No surrender!
 
Falklander Graham Bound on the dangerous and comic ways in which islanders resisted the occupation

Monday February 25, 2002
The Guardian


For the people of the Falklands, occupation was at best demeaning, at worst terrifying. Islanders were under the heel of a foreign dictatorship, which had so far generally behaved with moderation, but in whose armoury summary arrest, terror and even murder were known weapons. Nicolas Kasanzew, an Argentinian journalist on the islands who allied himself with puppy-like loyalty to the hardline faction, probably represented their attitude accurately when he wrote: "The Kelpers [the Argentinians' favoured name for islanders] were our arch-enemies. From the first moment, I felt they were going to be fifth columnists. I was not mistaken. They are basically shepherds; primitive in their way of life. In their character and their appearance, they are hybrids. Their attitude towards Argentina was absolutely negative. Kelpers, like the English, respect nothing except force."

Kasanzew was right in one respect: the islanders refused to accept Argentinian rule, and many of them went to great lengths to make the occupiers' lives as miserable as possible and to assist the British task force. Resistance ranged from the comic - Eric Goss, the farm manager at Goose Green, managing to persuade the Argentinians that the odd lights probably emanating from British special forces in Falkland Sound were due to moonlight reflecting off seaweed covered rocks - to the downright dangerous: Reginald Silvey, the former lighthouse keeper, spent the war broadcasting details of Argentinian troop movements on an illegal-held radio. At the perilous extreme, several fully-armed local men went into battle with the men of the parachute regiment at Mount Longdon.

Some key workers who stayed at their posts in Stanley struggled with the ambiguity of their situation. But knowing that the town (still home to hundreds of islanders) could only function if local people continued to run the town's water and electricity services, they resigned themselves to working for a new boss in the public works department (PWD), the army engineer Colonel Manuel Dorrego. Although the occupiers benefited from their services, the engineers, mechanics and technicians made it clear that they were working for their own people and they drew the line at work that was purely for the benefit of the military.

Ron Buckett, the head of the plant and transport authority a grand title for the PWD's motley collection of Land Rovers, tractors, trucks and excavators, conveyed this message to Colonel Dorrego in no uncertain terms. Initially Bucket and his staff of mechanics distributed Land Rovers to locals wanting to leave Stanley for the farms. Other vehicles they secretly disabled, while a few were kept in good running order for the hospital and power and water staff.

Some of those involved in the informal civil defence organisation kept themselves busy in quieter periods by designing and photocopying flyers that ridiculed the Argentinians. When official posters appeared around town urging troops to keep the town clean by using wastebins marked "Malima" (Mantenga Limpia Malvinas - keep the Malvinas clean), Buckett came up with his own variation. His cartoon depicted a diminutive local in woolly hat and wellington boots, with the stump of a fag hanging out of his mouth, kicking an Argentinian soldier towards a British Marine, who in turn booted the man into a Malima bin. Photocopied under the nose of Colonel Manuel Dorrego in the PWD, the flyers were pinned to walls and lampposts around the town. As quickly as they were removed, more would appear. Another common poster depicted the ca

 
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