Falklands land grab: New book exposes ‘bogus history’ of Argentina’s sovereignty claim
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The remote archipelago in the South Atlantic was the subject of a short but bloody war in 1982 which saw a task force dispatched by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to wrest back control after an Argentinian invasion. Nevertheless, Argentina has never relinquished its claim, and the election of Peronist Alberto Fernandez has triggered a renewed diplomatic push, with the South American country attempting to enlist the support of the United Nations, as well as writing to European Commissioner Josep Borrell in a bid to bolster its case.
Graham Pascoe, alongside renowned Falklands expert Peter Pepper, resolved to write the book, Falklands Facts and Fallacies, as a direct response to a book published in 2016 by Marcelo Kohen and Facundo Rodriguez entitled Las Malvinas entre el derecho y la historia (The Malvinas between law and history), referring the name Argentina gives the British overseas territory.
Mr Pasco is a linguist by profession who has been fascinated with the Falklands since he was a student.
He and Mr Pepper consequently wrote two internet papers refuting what he told Express.co.uk were the “untruths peddled for years by Argentina”.
He said: “We didn’t intend to write this book but were “bounced” into it when Messrs Kohen and Rodriguez published their book purporting to “refute” our two papers.”
One of the key aims of the book is to explode what Mr Pascoe describes as the “Expulsion myth” which continues to exert a powerful pull on Argentina’s collective psyche.
He explained: “The Expulsion Myth is the idea that Britain expelled an Argentine population from the Falklands in 1833.
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“Argentina says this marked the ‘usurpation’ of the islands by Britain, but the truth is quite different.
“Only a few of the civilian residents were Argentinian in the first place, and Britain expelled only the Argentine garrison, who had murdered their commanding officer in cold blood and had terrorised and robbed the civilian residents.
“The garrison had only been in the islands for less than three months, and Britain had protested against the sending of an Argentine garrison as soon as it became known, before the garrison had even got there.
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“Far from expelling the residents, Britain urged them to stay, and most of them did so.”
Mr Pasco pointed out: “Developments in international law mean that the Falkland Islanders are the holders of territorial sovereignty over their country and possess the full right of external self-determination (the right to decide what country their islands are to belong to).
“Britain is no longer the colonial power, but only (in UN parlance) the “administering power”, holding the islands not as a territorial possessor as in the 19th century, but only on behalf of the Falkland Islanders, who are sovereign.”
Another crucial, often misrepresented aspect of Falklands history which Mr Pascoe focuses on in his book is a little-known treaty signed well over 150 years ago which – on the face of it at least – resolved the sovereignty dispute.
He said: “The Convention of Peace ended “all national differences” between Britain and Argentina, and after its ratification in 1850 Argentina did not mention the Falklands to Britain for over a third of a century.
“That demonstrates that Argentina had accepted that the Falklands were British, not Argentinian.
“The Convention of Peace is well known to Argentine historians, some of whom have complained about it in books, but Argentine politicians have successfully kept it secret at the UN and in contacts with Britain – and the British Foreign Office didn’t do its homework and failed to find out about it.”
Argentina hasn’t a leg to stand on
As for Argentina’s ongoing sovereignty claim – with Mr Fernandez having describing the issue as a “matter of state” – Mr Pascoe said: “Argentina hasn’t a leg to stand on.
“There is no legal basis whatever for the Argentine claim that the Falklands are part of Argentina’s territory.”
Copies of the book have been sent to various libraries including to St Antony’s College in Oxford, which specialises in international relations – and Mr Pascoe said he was also planning to send them to recently appointed UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Mr Borrell, who as High Representative of the European Union is commissioner responsible for foreign affairs.
Because of lockdown restrictions, the book is currently only available from www.falklandshistory.com
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