at the center of an ownership dispute between Great Britain and Argentina for centuries. In 1982, argentine forces famously invaded the islands leading to a war and ongoing discord with Britain. While the two countries have since resumed diplomatic relations, the situation remains tenuous and at times contentious, with Argentina accusing Great Britain of avoiding procurement of an amicable resolution to the matter.
Despite the escalating dissonance between the two sides, Halford does not expect Argentina to attempt another invasion due to a constitutional technicality.
“Some people have asked us ‘ Well aren’t you worried about Argentina invading?’
and to be fair the answer
would be no, simply because they have it built into their constitution that they
hope to reclaim the island
by peaceful means,” she explained. Halford went on to add, “They never owned them in the first place but they’ve also written into their constitution that the islands are Argentine and they are not able to negotiate simply because of that.”
Halford stressed that despite their loyalty to Britain, the Islands are far from dependent on their mother country. Their reluctance to sever ties is based on several other factors.
“At this moment in time we believe we are too small to be independent. We are internally self-governing and socio-economically self-sufficient. We pay no
taxes to the UK and we
get no handouts from
the UK, other than the
defense and foreign affairs which they do look after,” she revealed.
Both Halford and Poole see the outcome of the referendum as an emphatic statement from the Falkland islanders on their hopes for the country.
“Under the UN Charter everybody has the right to determine their own future. I don’t see why the Falkland Islands people should not have exactly the same right as everybody else exercises in the whole Caribbean and elsewhere in the world.”