Sunday, 29 March 2015

How Defiant Falklanders Live With the Threat of War

With Britain and Argentina ratcheting up the military rhetoric, Falkland Islanders recall the 1982 conflict, and how the islands, and their lives, have transformed since.
A collective sigh emitted from approximately 2,000 Falkland Islanders this week as the long-suffering population attempted to get on with day-to-day life, in the face of dramatic newspaper headlines from British and international newspapers claiming an Argentine military invasion was imminent.

Britain announced this week it would spend $267 million over 10 years to “beef up” the Falklands’ defenses because of the “continuing threat” represented by Argentina. This, Argentina said, was a “provocation.”

Falkland Islander Jonathan Summers, 36, said: “It does appear the media and politicians are dramatizing it for their own benefit—the situation with Argentina is intrusive enough without it being sensationalized by people who don’t have to live with it on a daily basis.”

Just 3 years old when Argentine forces occupied the Falkland Islands in 1982, Summers said he only has vague images of the 74-day conflict between Britain and Argentina. But as a result of the ever-present political pressures from Argentina, like every other Islander young and old “the war” doesn’t seem like ancient history while the cold war continues.

“You never quite know what they’ll be up to next,” he said of the Argentine government. “But it generally involves threatening international companies that have some kind of connection with our industries. To be honest, nothing they could do would be too much of a surprise.”

In 1982, I lived with my grandmother in Stanley, the islands’ capital city. The daughter of East Falklands sheep farmers, like other children from “the Camp” (the name Islanders give to the rural areas outside of Stanley) I boarded in the capital in order to attend school.

In the early hours of April 2, 1982, my grandmother woke me with the words: “Wake up, Pet. The shooting’s started. You’ll have to come downstairs, I can hear guns.”
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