Argentine President Cristina Fernández appeared today before the UN’s Special Committee on Decolonization to renew calls for Argentine ownership of the Falklands. Though Argentina has owned the islands for a total of seven months (in two separate stays) over the course of a history that saw French, Spanish, British and even U.S. ownership before the islands became firmly British in 1833, many Argentinians view the islands–which lie 450 kilometers to the east of South America–as belonging to their country. Fernández’s visit to the UN coincides with the 30th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War, in which the invasion of Argentina’s ruling military junta was reversed by British forces in a two month conflict that saw 255 British soldiers, 649 Argentine soldiers, and 3 Falkland Islanders killed.
Many see Fernández’s bid for what her country calls the Islas Malvinas as an attempt to distract voters from an economy that in spite of, or possibly because of, pursuing a strenuous policy of the nationalization of major industries, has been floundering in recent years. And though polls consistently show the Falklands Islanders themselves wish to remain British, Argentina has–in a curious turn for a nation that struggled for eight bloody years to gain its independence from a foreign power–questioned the islanders’ right of self-determination. In addition to the Falkland Islands, Argentina also lays claim to South Georgia Islands, the Sandwich Islands, and large swaths of Antarctica.