Sunday, April 5, 2009


on friday i taught 5 students. my last student of the day was an older man. he told me "i don't want to offend you, but i just don't like the english language. i don't want to learn it, but i have to for work". no offense taken.

i thought i sent him a conversation topic, but i must have forgot, so i started the class by asking him about projects he was working on. then, knowing that it's a very sensitive topic, i asked him about thursday's holiday. (to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers of the malvinas war in 1982). i told him that i read about the holiday and i understand what happened.

but what i didn't understand, and wanted him to explain, was why does Britain want islands that are so far from Britain and so close to Argentina? to me, it would just make sense that these islands are part of Argentina. i didn't understand why england wants them so badly.

my student explained. when Britain first seized the island no people lived on the islands. so Britain arrived, set up shop and called it their own. then he explained that they want the islands because the ocean surrounding them is fairly shallow and there may be an opportunity to drill for oil. lastly he explained that at this time, no country owns the south pole, but there is talk about sectioning it off to the countries that are closest to it. for example argentina would get a slice of it....and with Britain owning these islands, they will have a slice of the south pole too.

after our class was over my student said he really enjoyed talking to me. it made me happy that he ended the class being happy to speak english since he started the class not wanting to and not liking it.

(photo below: In England known as the Falkland islands / In Argentina known as the Malvinas. The islands lie all the way south east of Argentina. (there is a half red circle around them))


Conor said...

If I remember correctly the British in the late 70s and early 80s prior to the conflict didn't really want to keep the islands. Britain found them a financial drain on a nation already grappling with 3 day weeks and being bailed out by the IMF. There were tentative conversations with the junta but the government knew the islanders were not a fan of being governed by Argentina and one of a military dicatorship at that! Also Britain didn't want to be seen to be in such contact with the junta.

The talks didnt get off the ground but it gave the junta, already unpopular an excuse for a patriotic war. They knew Britain was not really up for a fight and when the war started the US under Reagan, generally a staunch Britain supporter didn't really mention anything and played deaf to it all.

But the Argentines didn't factor in Maggie Thatcher! Becoming unpopular at home because of a horrid recession and social unrest over her market reforms she used the war for galvanizing patriotism. For both sides it was a war for patriotism. And we know who lost. That the junta failed so soon after (and one of the reasons it did was the shattering of credibility of the military after the war) that it has all been built up into something pretty important for Argentines.

This doesn't discount the fact that the British really shouldn't have been there in the first place in my opinion and we can see similarities with the imperialism of Britain when it took over the islands in the first place and what other nations are like now. But like a lot of history, ideas, borders are all transient and changing. Lets see what happens in the future.

yillabean said...

Thank you so much for your comment. I love see the other sides of stories.

Before moving to Argentina I did not know about the war, so I just learned about it most recently.

Thank you again for the info.

Conor said...

No problem! But like anything like this there are many sides to a story but it is very interesting to see the Argentine side (from my Porteno friends) and the British side (from my boyfriend and London friends). Being Irish it's complicated! Ha