‘Argentina respects Malvinas islanders, but they are not a third party in the dispute’

Malvinas Secretary Guillermo Carmona responded to LLA members claiming any sovereignty agreement must include the islanders

Malvinas Islands. Credit: Wikipedia

By Juan Décima and Martina Jaureguy

Javier Milei’s victory in the August primaries has placed him and his La Libertad Avanza (LLA) comrades’ views in the spotlight more than ever before. Over the last week, the libertarian economist and one of his main advisors touched on one of Argentina’s most sensitive topics: the country’s sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands.

Diana Mondino, Milei’s senior economic advisor and possible Foreign Minister if he wins the presidency, told The Telegraph on Sunday that any agreement must respect the islanders’ wishes. 

“Islanders’ rights will be respected, should be respected, and cannot be disrespected,” Mondino said. “The idea that one can impose what people can or should do is so feudal and naive.”

Several veterans groups condemned her comments. The Former Malvinas War Soldiers Center (Cesc, for its Spanish initials) based in Mar del Plata released a statement saying they were “offended by Mondino’s lack of respect for the will of the Argentine people.” The War Veteran Federation of Buenos Aires province noted that her statements showed “a lack of knowledge of the Constitution.”

Argentina’s sovereignty claim over the Malvinas is a state policy codified in the 1994 reform of the Constitution stating that “Argentina ratifies its legitimate and unprescribable sovereignty over the Malvinas, the South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands.”

The UK refers to the islands as the Falkland Islands, but this name is strongly contested by Argentina.

In an interview with Radio Continental on Wednesday, Milei echoed Mondino’s comments regarding the islanders.

“The Malvinas Islands belong to Argentina, sovereignty is not under discussion, but we must also acknowledge that there was a war and we lost […] Argentina and the United Kingdom must reach an agreement, but we cannot overlook the opinion of the islanders,” Milei said, adding that he would advocate for a solution similar to China and the UK’s 1997 Hong Kong agreement. 

However, the Malvinas, Antarctica, and Southern Atlantic Secretary for the Argentine government Guillermo Carmona told the Herald that the conflict has only two sides: Argentina and the United Kingdom. He said that the islanders’ view is included within the UK’s position, and has always been accounted for in past negotiations.  

“What Milei and Mondino seem to suggest is that there is a third side in this conflict. Neither Argentina nor the international community consider the islanders to be a third party,” said Carmona, adding that Argentina has always “respected the islanders way of life and will guarantee their rights.”

According to Carmona, Argentina considers them “country inhabitants,” entitled to social, economic, and cultural rights. They may also apply for Argentine citizenship and obtain the right to vote. 

“Argentina, however, rejects their so-called right to self determination, which would imply that the islander’s rights are more important than the historical will of the entire country that considers the Malvinas a part of its territory.”

You may also be interested in: ‘Malvinas has become a regional issue because it is a case of decolonization’

The Hong Kong solution

In 1984, China and the United Kingdom signed a deal in which the latter agreed to hand Hong Kong back to the Chinese by 1997 with the assurance that the island would continue to be an autonomous region for the next 50 years. The “one county, two systems” agreement, which Milei highlighted in his interview, ended 156 years of British rule over its former colony. 

According to Carmona, solutions along these lines have already been discussed in past sovereignty negotiations between Argentina and the UK. 

“Mr. Milei seems to ignore that [discussions over Malvinas] started before Hong Kong. He could easily have proposed one of the solutions Argentina has put on the table in the past,” the secretary said. 

Argentina and the UK went through four rounds of negotiation before the 1982 war, where they discussed multiple possibilities — including a 1974 proposal to establish a dual Argentine-British government. The proposal fell through due to the persistent refusal of some islanders.  

For Carmona, Milei’s proposal seems to forget a key issue, mainly that large swaths of Hong Kong’s’ political establishment opposed that sovereignty be handed over to China. 

The Herald reached out to Milei’s press team for further comment on their Malvinas sovereignty plan but they said they had nothing to add.

Editorial disclaimer

Although the UK refers to the territory as the “Falklands Islands,” Argentina strongly contests this name. The Buenos Aires Herald refers to the islands as the Malvinas Islands.


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