Colonialism – South American Style

It’s amazing that the President of Argentina is able to denounce British ‘colonialism’ in the Falklands with a straight face, when half of her country consists of Patagonia, a region seized by force, ethnically cleansed of people of Chilean descent and settled by colonists, where the native peoples were left as second-class citizens – all of which happened far more recently than the alleged expulsion of Argentinians from the Falklands (which, in turn, even if the nature of the Argentine presence had not been altered in the telling, would have been a colony…).

Given that the Falklands lacked any natives and that the small Argentine presence was not a civilian settlement, it is quite right that the UK respect the wishes of the Falklanders, who have lived on the islands for nearly two centuries, and abide by the UN charter’s call for self-determination, and continue to administer and protect the islands until the islanders request otherwise. Rather than trying to impose a latterday colonialism upon the Falklanders, Argentina ought to be looking to resolving issues in its own nineteenth-century colony, Patagonia, where it did steal land from native inhabitants.

It is just a sad thing that, in a world with so many problems and so much oppression and injustice, the Falklands issue keeps coming up, driven by Argentina’s colonialist and militaristic urges, when it is one of the few such disputes where both the past and present situation unambiguously support British sovereignty. There is no history of fluctuating authority or population levels, nor a divided population, nor any oppression (since the Argentinian military were ejected thirty years ago), nor any native population to claim an original occupation. Rather than waste time bickering over the Falklands, we should be able to devote our energies to resolving conflicts and injustices that actually exist. Unfortunately, until Argentina matures into a healthy democracy, that doesn’t seem likely to happen and it is to be hoped that the UK will keep a vigilant eye on the south Atlantic.

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