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'I was Argentine on the Falklands'

By Ben King

Updated on 01 February 2007

Alex Reid speaks to Channel 4 News online's Ben King about being the only Argentine living on the Falklands at the time of the conflict.

Some 25 years after the end of the war, the memory of the conflict is still strong in the minds of the Falklands' population - and the people on the islands are not always welcoming to their Argentinean neighbours.

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Alex Reid has a foot in both camps; his mother was a Falklander and his father was Argentinean, or at least Anglo-Argentine, who came to work in the South American country in the 1960s on a road gang.

'I became known as the first Argentine to be born in the Falkland Islands'

He met my mother, and stayed here and had me. So I became known as the first Argentine to be born in the Falkland Islands. Even though as far as I am concerned I am a Falkland Islander and not an Argentine, for [the Falklanders] that's what I was," he says.

He left the Islands in 1982, shortly before the war started, to go to school in Argentina.

"My memories from then are rather vague. I seemed to forget a lot of things that happened in those years. A bit due to the trauma.

'I was treated like a king in Argentina, even before the war broke out'

'A solemn time'

"But what I do remember very well is that I was treated like a king in Argentina, even before the war broke out. And when the war broke out all I can remember is people saying to me: 'Good, the Falklands are finally Argentine!' and: 'Are you happy'?

"Of course, I was 12-years-old, and my family were down in the Falkland Islands and I didn't really know how to respond. But there was never any animosity and I never had any problems from the Argentines during the war or anything like that- on the contrary."

He was still in Argentina when the occupying force surrendered. "It was quite a solemn time, from what I remember. Not much was said about it.

His father died the same year of the conflict, of natural causes. The Islanders resented how he had helped the Argentines during the war.

'As far as a lot of people in the Islands are concerned my father was just a traitor'

"My father, according to the belief of a lot of people, was rather pro-Argentine and he helped the Argentineans in various ways. I'm not sure whether he helped them just by giving them the odd hot meal or if he helped them any more, but as far as a lot of people in the Islands are concerned my father was just a traitor."

"So when I came back to the islands in 1993, I came back for a visit. I was the first person who had gone to live in Argentina that had actually come back and I expected the worst. I actually expected some very hostile treatment."

This didn't materialise. What was past, was past. "Generally speaking most people recognise the fact that I was 12-years old when I went to live in Argentina and that I didn't have a choice.

"Most people are quite happy to see me around, you know, that I'm just another fellow Falkland Islander."

"There are always the few that don't like to see me on the streets, I know that although nobody has ever said anything to me, but you know you sense it and you feel it and it's obvious that some people are not going to be happy that I am here, because I am the son of Randall Reid, who was a traitor to the Islands."

"But on the whole I must say that I was received a lot better than I thought I would have been."

"The Falkland Islanders differentiate very well between people who come to the Islands because of politics, or who are pro-Argentine, and people who come to the Islands because it's just part of their life coming to the Falklands."

But he insists that Argentinean veterans are well received.

"The ones I have spoken to go back to their country at rest with themselves, because they remember 1982 only and they haven't been to the Falklands since. They don't see much of it on the television except pictures and videos of the war."

He now works in the fishing industry, an industry which has helped to contribute to the Islands' healthy post-war economy.

'The islands are doing very well'

"The islands are doing very well, I hope the fishery carries on as it is or even gets better. As long as the fishery stays as it is, or even gets better these islands have a very good future.

"We have had our bad years when squid has dropped and catches have been poor but generally speaking the economy has been very very good."

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