Cristina Kirchner – enemy of the Falklands and economic freedom
By Nile Gardiner
- Cristina Kirchner – enemy of the Falklands and economic freedom
- Argentina is ranked just above Iran, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea in economic freedom
- Corruption is endemic in Argentina, with crony capitalism deeply embedded at the expense of free enterprise
With good reason, Cristina Kirchner has earned the sobriquet “the bully of Buenos Aires.” Argentina’s president has dedicated much of her two-term presidency to threatening the 3,000 overwhelmingly British residents of the Falkland Islands while suppressing economic and political freedom back home. It is no coincidence that Mrs. Kirchner expends so much energy menacing the peaceful inhabitants of a small group of Islands in the South Atlantic at the same time she presides over the economic decline of her own country. It is the hallmark of aggressive demagogues like Kirchner to whip up nationalist hatred against a backdrop of rising authoritarianism at home, and ever-growing state power. The Falklands issue has been an emotive and convenient vehicle for the Kirchner regime to deflect attention away from its disastrous economic policies and increasing political repression.
Just last week, Buenos Aires reiterated its claims to the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory, which were invaded by Argentina’s then military junta in 1982. The Islands, administered by Britain since 1833, were liberated by a task force launched by Margaret Thatcher, at great sacrifice with the loss of 255 British servicemen. In recent years, the Kirchner regime has resorted to a great deal of sabre-rattling combined with a concerted international campaign calling for UN-brokered negotiations over the sovereignty of the Islands. Hector Timerman, Argentina’s deeply unpleasant Foreign Minister, has even boasted in ominous language, that “the Falklands Islanders do not exist. What exists is British citizens who live in the Islas Malvinas.”
Kirchner has made the Falklands the number one foreign policy priority for her government, even wooing the Obama administration on the issue. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton famously stood shoulder to shoulder with Mrs. Kirchner in Buenos Aires at a press conference in March 2010, siding with the Argentine call for a negotiated settlement. As Clinton put it, “we want very much to encourage both countries to sit down… we will encourage exactly the kind of discussion across the table that needs to take place.” The Obama presidency even refused to publicly recognize the results of the March 2013 Falklands referendum, where more than 99 percent of the Falkland Islanders voted to remain a British Overseas Territory.
Argentina has upped the stakes recently, signing a “strategic partnership”with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, negotiating oil and gas deals, with rumours of a possible deal between Buenos Aires and Moscow to lease twelve long-range Russian Sukhoi-24 bombers, capable of reaching the Falklands. Argentina’s air force, heavily ravaged by defeat in the Falklands War, isbadly in need of regeneration, and Russian collaboration could dramatically increase its capacity. In response to a rising military threat posed by Argentina, the British government has pledged an additional £180 million to the Falklands’ defences, which are already substantial.
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