Created on: March 18, 2013 Last Updated: May 20, 2013
On March 12 of 2013 the Falkland Islands voted on a referendum as to whether they should remain a British territory or become a territory of the nation of Argentina, which holds a territorial claim to the islands. Located off of the coast of South America, the potential shipping hub and stronghold for natural resources has been disputed between the two countries for decades, a dispute which resulted in conflict in the 1980s.
In order to hopefully put the matter to rest once and for all, the people of the Falklands have voted for themselves of which nation they would rather be a part, making a statement to the world regarding their wishes for the matter to be closed.
Held in March, the referendum was in regards to the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. The people, who live and work there, voted their desire to remain under British rule. With a voter turnout of over 92%, the islands voted to retain their sovereignty under broader British rule and denied the claims by Argentina that the territory belongs to that country. Argentina has in recent months demanded that the United Kingdom renounce its own claim to the islands, which was won through the Falkland War of the 1980s. In January of 2013 the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner sited an older claim that the two countries should enter arbitration regarding the sovereignty of the islands, a demand that the British have ignored.
One claim that the Argentinian government is now making is that when the British occupied the island in the 1980s war they removed a civilian population consisting of Argentinians who now have a claim on property and assets there. The Falklands War began in 1982 when Argentina landed a force on the islands and claimed it as their territory. The resulting war led to casualties on both sides, with the British having suffered 255 loses while expelling Argentinian forces who lost an estimated 645 people.
The location of the Falkland Islands has made a disputed territory for quite some time. Positioned at the very tip of South America, it is an ideal place to harbor a shipping industry as well as already containing a vibrant fishing industry.
Recently, the Falkland Island government has decided to pursue oil and natural gas exploration in the waters off of the islands, perhaps raising it's value as a territory for either country. This recent interest in natural resources resulted in Argentina banning ships from the islands to dock in their ports, sufficiently cutting off the island from that region.
The vote on the referendum sends a clear message to both countries that the people of the island wish to remain under the British flag. The decision of the people themselves will hopefully convince the Argentinian government to drop their claims and adhere to their will in the matter.
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Falkland Islands holds referendum on disputed political status
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