Mar 3, 2012

Morrissey and Roger Waters on Las Malvinas


Morrissey and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters have both spoken out on the Malvinas issue.

During a concert in the Argentinian city of Córdoba Morrissey told the crowd "The Malvinas Islands, everybody knows they belong to Argentina..." He also added "So please don't blame the British people, we know the islands belong to you."

In an interview that aired on Argentine and Chilean TV Roger Waters said the islands "should be Argentine." In addressing the ongoing feud over the islands he brought up Britain's colonial history, something Sean Penn has also touched on.

Waters' comments are timely because the Malvinas issue is being exploited for political ends, especially given the prospect of natural resource finds.

Waters:

There's nothing they like more than to toe the line in the Houses of Parliament and stand there with hand on hip and say: the Falkland Islands are British and they always will be and the Falklands islanders' wishes are paramount and as long as they want to be British ... Bullshit!

Behind the flag waving and the bombast, the truth is that Argentina has the more solid claim to the Malvinas.

The British claim goes back to a colonial expand-and-grab period in the 1800's. The islands were seized in 1833. The captain of the HMS Clio - one John Onslow - had instructions to "exercise rights of sovereignty" over the islands. In retrospect it's quite astounding the powers the other island up north arrogated to itself when it came to sailing around the globe seizing territory.

Settlers from Argentina were replaced by British settlers - some also came from Gibralter.

Successive British governments were well aware that their claim on the Malvinas was weak. This together with the challenges posed by the logistics of the geographical situation explains why some kind of negotiated settlement was often on the cards.

In a Guardian article, Richard Gott makes mention of this:

The record suggests that successive UK governments have considered the British claim to the islands to be weak, and some have favoured negotiations. Recently released documents recall that James Callaghan, when foreign secretary in the 1970s, noted that "we must yield some ground and ... be prepared to discuss a lease-back arrangement"....


No doubt pro-Falklands cheerleaders will respond to Morrissey and Waters much as they did to Sean Penn with the old "celebrities butt out" line.

Morrissey and Waters should be commended for having the courage of their convictions while knowing full well that the hardcore flag wavers back home will pile scorn on them for speaking out. They have a platform and they're right to use it - especially given the revved up patriotic hype of late around this issue.

On another note, Roger Waters' nine scheduled concerts at the River Plate football stadium quickly sold out. According to The Guardian some 370,000 tickets were purchased.

Video beneath of Morrissey's comments on-stage in Córdoba: