Today the Falkland Islands are observing Margaret Thatcher Day.
Thirty years ago today, during her first visit to the Falkland Islands since its liberation, Thatcher said:
Today again the Union Jack flies over Port Stanley, and may it ever fly there. So we in the Falkland Islands and in Great Britain re-dedicate our lives to the cause of freedom and justice of people here and everywhere. We have given an example to the world, and hope to many of those who do not enjoy these great qualities. May we also act as a beacon of hope to them, that so long as we defend that which is ours now, they too one day may enjoy these great things.
In 1982, Argentina, unprovoked, had invaded and occupied the islands for two months. Against the odds, Thatcher assembled a naval task force and deployed it to the South Atlantic to liberate the islands’ British inhabitants. In a victory for self-determination, the British promptly expelled the Argentine invaders. Today, Falkland Islanders celebrate the bold leadership and determination demonstrated by Margaret Thatcher during the war.
However, more than three decades after the war, things are heating up once again in the South Atlantic. Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is using the dispute with the U.K. over the Falkland Islands to distract her political opponents from the dire economic mess facing Argentina.
Unlike the U.K., which wants to let the status of the islands be decided by the Falklanders themselves, Argentina would like to annex and colonize the islands. Exacerbating the problem, the Obama Administration has publicly stated that it would like Argentina and the U.K. to enter into talks over the islands. The State Department has also refused to say that it will recognize the outcome of an upcoming referendum in March in the Falklands about the future of the islands. This policy plays right into the hands of President Kirchner and makes a mockery of the “special relationship.”
The war fought and won by Britain in 1982 to expel the Argentine invaders was a victory for self-determination. Thatcher showed the world that British sovereignty would not be trampled and that she would do whatever it took to liberate the occupied islands.
Thatcher’s leadership during the war ensured that the Falklands were liberated and that its inhabitants remained British. It is only right that the people of the Falkland Islands recognize today as Margaret Thatcher Day.