Falkland islanders vote on future as British territory

08/03/13

Put simply, if Argentina hadn't invaded the Falklands in 1982, Krysteen Ormond probably wouldn't be here today.

"In a roundabout way, my dad freed my mum," says the 24-year-old.

Her mother, Teena, a Falkland islander, was one of 115 people placed under arrest by the Argentines.

Argentina invaded the islands claiming to have inherited them from Spain.

Her father, Kevin, attached to 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was part of the Task Force which helped liberate the detainees.

'Beautiful place'

Brought together following the conflict, Teena and Kevin married in May 1983.

The Falkland Islands

    • Population: 2,563 (April 2012 census)
    • Location: The Falklands are about 300 miles off the coast of Argentina
    • Capital: Stanley
    • It is also home to as many as one million penguins

Krysteen was born in 1988 in the Falklands. Her father moved the family back to the islands permanently when he finished his 22 years military service.

"It's a beautiful place," she says. "Not conventional beauty because it's so wild looking. It's stunning."

Thirty years on from the war and Krysteen is preparing to vote in a referendum in which Falkland Islanders will decide whether they want to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.

It was prompted after calls from the Argentine President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, that the territory be "returned" to Argentina.

The Argentine government claims that the Falklands were stolen from them 180 years ago and that the Islanders are "settlers" who can have no right to claim the islands for the British.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
Image caption Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has accused the UK of colonialism over the Falklands

"It's significant for me," says Krysteen. "Being a Falkland Islander is being British in the same way someone from Manchester is English.

"The referendum is important because it's my ability to express to the international community that I have a say in my own future and can carry on having the life I have now."

The Falklands are self-governing with their foreign affairs and defence matters controlled by Westminster.

Falklands soldiers

Krysteen is studying in Nottingham and has aspirations to be a politician once she moves back to the Falklands.

Fellow student, 26-year-old Martin De Angelis, is from Buenos Aires in Argentina and is studying in London. He thinks the Falklands debate is partly a geographical issue.

"It is weird to think that it's about 300 miles from Argentina but about 8,000 miles from the UK," he says.

"It's not about having a different nationality. It's about the soil, the resources. We feel it's a breach in our territorial integrity."

The referendum takes place across two days. UK Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain would support the result of the vote.

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Krysteen with Argentine Martin De Angelis
Image caption Krysteen met Martin De Angelis from Buenos Aires in Argentina