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Letter-writing on the Malvinas/Falkland Islands war in 1982, I: A letter to Prime Minister Thatcher
jonvalurjensson
In that time, I was a research student in Cambridge. I wrote these five letters on that dispute:

1) A letter to the Prime Minister, dated in Cambridge 4 May, 1982. (Here below.)
2) A letter to the Hon. Norman St John-Stevas, MP, dated 4 May, 1982.
3) A letter to the editor of the Sunday Times, dated 4 June, 1982.
4) A letter to Mr Tony Benn, MP, dated 16 June, 1982.
5) A letter to the letters' editor of the Sunday Times, dated 29 June, 1982.

Some of these letters were quite long––a total of 11 typewritten A4 pages.

A hot-spirited discussion has taken place in the last few days about the standpoint of the President of Argentina's, Mrs Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, on that matter, see here with the already 250 comments (of which I have quite a few): UK statements on the Malvinas issue are “ridiculous” says Cristina Fernandez.

In my own entries in that web-discussion I referred to and started publishing some of the above-mentioned letters of mine, reviving in that way the arguments for Argentine rights to the Falklands, and the status quæstionis as it seemed to me at that stage of this international dispute. The letters also deal with some crucial events of the Falklands war, such as the highly controversial sinking of the Argentine warship General Belgrano.

So, here is my first letter, that to Mrs Margaret Thatcher.

To the Prime Minister,
10 Downing Street,
London.
Cambridge, 4 May 1982.

Your Excellency,

You must be proud of what your 'boys' have been doing in the South Atlantic. Indeed, can there be any more doubt in the minds of your opposition parties in Parliament that you are deadly serious about the Falkland Islands? If that was your primary concern when you decided to send the Task Force, then may I suggest that enough is enough, –– no more sacrifices of the Argentines' lives are necessary to prove your bloody point.

I am a foreigner and I think that I speak not only for myself but for most other Europeans when I tell you that the attack on the Belgrano was entirely unjustifiable, and that it will spell the end of sympathy for the British in this dispute. This is a clear instance of an unjustifiable measure of war, and that means, notably, that those responsible are guilty of murder in the sight of God and men.

As to the right of Britain to those islands, I think it is right to remind you of the startling evidence which appeared (alas, rather lately after all the one-sided reports we've been receiving) both on BBC2 Newsnight 29th April, and in The Observer last Sunday, to the effect that the historical claims of Argentina seem to be backed up with a lot of valid arguments. The BBC commentator talked about this evidence as being “ambivalent” for each of the two parts involved, but as an outsider I think we have to agree that the British occupation of the islands in 1833 was not made in an exercise of their rights but was a mere show of force majeure. The Argentinians are the lawful and natural heirs to the Spanish and French claims to the islands (the French, who settled a year before the first British settlers, sold their rights over to the Spanish, and the Spanish considered themselves as the right owners of the islands inter alia by reason of the fact that they were off the shores of their territory (i.e. Argentina)). Moreover, the islands belong, geographically, clearly to Argentina, as they are on the continental shelf, and a 200 meters' deep is nowhere reached between the mainland and the archipelago.

The islanders pose a problem, but this has been overexaggerated by yourself and your followers. If you say their wishes should be “paramount” in all future decisions, doesn't it mean that they are a sovereign nation? But sovereignty doesn't by any means lie with them on the British view but in Westminster. Furthermore, they are not even a “nation”. Their freedom should of course be upheld, yet not at the cost of defending their presumed perennial rights to these islands. If they cannot stay there under Argentinian rule, they could easily exercise all their desired freedom in your own British Isles, couldn't they? A change of your immigration laws to that effect will not be that much of a sacrilege, will it? There is certainly no reason at all to think that the Argentinians are unwilling to release those islanders, and that their freedom has to be protected, or rather won back, on that account.

Finally, as a Christian I wish you are not unveiling an horrendous racialism by treating Argentinian casualties as nothing while you do everything to “protect” your forces from 2nd World War warships which are even operating outside the 200 miles exclusion zone. If enough is not enough now, when you have killed some 500 to 800 men on this one ship, then the British will never be allowed to be at ease on those islands, for you would be making impossible any peace settlements involving even a little compromise on the Argentinians' behalf. In fact, I think the British should only be allowed to withhold South Georgia, as this island is far from the Argentine continental shelf. This would be quite sufficient to ensure British rights and access to the Antarctic.

My final note is that I have the feeling that the Falkland Islanders would rather like to become real British citizens, and settle in this country, than to sacrifice even 18 lives in the military confrontation which is foreseeable if your forces invade East Falkland. And however little you may care about the Argies' lives, would you be able to guarantee less than one per cent deaths among the Falklanders? Please give it a thought.

With best wishes,
yours sincerely,
J.V. Jensson (sign.),
postgraduate research student in theology,
St John's College, Cambridge.