The Falkland Islands have recently found themselves in the news again after decades of relative obscurity. The islands, which lie some 300 miles off the Argentinian coast, have been a British overseas territory since the Falklands War in the early 1980s. Argentina never quite got over it, despite the fact that the Islanders want nothing to do with them. In fact, their new 50 peso note even includes the islands as a part of the nation, according to reports on Feb. 25.
The currency is drawing mockery from citizens who live on the island. Some of the jokes are actually pretty funny, satirizing the inflation and dismal economy in the country. One reads “surprised they can afford a colour printer,” while another says “In the time it took to unveil, the note went from being able to buy 2 slices of bread to 1.”
The human history of the Falkland Islands is actually a fairly short one. The Falklands, or Las Islas Malvinas as Argentina calls them, were uninhabited when Europeans came across them. There is archaeological evidence that prehistoric people lived there thousands of years before, but they were long gone by the 18th century when the French and the British founded colonies. France soon handed theirs over to Spain, though both groups eventually abandoned it once more. Argentina then made a claim to the islands as a former Spanish colony in their area of influence, but the British weren’t going to let it go easily.
The British re-established themselves on the islands in the 1830s, which they firmly held well into the late 20th century, until Argentinian despot Juan Peron tried to claim the islands during the decolonization period that dominated the middle of the century. The United Kingdom was more than happy to let the islands become sovereign, as the cost to maintain them was no longer worth the benefits they received.
The two nations engaged in talks over how to handle the situation, with the Brits pushing for sovereignty for the islands, and Argentina trying to assert control over them. This eventually erupted into a small-scale war in 1982, in which Argentina was soundly defeated. Just ask Bill O’Reilly, he was totally there.
Ever since then the islands have been a part of the United Kingdom’s overseas territories, and nobody has really disputed that fact. The new 50 peso note is the first major public fuss anybody has even made over the islands in over 30 years. It seems unlikely that anything approaching an actual war or bloodshed will occur, as Argentina barely has the means to support itself. Add to that the fact that 99.8 percent of the islands’ residents prefer to stay with Britain and you have a situation that Argentina really wants no part of reigniting.
Still, it shows how the footprint of historical imperialism is still impacting world issues today. Even if it is only in a passive-aggressive stunt that does nothing but invite worldwide mockery to a troubled country.