I am a Falkland Islander and I would like to respond to some of the points of this article.
Firstly, the Falkland Islands is not a colony, lets make that completely clear. We have our own democracy and civil service. We are self-governing, meaning we set our own budgets, policies, taxes etc, however Britain helps us with defence and foreign affairs. This neatly leads us on to the nature of the article, quite a misleading one.
The Falklands is hugely appreciative of our defence and we will never forget the people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom in 1982. But lets make it completely clear (are you reading this Fernando?) the defence is there because of a very real threat. Just under 31 years ago an aggressive nation invaded our islands and forced an administration upon the islanders that was alien and unwanted. That is why the islands need military defence. It is not a conspiracy of Britain trying to invade South America, (which Argentina alludes to), it is not to force us Islanders to be British and it is not to maintain the Falklands, it is purely for our defence (30 years is not a long time and my family lived through the war).
The Falklands and its people would love nothing more to live in peace and not require a military defence, but it is Argentina’s fault for why we have one. Argentina continues to threaten us, maybe not through military means (even though the Argentine Defence Minister did admit that the current British military presence was the only thing that was preventing Argentina moving in) but through economic and diplomatic. Argentina is trying to destroy our economy and force us to hand our home to them.
The Falkland Islanders have human rights, just like anyone else on the planet. We can determine our political, economic, cultural and social future, and we do that now. Under Argentine control, we would not be given the same rights. The Islands would be controlled remotely from Buenos Aries and not by democratically elected individuals like we enjoy now.
Our defence is costly, but we are British citizens facing a very real threat, just because we are only 3,000 strong and live 8,000 miles away means we are not entitled to have our human rights and freedom guaranteed?
If residents of an insular island community have only ever known one way of life and only ever spoken one language on a day-to-day basis the unknown looks foreboding, whereas cities like London, or Birmingham, or Buenos Aires are cosmopolitan and places where people of all races and backgrounds have had to get along. I would like to see the Falkland Islands reach a negotiated settlement with the UK and Argentina, to continue to have its own administration, which includes representation from all parties with an interest. My vision is for the Falklands to be a bit like the Channel Islands, where French and English are spoken, except where tax-exiles are not allowed to reside.
However, the whole process of settlement gets off on the wrong foot if Falkland Islanders, Argentinians or British, begin by apportioning blame, as the person who left the above comment does. Any islander in the 20 to 30 age group, that is, the generation on whom the immediate future depends, will have no knowledge of what happened in 1982, except from what older residents have told them. It is a good time to negotiate a peaceful settlement that does not include long-term expenditure from the UK taxpayer and satisfies the needs of Falkland Islanders and Argentinians alike. The Argentinians too should spend their money on improving the infrastructure of the islands if they wish to jointly inhabit them. We in the UK have needs of our own. A negotiated settlement is the only way forward in the long term. I would like to ask the Falkland Islander two questions. Is a negotiated settlement a reasonable proposition? Is it reasonable to ask the UK taxpayer to continue to fund Falkland households to the tune of £90,000 every year?