From Sir David Mitchell.

Sir, David Cameron was right to say that Argentina could be accused of colonialism in asserting its claim to the Falkland Islands without respect for the wishes of its inhabitants (“Searching for oil in troubled waters”, January 21). At the time that Argentina took its independence from Spain the Falklands had never been occupied by Spain. Hence it could not have been ceded by Spain to Argentina.

In fact the first recorded landing on the islands occurred in 1690 when an English expedition claimed the islands for the Crown. It was 1820 when the Buenos Aires government declared independence from Spain but it did not, at that time, claim the Falklands. It did so in 1824, but it was not until 1828 that it installed a settlement, which Britain sent packing only five years later. Ever since then there has always been open, continuous (apart from the Falklands war) effective possession and British administration of the islands. Any claim by the Argentine to the contrary is bogus.

David Mitchell, Odiham, Hants, UK
Minister in the Thatcher government, 1979-88

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