The two countries fought a highly contentious and publicized war in 1982 over the craggy and sparsely-inhabited islands, but Argentina is not giving up.
Argentina took the bold step this week of appointing a Secretary for Matters Relating to the Malvinas, a newly-created position and office, to press the British over who should have rightful claim to the semi-autonomous island region.
And the language used at the ceremony on Monday in Buenos Aires appointing Daniel Filmus to his new post wasn’t exactly the most subtle diplomatic track for the Argentinian leadership in its quest.
“It is unacceptable that in the 21st century Argentina is unable to take decisions over its entire territory and that a part of this territory is being occupied by a colonial power,” Filmus said.
Argentina claims it got the Malvinas — Spanish for Falklands — after getting independence from Spain in 1816, while Britain, who “won” the 1982 skirmish, has occupied it since 1833, claiming it as a British overseas territory.
“Won” is a relative term, as the British incurred casualties and losses of major assets during the 74-day conflict. It all began on Friday April 2, 1982, when Argentine forces invaded the Falklands, leaving the British government little choice but to send a naval task force to end the matter. In the process, 640 Argentine and 255 British military personnel died, not to mention three Falklanders. Britain sank two Argentine warships, and Argentina sank a British destroyer, which made headlines around the world.
Now, here’s the problem: Argentina obviously still wants the Falklands, but the roughly 3,000 citizens of the Falklands don’t want Argentina. They voted by a margin of 99.8 percent to stay a British protectorate.
Aside from the island being a potential southerly Atlantic vantage point for the British military, oil exploration and drilling projects are in the works for the area surrounding the Falklands, which the Argentines also lay maritime claim to, and have recently passed laws making it punishable to explore or drill for oil in the area.
According to a report published in November, the Falklanders are having none of the Argentine claims to their waters or land.
Speaking to the British newspaper The Daily Express, the director of Mineral Resources for the Falkland Islands Government said the Argentine law would have no impact.
“The Argentine government’s domestic legislation has no force in the Falklands,” said Stephen Luxton. “They have no jurisdiction over activities here.”
Premier Oil, a U.K. firm, is expected to begin extracting its first oil from Falkland maritime waters in 2018, where an estimated 394 million barrels of oil sit.
But the two countries are likely to remain at an impasse unless something dramatic happens in policy from either side, and that is highly unlikely.