Falkland Islands An Unsettled Issue 25 Years After War
Contending Claims by Argentina, Britain Burden Relations as Anniversary Nears
By Monte Reel
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, January 8, 2007
BUENOS AIRES -- As they organize separate 25th anniversary ceremonies to remember their war over the Falkland Islands, Argentine and British officials have found that remembering is the easy part.
Resolving, however, is a much trickier proposition.
The windblown archipelago is once again claiming headlines here, climbing back near the top of Argentina's international agenda a quarter-century after its military surrendered the territory to Britain.
Last week Argentina aimed yet another rhetorical dart at Britain, publicly reasserting its claim to islands it says were stolen by the English in 1833. The British should be getting the message by now: President Nestor Kirchner's government in the past year has issued official complaints concerning rights to the islands at a rate of more than one per month.
Meanwhile, Argentina's legislature has convened a committee dedicated to bolstering its claim over the islands, which sit about 350 miles off its coast and where sheep outnumber people by about 220 to 1. The Argentine government has pushed for, and has received, attention from the United Nations, which drafted a committee resolution last year recommending negotiations. Some political leaders in the region, including Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, have also publicly rallied around the cause.
"Until the United Kingdom gives the islands back to Argentina, we have a moral obligation as Argentines to work toward their recuperation," said Santiago Tettamanzi, 69, a former merchant marine who plans to participate in a ceremony in April commemorating the war. "We never lost our rights to sovereignty. Getting them back is a national cause."