Buenos Aires scoffs at Falklands vote to stay British

UK leader Cameron celebrates near-unanimous result and vows to defend islanders' right to decide their own future

Stanley (Islas Malvinas) / Buenos Aires - 13 Mar 2013 - 18:43 CET
Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner holds up a plaque before delivering a speech in 2012.
Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner holds up a plaque before delivering a speech in 2012.JUAN MABROMATA / AFP

Argentina’s Congress held a special session on Wednesday to vote to formally condemn the recent referendum held in the Falkland Islands, in which residents voted overwhelmingly to remain British.

The status vote, held over Sunday and Monday, reiterated islanders’ calls for Argentina to back off from its claims on the South Atlantic archipelago. The plan now is for the Falklands government to send a delegation on a 25-nation tour to explain the vote and drum up support for their desire to remain a British overseas territory.

In Buenos Aires on Tuesday, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner called the referendum “a parody.”

“It was as if a community of squatters got together to decide whether they were going to continue to illegally occupy a building,” she said. In London, Prime Minister David Cameron warned Argentina on Tuesday that Britain would always be ready to defend its citizens.

They want to stay British and that should be respected by everybody, including Argentina”

“The Falkland Islands may be thousands of miles away, but they are British through and through, and that is how they want to stay, and people should know we will always be there to defend them,” Cameron said in televised remarks.

“They want to remain British and that view should be respected by everybody, including Argentina,” he added.

The demand by Argentina for the return of the Falklands has stepped up in recent years after potential oil reserves were found surrounding the archipelago. The Argentineans maintain the islands were illegally taken by the British in 1833.

In 1982, Argentina went to war with Britain after the military invaded the islands on the orders of then-dictator General Leopoldo Galtieri. Around 650 Argentines and 255 Britons were killed during the 74-day conflict.

“For the first time in our long history it is impossible for anyone to misinterpret our feelings about our relationship with Great Britain,” said a spokesperson for the Falklands Islands’ eight-member legislative assembly.

Of the total of the 1,517 valid ballots cast, 98.8 percent voted in favor of remaining British. The South Atlantic archipelago has a population of about 3,000.