In recent months, the Falkland Islands have again become a heated issue of international realpolitik. Today, the anniversary of the end of the war 30 years ago, is set to see accusations of colonialism and militarisation from the Argentine President at the United Nations.
However, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will face a very different form of rebuttal in New York from the inter-governmental wrangling which has marked the impasse, in the form of a group of young islanders who will be seeking to meet her with a "message of peace" and the argument that they represent a community which is historically part of the region and not just Britain implanted on to an alien landscape.
The group of six women and men, most seventh or eighth generation in the Falklands, feel their voice has been lost in a frenetic war of words between London and Buenos Aires. The conflict in 1982 was described by Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentine poet and writer, as "two bald men fighting over a comb". But the rich pickings from deep water fishing and the discovery of oil has turned the desolate archilpelago into extremely valuable property.
"We are supposed to be in the centre of all this, but we don't think that our views as ordinary people are really being represented," said Ailie Biggs, 29, who runs a chain of stores on the islands. "A lot of the time it is discussions between Argentina and the UK. We are not really often asked our views and we feel, as Falkland Islanders, we can say what we feel and we are the important ones in the equation – we are the ones who live there."
President Kirchner, who has said that she bears no animosity towards the islanders, may find it difficult to turn down a meeting with the young delegation in the full media glare at the session of the Special Committee on Decolonisation.
Caris Stevens, 25, said: "There will also be other South American countries represented, we have had good relations with many of them and it is important to speak to them because Argentina seems intent on trying to isolate us economically."
James Marsh, 31, the only one of the delegates passing through London on their way to the UN to have been born before the war ended, added: "I was two years old and I have some vague memories. But there was real fear among many people at the time of the invasion. It is very sad that after being there for 150 years the Argentine government cannot accept our presence."
Michael Poole, 27, insisted that the new-found minerals should not be a sticking point in establishing normal relations. "We are not dependant on the oil for our livelihood," he said.
"We have offered talks on many occasion on fishing rights and all these things can be sorted out in the future. Argentina has a got a lot more to gain in having a partnership with the Falkands than being in confrontation."
Major General Julian Thompson, the commander of the Royal Marines in the Falklands War, said: "It is absolutely true that the voice of the Falkland Island people have not been heard often enough in this and this is an excellent initiative, more dialogue the better. Some of the noises one has been hearing have been distinctly odd; Hillary Clinton talked about colonialism in terms of geographical proximity – by that reckoning Alaska should belong to Russia and half the states in the American south to Mexico."
- More about:
- New York City