Monday, 11 March 2013

Someone asked me yesterday

whether the Falkland Islands should be returned to Argentina.
I am not sure they were ever taken away in the first place. If they were then there must be some evidence other than the "they belong to us" argument. I am not sure what that evidence is but it might be a matter for discussion in a place like the International Court in The Hague.
Might. I doubt Argentina will want that - or that Argentinians would be prepared to abide by the decision unless it went their way. The British might abide by it but my guess is that they would remove all Falklanders to the UK and take or destroy anything of value. The Argentinians would then be left with some islands and only the possibility of oil. They would need international assistance for exploration. They do not, to the best of my knowledge, have the money or the expertise to go it alone.
The reason I was asked the question was because the Falklanders are holding a referendum on the issue. The Argentinians say the referendum is "illegal". It is not. Even if the Falklands do end up belonging to Argentina the referendum cannot be illegal. I doubt Argentina has a law which says you cannot ask a group of people their opinion about something. The Argentinians also say the Falklanders are "implants" which makes me wonder what they would do if they did succeed in getting the Falklands (or Los Malvinas as they call them). Would they say the Falklanders were suddenly Argentinian or would they throw them out? There are actually a lot of difficult and complex issues surrounding the problem.
I suspect the result of the referendum is a foregone conclusion. The Falklanders do not want to be Argentinian.
Australia has referenda from time to time. Some have been passed with an overwhelming majority. Most of them have failed. The bar is high - and so it should be. To pass a referendum question has to have the agreement of a majority of voters in a majority of the states.
The questions which are asked are often simple. The issues which surround the question however may be very complex indeed. Voters often see an issue as something which is black or white when in fact it can be many complex shades of grey. 
I think one of the things which bothers me about voting in a general election or on a referendum issue is that we are making a decision not just about the present situation but about the future as well. The government we vote in will have an impact on the future. The referendum questions we answer will shape our future too. In a sense we are trying to imagine what our future will be like if we make one choice over another.
I wonder how many people think of that. 


jeanfromcornwall said...

As a matter of historical fact, the Falklands had a motley assortment of people passing through until the British established a permanent settlement, which was the forerunner of the people who are there now. This all happened before Argentina existed as a nation.
The thing is, I am not too sure that Argentina acknowledges that history has befores and afters, and that they can't go back and change what did or didn't happen.

catdownunder said...

My knowledge of that part of the world is more limited than it should be. (I had no chance to study anything but Australian history in school - anything I know has come from reading!) I rather assumed that was the case from what little I knew. If the Argentinians had a very strong case they would, one assumes, be more willing to state it.