sami: (Default)
Sami ([personal profile] sami) wrote2015-06-09 11:17 am

A nation of contradiction

I'm gradually working my way through a biography of Pope Francis. As I read the section about his youth, this naturally involves learning more about the Argentina in which he grew up: a nation in which, as far as I can tell, for many decades a bunch of people did the wrong thing for the right reasons, or the right thing for the wrong reasons, or just the wrong thing for wrong reasons, but other people had their own reasons to think it was right.

It at least becomes slightly less surprising that Argentina could produce Diego Maradona, someone who can be a flagrant cheat and smugly arrogant about it, and even make a hero of him anyway.

Doesn't quite excuse the whole Falklands thing though, even though the weirdly counter-intuitive pattern of Argentinian political history continues there: after all, what you have in the disagreement over the Falkland Islands is a situation where it's Britain vs a foreign power that was once subject to European colonialism, but Britain is actually in the right, which usually never happens.

I figure that's probably why so many people - even English people - assume that Britain is in the wrong on the Falklands, but they're just not. There is, in my view, no argument on which you can base a real case for Argentinian possession of those islands.

First, the clearest (in my view) moral question: What do the people who live there want? Answer, as provided by voting: they unequivocally want to stay British.

Second, though, what about historical claims?

Answer: Argentina's is questionable at best, nonexistent at worst.

The Falkland islands, as discovered by the British, were uninhabited. (There is apparently some archaelogical evidence that South American natives may have visited the relatively barren and storm-lashed rocks that are the Falkland Islands, decided they didn't like them very much, and left again, but the islands had no indigenous population and no trace of pre-Columbian buildings has been found.)

The first proper settlements were made by France and Britain. The Spanish attacked it a bit later. Britain withdrew for a while, leaving behind a plaque declaring it was still totally theirs. The Spanish pulled out (also leaving a plaque) and whalers used it as a base for a bit. Some settlements were attempted out of the United Provinces of the River Plate, which would eventually become Argentina. They didn't go very well. Britain returned and took over in the early 19th century.

If it was ever properly an Argentine territory, it was such only between 1820 and 1833. The Argentine Congress protested British occupation until 1849, then didn't mention it again until 1885, and while the Argentine government maintains it totally protested all the time, like seriously, there's no official record of their making an issue of it from then until about 1950 - but they have to claim otherwise, because under international law, generally speaking if you don't make an issue over territory for fifty years, you don't have a claim any more.

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