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Freedom Day for Argentina, economic breakdown for Falkland Islands


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By Gaurav Sharma

Argentina, the South American giant defined by the majestic Andes mountains, pristine glacial lakes and verdant Pampas grasslands celebrates its Independence Day today.

Known for reinventing the sensuous dance of Tango, gastronomy of luscious steaks and riveting style of football, Argentina has seen its fair share of controversies. The most noteworthy among them being the discovery and subsequent colonisation of the Falklands islands.

Although presently the Falkland archipelago, along with South Georgia and South Sandwich islands are official territories of United Kingdom, Argentina persists with total stakeholder claims over the islands.

Falklands Dispute

Numerous countries have invaded and staked control over the nation, beginning with French colonization, moving towards a long phase of Spanish settlement and a transitional shift towards an equally long British subjugation merged with an Argentine ownership claim.

In 1982, the dispute between Argentina and Britain transformed into a full-fledged war. Caught in the midst of a devastating economic crisis and violent civil unrest, Argentina invaded and controlled the islands for 74 days. Soon, Britain launched a diplomatic offensive and gained the support of the United Nations for wrestling control over the islands.

Following a naval engagement, Britain ousted the Argentine occupation of the islands and reestablished supremacy over them.

Presently, Falklands Islands is a British Overseas Territory with a degree of internal self-government. Issues pertaining to defense and foreign affairs are handled by Britain.

Flame rekindled into raging conflagration

With the discovery of oil blocks on Falkland’s  shores, the controversy over ownership which had subsided following the British conquest, have resurfaced.

Six companies, 3 belonging to the US and the rest to Europe which are drilling for oil near the islands have come under intense attack from Argentina. The Argentinian court has ordered the seizure of assets of these companies worth about $156 million.

While Argentina, along with its Middle Eastern allies such as Iran accuses UK trawlers of subjecting migrant workers to psychological and physical abuse and plundering Falkland’s natural resources, the US and Britain dub its move as “an orchestrated smear campaign against the islanders.

The controversies have snowballed further into a geopolitical nightmare as Argentina has decided to restrict the availability of fresh fruit available to the island from neighbouring countries.

Following the economic bullying, prices of food have spiked up drastically, with one apple costing 80 pennies and islanders forced to shell out an exorbitant 6 pounds for a punnet of grapes.

Shouting slogans against the fishing activity in and around the Falkland area has also brought Argentina under a dubious light, as fishing contributes 50 to 60 per cent of Falkland’s Gross Domestic Product(GDP).

Straddling stocks, or fishes which migrate from one water to another in the South Atlantic, are also under dispute. The issue has been reignited after Argentina pulled out of the joint scientific meetings between the two nations in 2005.

Present Status

The persistent and ongoing attempts by Argentina to reign in the ownership of the islands are nothing more than bullying tactics precociously bending towards harassment“, say British officials.

To corroborate their views, they point to the 2013 referendum in which Argentina’s call for the islands’ sovereignty, had been overwhelmingly rubbished by the islanders who instead voted for continuation of their present status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.

Argentina, on the other hand contends that the resolution was passed by “an implanted population” and accuses Britain of living a “fake reality”.

“Britain wrote the book on colonialism, but now they are trying to tell us this is a case of self-determination”, says Argentine foreign minister Hector Timerman.

Also, when Britain which is itself one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council(UNSC) holding veto power passes or supports resolutions at the UN, it seems like a farce miles apart from credible reality.

The membership of the UNSC is undoubtedly a pricking issue that needs to be resolved through expansion of the number of members or quashing it altogether.

The British conflict-of-interest notwithstanding, the undisputed fact is that Argentina should respect the mandate of the people.

For the interest of people living in Falkland Islands, Argentina on its Independence Day, should make a resolution to allow them to live freely without any economic threat.

Geopolitically, the ownership issue can and should be pursued through diplomatic avenues following whose failure people should have the unequivocal right to determine their fate.

Next Story

Trump Gets the Royal Treatment with State Visit to the United Kingdom

U.S. President Donald Trump is in Britain for a visit that includes meeting with the royal family

Trump, Royal Treatment, United Kingdom
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (2L), U.S. President Donald Trump (L), First Lady Melania Trump (C), Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales (2R) and Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall pose for a photograph ahead of a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace, June 3, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump is in Britain for a visit that includes meeting with the royal family, a state dinner and talks with outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May.

The day full of pomp and circumstance began with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth greeting Trump and his wife Melania after they arrived at Buckingham Palace by helicopter Monday. After a welcoming ceremony that included a 41-gun salute, the Trumps had a private lunch with the queen and a tour of the palace art gallery.

Trump, Royal Treatment, United Kingdom

U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania, left, pose for a photo with Britain’s Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall prior to afternoon tea at Clarence House, in London, June 3, 2019. VOA

The rest of the day included inspecting the Guard of Honor formed by the Grenadier Guards, a tour of historic Westminster Abbey, and tea with Prince Charles at his London home, Clarence House.

But the highlight of the day was the white-tie-and-tiaras state banquet at Buckingham Palace. Besides the queen and her husband Prince Philip, other royals in attendance included Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince William and his wife, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge.

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Also at the dinner were Trump’s four adult children — Donald Trump Jr.; Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner; Eric Trump and his wife, Lara; and Tiffany Trump.

Trump said in this toast that the liberation of millions from tyranny in World War II “forever sealed” the bond between Britain and the United States.

Trump, Royal Treatment, United Kingdom

U.S President Donald Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania and Britain’s Prince Andrew, second left, places a wreath on the Grave of the Unknown Warrior during a tour of Westminster Abbey in central London, June 3, 2019. VOA

In her toast, the queen said, “Tonight, we celebrate an alliance that has helped to ensure the safety and prosperity of both our peoples for decades, and which I believe will endure for many years to come.”

Noticeably absent from the Trumps’ day was Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, the American-born wife of Prince Harry who is on maternity leave after giving birth to a son last month. She had been critical of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Before leaving Washington, Trump said his trip would be “very interesting” and that he thinks the United States and Britain have an opportunity to work out a “very big trade deal” in the near future.

Trump wades into Brexit debate

His visit comes as Britain is in the midst of political turmoil, as May is scheduled to resign on Friday after failing to complete Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Trump, Royal Treatment, United Kingdom
U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth review items from the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace, June 3, 2019. VOA

That process will be inherited by her successor, with no clear path to a resolution among sharply divided parties.

Trump has publicly backed former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, and told reporters late Sunday he may meet with Johnson and pro-Brexit politician Nigel Farage while he is in London.

‘Stone, cold, loser’

What is certainly not on his agenda is a meeting with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who wrote in The Observer newspaper that welcoming Trump for a state visit is “un-British.” He cited Trump’s sharing of tweets from a “British far-right racist group,” the president’s rejection of scientific evidence of climate change, and Trump “trying to interfere shamelessly” in the race to replace May.

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When asked if he would be open to meeting with Khan, Trump said Sunday, “No, I don’t think much of him.”

Upon landing in London, Trump continued his attack on Khan, calling him a “stone cold loser” who “has been foolishly ‘nasty’ to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom.”

Trump’s trip will also include D-Day commemoration ceremonies in both Britain and France, and a stop in Ireland. (VOA)