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Falkland Islanders to Argentina: we'll do what we want

The UK-Argentine tough talk has escalated to a dull roar, but nobody's listening to the Islanders.

Today, on the 30th anniversary of the British invasion of the place, there's talk once again of more war.

In the runup to the anniversary of the invasion — which left about 900 people dead — the UK and Argentina have traded barbed words over who the place really belongs to. Argentines have torched the Union Jack, and lots of people who don't have much to do with the Falklands at all have had their say, including UN officials and the ubiquitous Sean Penn.  

What's been missing in most of the coverage of the diplomatic spat is what the Falkland Islanders have to say about it. 

If you haven't been following along, here's what you missed: The British government considers the Falkland Islands to be what they call a British Overseas Territory — technically belonging to the UK, but allowed to govern itself. Argentina, however, still considers them Argentine turf. They even have a different name for them: Las Malvinas.

The dispute wasn't really a problem of course, until a British oil-exploration firm discovered oil offshore in Falkland waters. 

Read more: Background on the spat

As the UK and Argentina snipe at each other, the Falklands government, which represents about 3,000 people, has been issuing increasingly terse statements emphasizing its right to "self-determination" — which also now means its right to do whatever it wants to do with the newfound oil. 

The Falklands have remained loyal to Britian, and for now it seems to want to stay that way.

Here's a member of the legislative assembly in a statement on March 2:

Negotiations must start from a position of trust, and it is hard to trust a Government who so easily break their word, and who deny our right to exist as a people. 

And again on March 16:

This latest announcement [Argentina's intent to prosecute companies associated with Falkland Islands oil exploration] is yet another example of the Argentine Government’s policy of intimidation and bullying ... Efforts to disrupt trade and sea and air links to the Falkland Islands are illegal, and are entirely counter-productive in developing any relationship between the Falklands and Argentina.

Meanwhile, the British government has made it clear that it would be prepared to defend the Falklands if necessary.

Read more: Will they go to war?

A recent report from the UK National Defense Association considers whether the Brits and the Argentines have what it takes to wage war again on the islands. (They do.) But who would win? The report:

In conclusion, were Argentina to mount an invasion of the Falklands, the UK would be hard put to protect, reinforce or retake the islands. Three decades on from the Galtieri regime’s seizure of ‘Las Malvinas’, history could well be about repeat itself — but this time with a different outcome. 

Surprisingly, given the UK's economic slump and war fatigue from Iraq and Afghanistan, a majority of Britons — 61 percent, according to a recent Guardian poll — say they should "protect" the Falklands "no matter what the cost."

Let's hope they check in with the Falklands folks first.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/chatter/falkland-islanders-to-argentina-we-do-what-we-want

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