Falklands: the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs surprised by the development of the islands
Saturday July 23, 2022 – 11:54 UTC
Following the surrender of the Argentine invasion forces, on the occasion of the intense activity planned in the Falkland Islands to commemorate the liberation of the islands in June 1982, the British Foreign Office sent a high-ranking representative and with developing a busy calendar of events and visits. Specialists to help the Casa de Goberno (Governor’s Residence).
This is Jamie Mansbridge, deputy director of the Falklands and Southern Ocean team at the Office of Foreign Affairs and Development, who describes his experience in an open letter, thanking you for the welcome and to the island-nation for what was built with you. over the four decades. Congratulations look ahead. ,
“As everyone in the UK geared up for summer, I packed my winter clothes, brushed my hat, scarf and gloves during the event season to support Government House amid the austral winter for six weeks. On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary. During this period, I have been fortunate to be hosted by the Falklands, to bring forward the commemorations of Liberation Day, visited by two of the UK’s greatest personalities, as well as being taken in several snowstorms.
During these weeks, I was privileged to be part of the island community, serving the staff and veterans who had come to the island for a series of heartfelt memorial events.
For me, the most emotional was the day the goose grain was released, on the snowy ridge above the settlement, often with horizontal gusts. As the piper raised moaning voices on the frozen stage and the wreath was laid down, the context of Koshima (translated) came to mind forcefully.
“When you get home, tell them about us and tell them their tomorrow, we give them our today”
The celebrations undoubtedly brought back strong memories for the veterans, remembering the comrades they lost, as well as equally strong feelings for those who suffered from the 1982 Argentine invasion.
To say that the Falklands conflict of 1982 marked a change would be an understatement, an understatement. The Falklands have changed a lot over the past forty years. The population has almost doubled, with more than sixty nationalities now inhabiting the islands, from Chile to Zimbabwe, from St. Helens to the Filipinos.
And in truth, perhaps nothing symbolizes the Falkland Islands more than the reception at Government House on Philippines Day in the 21st Century, with Filipino cuisine, prepared by Chilean chefs (and yes, I actually have a lot tasted these dishes). !)
Try as I might, I barely managed to survive those extra seven kilos, Stanley Brands, so I can’t try!
Prosperity is evident on the islands, from the quality of infrastructure to the abundance of new cars on the roads. It is impressive to think that in 1992 the island’s economy was worth around £23m in 2022, and today it is over £200m.
Seeing Gentoo Penguins in York Bay was a real privilege, although I had to come back to see the other four varieties of penguins unique to the Falklands.
The Falklands also happen to be the smallest jurisdiction in the world to have an incredible A+ credit rating from rating agency Standard & Poor’s: thanks to the extensive and meticulous money management of the community over the past forty years.
When I am asked the question, was it worth it?, for me, it is embarrassing because it requires deep and awkward calculations about the value of human life. Of course, the cost of liberating the Falklands was enormous, with three islanders, 255 British fighters killed and around 800 wounded, and many more lives changed forever. As well as the permanent trauma left by aggression and possession.
Before my trip I traveled back to 1992, realizing that the experience of an invasion would have been all the more painful, I did so knowing that the British task force had indeed gone south and realized the liberation of the islands. They did a great job of correcting my view (and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do), given the excellent ‘Saved in Memory’ exhibit at the National Museum of the Islands .
On April 2, 1982, armored personnel carriers emerged in Stanley, the only thing that could be known was that your islands, your homes, had been invaded by troops under the command of a military junta who held power in Argentina. And while the exact extent of the human rights abuses committed by the military junta is not fully known, enough rumors circulated to make it clear that the said regime was not known for its strict adherence to human rights. human rights. , I can only imagine the shock, awe, terror and tension felt by those who woke up that morning in the Falkland Islands.
So, was it worth it? Yes of course. Never forget the cost, but what they have built over the last forty years is the answer to that question. They have built a prosperous, vibrant and diverse island nation with a thriving economy and growing population. But above all they have the right to do so during the defence. My job and that of my colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs today is to continue to defend this right.
Incredibly, Argentina maintains as official policy that you do not have the right to self-determination and that your country should be incorporated into your country against your will.
On the train home from RAF Bridge Norton, I changed my mind about returning from the Falklands. Aside from a few extra pounds (thanks to the unrivaled cuts of beef, excellent calamari and world-champion tortas), it was a deep appreciation for the islands’ decades-long work to ensure that the sacrifice of 1982 was properly compensated .
And as they fight to protect your incomparable beautiful islands and the future of your children, the Falklands team at the Foreign Office work tirelessly to tell the world of your success and that your right to self-determination is recognized. . It is my part to repay the sacrifice of 1982. Finally, I would like to thank all those who generously welcomed a confused (and sometimes very tired!) member of the Foreign Office. I enjoyed every minute in your wonderful country!