The Documentary: South America In The South Atlantic

Tuesday 29 August



Britain and Argentina’s competing claims over a small group of islands in the South Atlantic go back almost 250 years.

In English they’re known as the Falkland Islands, after the 17th-century British Lord Falkland. Their Spanish name derives from the first colonists, who were French - they called the islands Iles Malouines, after their home town, St-Malo, and Malouines became Malvinas.

Matthew Teller explores the enduring connections of history, culture and identity that link the Falkland Islands and the continent of South America. Back in the 19th century, the islands relied on the gauchos - cowboys brought over from Patagonia to round up wild cattle. But set against the practicalities of farming and ranching was a sovereignty dispute over the islands between Britain and Argentina that eventually exploded into war in 1982.

Matthew talks to Maria Strange, born into a Spanish-speaking Argentine family in Buenos Aires, who has lived in the Falklands since 1972, to find out what her perspective is on the war and its aftermath. He explores issues of history and identity with writer John Fowler, and government representative Michael Poole – and meets entrepreneur and hotelier Alex Olmedo, born in Santiago, Chile, who, after 26 years in Stanley, now describes himself as a ‘New Falklander’.

He also explores Argentine perspectives with activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, and visiting business owner Carolina Sena, who speaks of the “huge baggage” people carry, and the wounds left over from the war that still need to be healed, 35 years on.