THE POPULATION THAT WAS NOT EXPELLED.
In his opening address to the Argentine seminar at the London School of Economics on 3 December 2007, Ambassador Mirré repeated what is probably the most serious distortion in Argentine accounts –
The idea that Britain expelled an Argentine population from the Falklands in 1833.
Argentina has claimed this repeatedly
at the United Nations. But it is not true.
When HMS Clio arrived, there were 33 genuine resident civilian settlers; Captain Onslow gave them a free choice of staying or leaving;
he applied no pressure on them to leave and indeed encouraged some to stay. Only four of them chose to leave – they are named in books by the prominent Argentine historians Ernesto J. Fitte and Mario Tesler, Argentina’s current leading expert on the Falklands:
Joaquín Acuña and his wife Juana Mateo González and his wife Marica.
Acuña and González were gauchos who worked for Vernet. Three single men also left, described as “foreigners”: José Viel, Juan Quedy and Francisco Ferreyra.
They cannot have been genuine residents,
as not one of them appears in Vernet’s accounts; they probably arrived on the Sarandí, as did Máximo Warnes, who is described as a “prisoner” and was probably the first inmate for a proposed penal settlement in the Falklands.
In addition, a British seaman, Charles Brasier, and an American seaman, William Drake, were taken aboard the Clio.
Vernet’s American settlement manager, Henry Metcalf, left in the Rapid; he is known to have wanted to leave, and he claimed Vernet owed him money.
Only 11 civilians left, most of whom were not genuine residents. They were not expelled; they made a free choice.
Of the civilian residents, 22 remained at Port Louis: 12 from Argentina (8 gauchos, 3 women and 1 child); 4 were Charrúa Indians from Uruguay; 2 were British, 2 German, one French and one from Jamaica.
So over half the population who stayed were Argentinian.
Before he left, Captain Pinedo told the Frenchman who stayed, the illiterate head gaucho Jean Simon, that he was to be “Comandante Político y Militar”. Whether Simon agreed to this or not, he certainly never attempted to act as such.
But he was loyal to his employer. He defended Vernet’s property against other gauchos who wanted to share it among themselves, and maintained Vernet’s business, which later cost him his life .
Argentine historians know very well that he was not expelled.
Only the garrison was expelled. They had been in the islands for only three months since arriving on 6 October 1832, and of the 26 soldiers, 10 had been involved in the murder of Mestivier.
Nine of them were under arrest aboard the British schooner Rapid. The garrison was in no sense a genuine population.
Far from expelling the resident population, Captain Onslow did his best to persuade them to stay. In his report he states:
I had great trouble to pursuade 12 of the Gauchos to remain on the Settlement, otherwise cattle could not have been caught, and the advantages of refreshments to the shipping must have ceased.
Later in his report Onslow states:
I regretted to observe a bad spirit existed amongst the Gauchos, they appeared dissatisfied with their wages...
The whole of the inhabitants requested me to move the government in their favour for grants of land.
The gauchos were dissatisfied because they were being paid in worthless paper “currency” printed by Vernet instead of silver coins.
Onslow sailed in HMS Clio on 10 January 1833, and a few days later another small British ship, HMS Tyne, commanded by Captain Charles Hope, paid a brief visit to Port Louis (14-18 January).
On board was Colonel Belford Hinton Wilson,
the British ambassador-designate to Peru,
who spoke fluent Spanish.
He spoke in Spanish to the gauchos, who told him they had been paid in silver by Captain Onslow, whereas Vernet had paid them in worthless paper “currency”.
Wilson reported to the Admiralty:
These Gauchos would cheerfully remain on the Island under any Englishman whom the Government may please to appoint..
All this shows beyond doubt that the genuine inhabitants were not expelled or in any way molested.
In fact they appear to have looked forward to an improvement in their situation under the British flag.
So the Argentine claim that Britain expelled an Argentine population from the Falkland Islands in 1833, which was repeated by Ambassador Mirré at the seminar on 3 December 2007, is untrue and a most serious error.
Nevertheless it underlies the Argentine claim to the Falklands
and provided much of the justification for the Falklands War of 1982
in which a thousand people died.
Graham Pascoe September 2010
Peter Pepper V29
Please go to WWW.falklandshistory.org
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