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Fernandez: Britain seized Falklands

Jan. 2, 2013 at 5:25 PM

LONDON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Britain "forcibly stripped" Argentina of the Falkland Islands, expelling the inhabitants, 180 years ago, Argentina's president said Wednesday.

President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner Fernandez sent British Prime Minister David Cameron an open letter demanding Britain abide by U.N. resolutions calling for negotiations on the islands. The letter was dated Thursday, the 180th anniversary of the British action.

"One hundred and eighty years ago on the same date, January 3rd, in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism, Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000 kilometers (8700 miles) away from London," Fernandez said.

"The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule."

Fernandez copied the letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The current inhabitants of the islands are scheduled to vote in March on their future, and they are expected to approve the status quo. Barry Elsby, a member of the Falklands legislature, told The Daily Telegraph that Britain, unlike Argentina, respects the wishes of the islanders.

"We are not a colony -- our relationship with the United Kingdom is by choice," he said.

The Falklands, an archipelago of almost 800 islands, has a population of fewer than 3,000. The residents, mostly of British descent, are English-speaking and are British citizens.

In 1982, Argentina invaded the islands. Britain took them back a few weeks later in a counter-attack.

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