Roger Waters softens Falkland remarks

Pink Floyd founder – in Buenos Aires for string of live shows – states position after interviews in Chile last week

Rock star Roger Waters has moved to soften his remarks on the Falklands Islands' ownership, posting on Facebook that he never stated categorically they belong to Argentina.

The former Pink Floyd bass player wrote that he had been misquoted in the Argentinian press from a press conference - but the Facebook posting does not address remarks he made separately to Chilean TV that he thought the Falklands "should be Argentine".

Waters arrived on Monday in Buenos Aires, where he will perform nine sold-out shows at the River Plate football stadium to an estimated 400,000 fans over the next two weeks. He is slated to meet President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at the Casa Rosada presidential palace on Tuesday before his first show on Wednesday.

In an interview transmitted by the Chilean channel TVN last Thursday, Waters was asked: "Falklands, Malvinas, what is your take? Is it British or is it Argentine?" Waters gave his opinion: "I think it should be Argentine."

The interview came on the heels of similar statements by the American actor Sean Penn in Buenos Aires and just before British singer Morrissey told a packed stadium in the central Argentinian city of Córdoba that "everyone knows they [the Falklands] belong to Argentina".

The statements by all three caused a stir against the backdrop of rising diplomatic tension between Argentina and Britain in the buildup to the 30th anniversary of the 1982 war between the two countries.

Unlike Morrissey, Waters did not state as fact that the islands belong to Argentina, but said he thought they "should" in the exclusive TVN Chile interview.

That interview went round the world and was carried out entirely in English, with an English-speaking Chilean journalist. But Waters in his Facebook post attributed the confusion to a separate "press conference in Santiago, Chile, where I answered questions for over an hour. As I speak no Spanish my answers were translated by an interpreter.

"A journalist from Argentina misunderstood me and wrote a news piece in an Argentine paper quoting me as stating categorically that the islands belong to Argentina. I said nothing of the kind."

In the actual interviews Waters qualified his remarks by saying it was a complicated situation and the Falkland Islanders should have a say.

In the Facebook posting, Waters goes on to state his position regarding the Falklands, reviewing their history since they were first sighted by European navigators five centuries ago. "The islands existed uninhabited for millions of years before the 16th century and will probably survive the extinction of the human race for millions more," Waters says.

"The tragedy of 1982, when 900 young lives were lost was that it was caused by the folly of two political leaders, Galtieri and Thatcher, who were both losing their grip on the reins of power and used the conflict as a distraction."

He goes on to say that "it was described at the time by a Chilean commentator as being like 'two bald men fighting over a comb'," misattributing the quote, which is from a poem by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.

The former Pink Floyd bass player goes on to say that "thirty years later the sound of sabres rattling is rising again. I am not a politician or a diplomat, and have no ready solution, but I am convinced it's time to sue for peace and seek a compromise, not push for victory. At the end of the day what really matters is that not one more drop of blood is shed on the altar of the imperial aspirations of long dead kings."

Uki Goni in Buenos Aires

The GuardianTramp

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