Pope Francis and the Falkland Islands

Following the recent visit of the Argentine president Cristina Kirchner to the newly-elected Pope, Jorge Bergoglio, a fellow Argentine, the whisper is that Pope Francis, as he has become, will seek to make a stop-off in the Falkland Islands when he makes his first visit to Argentina, thought to be likely in June or July this year.

It is understood that the main purpose of his visit to the Falklands would be to apologise to the Falklanders for apparently supporting the Argentine invasion during a mass on April 2nd last year on the 30th Anniversary of the Argentine invasion in 1982, and to reassure the islanders in the light of their recent 99.8% vote in favour of keeping their homeland British, that as Pope he will always uphold the freedom of people to choose their own way of life.  (The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has not yet commented on this suggestion).

On his way to Argentina, the Pope could well reflect that President Kirchner’s obsessional fantasies about Argentina’s claims to the Falklands deflect attention from addressing the very problems of poverty among the Argentine working class which as priest and later Cardinal, Jorge Bergoglio himself sought to ameliorate.

As Stephen Bush said in his post “Argentina’s Psychosis” on this website 13 months ago, the neurotic, frenzied ravings which accompany Argentina’s claims, not only to the Falklands, but also to South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, are really matters for the psychologist, not the diplomat.

Psycho-analysis would undoubtedly start with getting senior Argentines to see Argentina as the rest of the world sees it – a byword for dictatorship, internal chaos, and aggressive arrogance towards its neighbours, like Chile, throughout its existence.  It has also waged actual war against Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and now Britain in the Falklands.

During the 1870s and 1880s a war of extermination was waged against the native Indian population in Patagonia, south of the Salado river – a region of South America coveted by the government in Buenos Aires, but never claimed by Spain, which Argentina has always from its beginnings in 1810 claimed to be the successor to.

If the Pope could get the Argentines to see and acknowledge their own failings, then real progress would be made.

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