Thirteen years after losing a war to Britain over the Falkland Islands, Argentina is determined as ever to gain control of the disputed archipelago, even if it means buying out the 2,100 islanders who live there.
In recent weeks, the Argentine government has said that it is willing to consider paying the islanders a “large amount of cash” if they vote to transfer British sovereignty over the South Atlantic islands to Argentina.
While the Argentine government declined to say how much it would pay, estimates by officials in Argentina and Britain, who spoke on condition of anonymity, have ranged from $100,000 for each islander to $800,000 for each family.
The Argentine foreign minister, Guido di Tella, told reporters there that Argentina never will give up its claims to the islands and that it expects to regain them through diplomatic means and not by force.
Asked to confirm rumors that Argentina is willing to pay each island family about $800,000, di Tella said: “I wouldn’t like to start haggling now - it’s too early - but that’s the sort of money, yes. It’s a very substantial amount.”
A spokeswoman for the British Embassy in Buenos Aires said that Argentina has made no formal offer to buy the islands and that if such an offer is made, the government will respect the wishes of the islanders.
David Tatham, the British governor of the Falklands, said in a telephone interview from his office in Port Stanley that islanders would never exchange their citizenship for financial gain.