Right of Reply: A Falkland Islands councillor answers Ken Livingstone's article on the Falklands war

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THE FALKLANDS have been continuously inhabited by families of principally British descent for 165 years and, until the Argentine invasion in 1982, had been a peaceful farming community.

Successive British governments have recognised and supported our right to determine our own political allegiance. This is supported by the UN Charter which clearly states that self-determination is the right of all peoples.

We have full employment, with education, health and other community services free - all issues close to Mr Livingstone's heart.

These achievements are threatened by Argentina which since 1982 has enshrined its claim permanently in the constitution and is threatening economic sanctions against companies involved in oil and fishing in the Falkland Islands.

What it failed to gain by military means it is now intent on gaining by economic blackmail. This is a far cry from the peaceful overtones of President Menem's visit.

The Argentine claim to sovereignty over the Falklands does not have any basis in modern constitutional thinking. A foreign power governing a people of different culture and way of life, against their will, would be unwelcome colonialism of the kind that Mr Livingstone so abhors.

It is to Britain's credit that we are able to determine our own future.

If Argentina were to take a truly democratic and mature view of its position in the South Atlantic it would respect the rights of the Islands and drop its claim to sovereignty, and the threat of economic sanctions.

Then we could all live in peace as good neighbours and truly consign the war to the historians.