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Referendum spoke clearly, say Falkland islanders
Islanders Ian Hansen and Emily Hancox told a gathering at UWI St Augustine that they wish to remain a British overseas territory even as diplomatic and political overtures continue between Britain and Argentina over ownership of the Falkland Islands/Las Malvinas. British High Commissioner Arthur Snell was present, but no one from the Argentina Embassy showed. “In the spirit of diplomatic dialogues, we were hoping to have a representative of the Argentina Government here today but that didn’t happen,” Snell said.
“But I don’t want anyone to think we are not open to the concept of dialogue.” The approximately 3,000 islanders last week voted overwhelmingly to remain a British territory through a referendum. Hansen, a member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, and Hancox, an islander, said during a discussion titled Sovereignty and Self-determination: Discussion of the Falkland/Malvinas Islands Referendum that the referendum was initiated by the people of the islands and it was done in a “correct and international manner.”
Hansen said the islands are fairly wealthy and acquire their wealth mainly through fisheries, tourism and agriculture. He added that the islands are also conducting oil explorations which by 2017 could change the islands’ economy. He said they depend on Britain for military support and nothing else.
Islanders have been visiting Caribbean countries, including Barbados and T&T, to lead discussions on the issue. Stating that the islanders have a fundamental right to self-determination, Hansen said he believes Argentina is saying, “everyone has a right to self-determination but the Falkland Islands” even though it is enshrined, not only in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1514, but in the Falkland Constitution.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also drew newly-elected Pope Francis—an Argentinian—into the diplomatic row. As Cardinal Jorge Marin Bergoglio, Pope Francis, during a Mass last year to commemorate 30 years since the 1982 war over the islands, described the islands as the Fatherland that was usurped by the British. Cameron told reporters that he “respectfully” disagreed with the pontiff.
“The white smoke over the Falklands is pretty clear,” he told reporters in London and urged world leaders to respect the referendum vote.
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