Who would have thought that this was still such a sensitive issue ? As a Brit I've always assumed that discussions were more or less underway… or that no one really cared one way or another. Well, they certainly do in Argentina.

 

The country is strewn with placards of these (700-odd !) tiny islands, and with monuments to the valiant heroes of the 1982 war. Just like Mrs Thatcher, the military dictatorship benefited from the unifying war effort at a time when support was waning. The Argentine invasion could almost have been planned by the two goverments !

 

The humiliation of defeat has left an open scar on national pride, one which is revived by annual commemorations.  Applications have been made to the Vatican to include the islands in a mainland diocese, so far in vain. But the weather forecasters haven't waited for permission to include them on their maps !

 

Regular petitions are sent the the UN, but the UK is refusing to negotiate.

 

So who should have sovereignty ? Geographically Argentina wins hands down. And historically ? That's the problem !

 

There was no indigenous population when Lord Falkland stopped over in the 17th century, on his way to Chile. The islands remained uninhabited until the French arrived in 1764 from St Malo (hence les Malouines) followed rapidly by Spanish (las Malvinas) and then British and Argentian settlements – a real mess ! In the mid 19th century Britain decided it really was of sufficient strategic importance to be worth fighting over, and sent Scottish and Welsh sheep farmers and fishermen to settle.

 

During the first and second world wars Argentina benefited from the nearby islands and exports soared – think of all that corned beef !

 

The current population (3000, fiercely pro British) is now picking up again as Britain has encouraged Chilean ( !) immigration.

 

Opportunities were lost in the sixties and seventies to find a peaceful handover solution (the islands were becoming costly). Then came the war and the impossibility of losing face, on both sides.

 

Now the situation is even more complex – offshore oil has been discovered… It's not always easy for me to admit to being English !