Falkland Islands referendum: Your views

Shot of houses with a Welcome to the Falkland Islands sign in front
Image caption The majority of the Falkland Islands population reside in the capital, Stanley

Residents of the Falkland Islands are preparing to vote in a referendum on 10 and 11 March to decide whether to remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.

The move has been condemned by Argentina which claims sovereignty over the islands.

BBC News has spoken to Falkland Islanders to see how they think the referendum will pan out and what impact it might have on UK-Argentine and UK-Falkland ties.

Michael Betts, project manager, 26

Image copyright Michael Betts
Image caption 'There is a misconception in Britain'

I'm a sixth or seventh-generation Falkland Islander; I've lived here all my life.

My father is a Falkland Islander and my mother moved here just before the war broke out, when my father served in the resistance.

The referendum is vital - it will show Argentina and the world that the islanders can chose their own future and political status.

Argentina tries to garner support around the world for its claim to the islands but the referendum will make their argument difficult to back.

There is a misconception in Britain resulting from the latest census which said that the majority of residents identify themselves as Falkland Islanders.

But for us it's like people in Wales and Scotland identifying themselves primarily as Welsh and Scottish, then British second.

Our ties with Britain are strong and the referendum won't change that.

Grizelda Cockwell, artist, 64

Image caption 'I hope it will raise awareness'

I was living in Fox Bay, West Falklands, in 1982 when the Argentine army arrived and took over our farm.

There were between 1,200-1,400 troops surrounding us both east and west. We could have left but we didn't; we felt it was important to stay to hold the farm together.

Our lives changed radically - guards were based outside our home constantly asking us where we were going and what we were doing.

They stayed with us for the duration of the war.

I have strong feelings about the referendum - the only thing holding Argentina back is the presence of British servicemen.

Argentina will disregard the referendum - as far as they're concerned we're squatters, pirates and rogues.

I hope it will raise awareness across the world to refute these claims.

Zoran Zuvic, teacher, 25

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Media caption'During the Falklands War we didn't have a voice'

Zoran Zuvic is a fifth-generation Falkland Islander who moved to the UK for teacher training.

He is planning to return to the Falkland Islands at Easter and will be representing the Falklands on Commonwealth Day on 11 March at Westminster Abbey.

Zoran cast his vote for the referendum by proxy.

Anon, Port Stanley resident

If one looks at reality, without the Union Jack-tinted shades, the islands were stolen from the Argentines back in the 19th Century.

It's crazy to have more contact with a nearly defunct imperial power separated from us by thousands of miles, than with a now relatively democratic and vibrant country that's a hop, skip and a jump away.

People round here cling to an absurd notion of 'Britishness' that, like Ulster unionism, is going nowhere.

I lived through the occupation and have no wish to repeat the experience, but this is not going to be repeated so there's no point in stirring this up in a paranoid, knee-jerk manner.

All the flag-waving nonsense on both sides could be resolved by sensible negotiation. We could extract a very good deal from Argentina with a high measure of autonomy.

My views are, sadly, not typical. Sometimes my wife and I feel like oppressed outcasts.

Daniel Fowler, biologist, 30

I was born in the middle of the Falklands War on 11 April in Stanley - you could say I was born under the Argentine regime.

It was a traumatic experience, with a change of order - especially having a child in the middle of it.

I'll definitely be going to vote on Sunday and I hope lots of others will too.

Some people here are excited about the referendum; others are twitchy and apprehensive there won't be enough people voting.

I don't think there will be any dramatic changes after the referendum. Argentina will just ignore the issue, saying it's not relevant.

The changes will be more subtle abroad; it will be another piece of evidence to show people that we want to remain part of the UK.

It will be interesting to see how the British public view the referendum.

Bill Luxton, retired farmer, 72

Image copyright BILL LUXTON
Image caption 'It will add to our credibility'

The Argentines arrested me and threw me out of the Falkland Islands in 1982. I had the honour of being number one on their hit list.

I am now retired and live on a farm in West Falkland.

The referendum is absolutely vital - we all know what the result will be.

However, the rest of the world is not aware, so it will raise our profile and add to our credibility and isolate Argentina's viewpoint that the Falkland Islands don't exist.

The Argentine government is in trouble financially and is using the islands as a diversionary tactic. It was the same during the war and it worked.

The referendum won't have any impact on ties between Britain and the islands; it will temporarily raise our profile and then sink to the bottom of the news pile again.

Philip Miller, agricultural contractor, islander living in Cheshire

Image copyright Philip Miller
Image caption 'This choice will be shown to the world'

The referendum is very important to me even if I don't live there at present.

We are British people who want to live under a flag of our choice.

This choice will be shown to the world when the results of the referendum are announced - it will show that we as Falkland Islanders want to continue to live as a British Overseas Territory.

I would like to think that this would be the end of the matter and settle the issue once and for all but of course it won't.

Argentina will continue to harass the Falkland Islands in the future.

Interviews by Sarah Fowler

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