Argentine claims for Malvinas of 1833

From the time when the rift between unitarios and federales dominated the political scene in the Río de la Plata, Argentina – at that time the Argentine Confederation – raised through diplomatic channels, with historical and legal arguments, the sovereignty rights over the Malvinas Islands and the rejection of the British occupation, which had landed in 1833.

The first voice to take the claim to London was Manuel Moreno, Mariano Moreno’s younger brother and ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Documents that testify to the steps that the diplomat took in writing to the British Court between 1833 and 1849 will be presented this Monday, 3 April 2023, by the Foreign Ministry, on the 41st anniversary of Argentina’s recovery of the island territory, which led to the Malvinas War of 1982. Distinctions will also be awarded to former combatants.

The historical documentation, to which the researchers already had access in the General Archive of the Nation and in the Foreign Ministry itself, will be presented by the Malvinas Secretariat, in charge of Guillermo Carmona, with the purpose of giving it a wider dissemination.

Note from Manuel Moreno sending a copy of the protest to the British government, 17 August 1833.
Note from Manuel Moreno sending a copy of the protest to the British government, 17 August 1833.

The material includes letters and newspaper clippings that show the continuity of the diplomatic efforts that were made in London to support the position of the Argentine Confederation, which at that time had delegated foreign relations to the government of Buenos Aires, led by Juan Manuel de roses.

Strictly speaking, when the occupation of the Malvinas took place, the governor of Buenos Aires was Juan Ramón Balcarce, who was succeeded -in short terms- by Juan José Viamonte and Manuel Vicente Maza, until the federal leader resumed power in March 1835.A Despite the confrontations, at that time Argentina never broke diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom.

The compilation was carried out by the Consejo Consultivo sobre temas vinculados al Atlántico Sur (Casur), whose coordinator is Facundo Rodríguez.

Historical and legal arguments

The documentation reflects the weight of the historical and legal arguments that were already being put forward by the Argentine position at the time. Last year, documents were presented on the first steps and claims made in Buenos Aires after the usurpation of 1833, which are now complemented by letters and notes submitted to the British Court in London.

Among the most important pieces are the first formal protest the Argentine government lodged in London and the orders Ambassador Moreno received to uphold the Argentine claim of rights. He argued, for example, that the 1833 action was contrary to international law and had violated territorial integrity, as well as being in breach of the Treaty of Friendship, Navigation and Commerce, which in 1825 recognised the Argentine Confederation as an independent state.

On historical grounds, Moreno argued that the Argentine Confederation had inherited sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands from Spain, giving an account of the rights of that European country, which had appointed 32 governors in the islands.

Printed copy of the work "Observations on the forcible occupation of the Malvinas, or Falkland Islands by The British Government, in 1833" published in London
Printed copy of the work “Observations on the forcible occupation of the Malvinas, or Falkland Islands by The British Government, in 1833” published in London

When he was 29 years old, Manuel Moreno had accompanied his brother Mariano on a ship voyage to Europe in 1811 for a diplomatic mission, but the secretary of the First Junta died at sea. The diplomat was a doctor, a university professor and a minister under Manuel Dorrego before being appointed ambassador to London, a post he held for 16 years.

Explanations in the media

The material now open to the public includes statements that the ambassador himself had published in English in British newspapers to disseminate the memorandum presented to the British Court on the Argentine position, in which he ratified the rights over Malvinas and the rejection of the British occupation. A novel action for the time. The Foreign Ministry will exhibit the original version in English and the translation that the diplomat himself sent to Buenos Aires.

The mission entrusted to Moreno was decided after the British ambassador in Buenos Aires, when summoned by the Argentine authorities after the invasion of 3 January 1833, confessed that “he was not aware of the situation”, explained the Foreign Ministry. “He had not received any orders. That is why it was decided to deal with the conflict with the authorities in London,” said the Casur coordinator.

While the ambassador was making representations in London, the Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata began to take effect. But the Rosas government handled both conflicts separately. Moreno concentrated on the Malvinas dispute, according to the Kirchnerist government’s view.

Among the 53 documents, a letter in which the ambassador informs the UK authorities that the Argentine Confederation “will never accept” the position of the islands and maintains the claim is relevant.

Letters between Ambassador Moreno and national officials were also recovered, as well as a communication informing him that Brazil’s diplomatic representative had been ordered to accompany Argentina’s claim to Malvinas.

One incident in the conflict occurred in 1842, when the United Kingdom notified the Argentine ambassador that the Malvinas question was closed. “Accept this situation”, was the message from Europe. The reply was that Buenos Aires “will never accept the unilateral British decision. “Moreno thus conveyed a reservation of sovereignty”, explained the Foreign Ministry.

Seven years later, the British press reported that Argentina was abandoning its claim to the Malvinas Islands because of a “tacit acceptance” of London’s position. Ambassador Moreno told Prime Minister Lord Palmerston that this was not the case: “Argentina will never accept their position and continues to claim its rights”, he replied. The British authority itself, according to the Foreign Ministry’s own compilation, nodded.

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