06/03/2013 Newsnight


The economic legacy of Hugo Chavez, British help for the Syrian rebels, payday loans reform and the Argentine take on the Falklands. With Gavin Esler.

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Tonight, as President Chavez is mourned in Cuba, Bolivia and across


the world, as well as in his own country, Venezuela, did he waste


billions of dollars in oil wealth, or bring a degree of social justice


to the poor? Also tonight, as the number of refugees reaches one


million in Syria, the Government promises armoured vehicles and body


armour to the main opposition. Should we give them bullets and


guns as well? We cannot look the other way while


international law and human rights are flouted. We cannot step back


from a crisis that could destablise the heart of the Middle East.


payday loan companies have 12 weeks to clean up their act or else. We


discuss with the payday loan boss and campaigning MP, whether


stricter advertising guidelines will make any difference. 30 years


after Argentina planted this flag on the Falkland. What do the


Argentinians make of the islanders holding a referendum on their


future. TRANSLATION: What is the point in asking these people if


they want to be British, it is like asking an Argentinian if he wants


Good evening, Hugo Chavez is not dead, he's immortal. That, at least,


was the tone of the mourning on the streets of Caracus today. His


revolution is irreversible, according to the Government of Cuba.


But is it? Will the passing of the man who was a thorn in the side of


the United States, mean a major change to the politics of Latin


America. Did he really use $1 trillion of Venezuela's oil wealth


to transform his country, as his supporters claim, or is the real


Chavez legacy one of posturing, waste, authoritarianism and lost


opportunities. In a moment, Paul Mason will assess the economic


legacy of the man known as El Comandante. First I'm joined from


Caracus, which has seen extraordinary scenes today, by


Venezuela's ambassador to the UK. There is a short delay on the line.


What were the scenes that you witnessed like in Caracas today?


Thank you for the invitation. The scenes today are historic scenes,


because we are witnessing the passing of the most popular man in


perhaps the last 150 years in our history. One of the most popular


and respected men in Latin America. So the hundreds of thousands of


Venezuelans who poured on to the streets to pay their respect to


their leader. They did it in a very quiet way. They were expressing


their emotions. You could see there was no trouble whatsoeverment they


were marching along, crying, but also celebrating his life. Making


sure that his legacy would go on in the future. You say that, but how


can you be sure that it won't simply be rolled back when the new


President comes in, in 30 days? new President, who will be elected


over the next four weeks, almost surely will be Gabriel Mudingayi,


because he's the one -- Nicolas Maduro, because he's the one,


chosen by the people, even today you could say that this mourning


march with hundreds of thousands, they were also pushing for Maduro,


because he as the one who can guarantee that Chavez's work will


remain and will succeed. I mean Maduro and Chavez now are a kind of


combination. The one important thing to know here is that Chavez


changed, he brought a sea-change in Venezuelan politics, now people


have to be concerned for the poor, people have to put the poor first.


The poor are in the picture and welfare for the poor and concern


for social issues is important. Any politician from any sector of


society who doesn't follow those principles won't succeed in


Venezuela. There is a new kind of politics where the poor are the


priority. Please stay with us, because we


want to continue this discussion. First our Economics Editor Paul


Mason. In Caracus, the send-off has begun.


Wall-to-wall people, mourning a President who survived a coup, won


four election, but could not beat cancer. Neighbouring Presidents


paid their respects, here Bolivia's Evo Morales, toiling on foot, amid


the thronging crowd. The Chavez movement mourned. TRANSLATION:


Chavez is alive among us and will continue this fight. Chavez sowed


and he will see what he sowed, we will continue to be with Chavez.


But Chavez, the root to economic radicalism, was opened by the


failed military coup of 2002. With the old elite now powerless,


he began what he called the Bolivarian Socialist Revolution.


Over the last 12 years Venezuelan oil revenues are rocketed to $100


billion a year W that money he changed things. Venezuela's poverty


rate fell, outstripping the average fall for Latin America. After the


financial crisis, growth was not spectacular, critics blamed the


scale of nationalisation, and the flight of capital. Inflation


remains persistently high. I have been close to Chavez for the


best part of a decade. If anybody knows what Chavez was trying to do


it is this man. A British marks igs, whose books Chavez read -- Marxist,


whose books Chavez read and became a close associate. Millions of poor


people in Venezuela without access to health, were provided free


medical service by the Cuban doctors, which was a deal in


exchange for oil and provided by Cuban doctors. And there was a


report that say the that Venezuela was illiteracy-free. I don't think


that gets to the heart of the question. Here is a man, you can


say what you like, here is a man that gave a voice to millions of


poor people that had no choice previously. Though inequality has


fallen and is the lowest in Latin America, the Chavez regime came


under persistent criticism from human rights groups, for political


pressure on judges, and on the opposition media. For his opponents,


the economic upside all comes at a price. 14 years of Chavez's rule


has left Venezuela, frankly, in a shambles. It has one of the highest


inflation rates in the world. On par with places like Zimbabwe or


Ethiopia. It has staggering debt, large and growing fiscal deficit,


crumbling infrastructure, growing blackouts and power outages are now


common. Soaring crime. Almost every facet of economic life and social


life in Venezuela is in worse nonthan when he found it.


Chavez didn't just use the oil money at home, he used it to help


Cuba, to help Argentina clear its debts. He used preferential oil


prices to aid allied countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.


The result is a continent visibly shifted to the left. But now


Venezuela faces a new election, and the opposition is set to stand on


the platform of an end to free oil for other countries. In London


tonight, those signing the book of condolence know that for a


revolution this one relied mightly on the will and popularity of one


man. Chavez did not by any traditional definition deliver


socialism. What he delivered was a capitalism of redistribution, a


pro--poor capitalism. And he used the oil -- pro-poor capitalism. He


use the oil money to defy the United States and gain diplomatic


independence like no-one else in Latin America. Where Venezuela goes


next depends on how that can survive without the personality of


the man himself. While some expect a phase of moderation after this


mass outpouring of grief, others want the masses, thus mobilised, to


push things further. You can't plan what you don't control. You don't


control what you don't own. In other words they have done half the


job, but the other half remains to be done. And the job as far as you


are concerned would be that classic socialist transformation? Oh yes.


We will never know what Hugo Chavez would have done with his fourth


presidential term. What his successor does will have impact all


over Latin America. The ambassador is still with us from Caracus, and


we will be joined by Argentina's ambassador to the United Nations,


and the documentary film-maker and who met Chavez.


Ambassador, the charge against Chavez is you should be a much


richer country, but he's made a mess of it. For example, a third of


your oil export money is use to pay off the debt to the Chinese. It is


economic lunacy? OK thank you very much for that question. One of the


facts that most people ignore can you hear me? Let's see if you can


hear me. I can hear you? Can you hear me now. Yes. OK, one of the


facts that most, one of the facts that most people ignore is that the


20 years previous to Chavez's Government the Venezuelan economy


fell for almost 20%. And that was what explains Chavez's victory in


1998. Even though with all the oil and money that we had previously,


the Venezuelan society impoverished itself to ridiculous levels. With


Chavez we have reverted that tendency, and that is why you can


see millions of people voting for Chavez for more than 15 elections.


So it is ridiculous to say that the country is in a shambles, when the


real shambles, we had it before Chavez. OK, ambassador we will


leave it there, thank you very much for joining us from Caracus.


Let's go over to Arao, and Emilio Cardenas, -- Buenos Aires, and


Emilio Cardenas, can you explain to me how you think the country has


performed under Chavez, when we have heard that what he did was he


took a country where there were huge discrepancies between rich and


poor, and he allowed a degree of social justice? My major concern


with these 14 years under Hugo Chavez that Venezuela has gone


through has to do with the deterioration of democracy. Under


Chavez the checks and balances of democracy have virtually


disappeared. The legislationive body is just rubber stamping what


the executive power says, the judiciary is not independent any


longer. There is a major concentration of power in the hands


of the executive. In addition to that, Venezuela has lost some of


their fundamental freedoms. We will come on to that in greater detail


for a second. Would you accept in terms of the economy that he has


tried to redistribute wealth to some of the poorest people in his


country, and that's why so many of them turned out today. They think


he's got a grip on the economy, the right grip? Are you asking me about


the situation of the Venezuelan economy now? Yes.


I think that the economy is going through a major difficulty. They


have just, as you know, devalued. They have a very high inflation.


There are all kind of price distortions caused by the subsidise.


-- subsidies. If Maduro is elected that is not going to change at all.


If the opposition instead makes it to the Government in the forth


coming elections, then the Venezuelan economy may begin to be


rebuilt. But at this time the people of Venezuela, after the


devaluation, have relatively lost a lot of the standards of living


particularly compared with neighbours. The economy of


Venezuela is far from being in an ideal situation. Let me bring in my


guest in the stud yo. It is far from an ideal situation. We see a


lot of run away inflation, and a lot of money that could have been


spent on building up the intrastructure and it hasn't been


done. Dfrpb infrastructure, and it hasn't been done. When talking


about the flainflaigs it was 55% when chaff -- talking about


inflation, it was 55% before Chavez took over the presidency. There


were massive investment in infrastructure, growth last year


was 5.6%. I think someone mentioned that there has been mass social


investment. This is the reason why millions of Venezuelans are voting


for Chavez. If the scenario this doomsday scenario presented by


other speakers, it would be counterintuitive for Venezuelans to


vote for Chavez. The oil production has dropped by 25% since 2001,


there is a booming oil price, it is not a well-run economy? It is part


of a cartel, as part of an OPEC cartel, sometimes oil production


has to decrease in order for the price to remain high. What about


the debts, $45 billion of debts to the Chinese, taking up oil exports


a third of them just to service it, that is nuts? I know with the


Government they have signed close to 300 agreements with China. Last


year there was one signed for $40 billion worth of investment. It is


diversifying its economy away from the US. I think this is to the


benefit of the Venezuelan people. Let me bring in Emilio Cardenas


again, do you accept that he was elected several times, fairly,


international observers said these were fair elections. So even though


there were problems with the press and some of the anti-democratic


pressures you talked about, fundamentally he was the legitimate


ruler of his country? I can hardly hear you, my friend. The


microphones and earphones are not working well. Do you accept that he


was elected several times fairly and in that sense he was a


democrat? Well, to be a democrat you need more than being elected by


normal elections. You need to respect the values of democracy,


and you need to uphold, by the institution, respecting the working


of the institutions. So I think that one thing is to look


democratic, and a very different thing is to be democratic. I think


that Venezuela has now a chance to recover democracy. We will see


whether the opposition can grab that chance. Alternative low they


will stay in a situation where they may look democratic, as I said, but


where the working of the democracy is far from the normal work of a


democracy. A final thought on that. Isn't that the point, that he may


have done certain things for social justice, as you say, he did them by


being an autocrat rather than a democrat? I find it strange that an


autocrat has 15 elections in 14 years, and won three presidential


elections with resounding victories. I have to be careful. But he closed


down the opposition, some opposition press people, he put


people in jail, without due process of law. These are not the action of


a democrat? Again my understanding of these cases is probably


different to yours. We don't have time to go into them. With regard


to the private media, we can't forget that they essentially played


an instrumental role in the US- supported coup against them. They


are regulated in a way they would have been regulated in Britain.


Thank you very much. In a moment, what do the payday


loan companies need to do to stay in business? And 30 years on,


mapping the future of the Falkland. Now, is Britain tiptoeing towards


arming the members in Syria. The Foreign Secretary, William Hague,


announced body armour and armoured vehicles and communication


equipment will be sent to the rebels. It is to protect civilians,


it is not guns and bullets, not yet. The day when we learn a million


Syrians have been forced out of the country by horrific violence, one


in 20 of the population. Should we avert a further humanitarian


catastrophe by giving the fighters what they say they need?


Faced with what he called extreme human suffering, the Foreign


Secretary, William Hague, announce the UK would be stepping up support


for the Sir -- announced the UK would be stepping up support for


the Syrian opposition. We are identifying equipment most useful


to them and most likely to save most lives. I will keep the House


updated. It will certainly include armoured four-wheel drive vehicles


to help opposition forces move around more quickly, and he


protection equipment, including body armour. For the rebels it is


not enough. They argue they need weapons and ammunition to fight Al-


Assad's regime. The west has been reluctant to give them what they


want. Many have pointed out that atrocities are committed on both


sides of the conflict. There are fears that any guns supplied by the


rest could go directly into the hands of extremists, including Al-


Qaeda, known to be active in the country.


The EU currently has placed an arms embargo on Syria, though Britain is


pushing for it to be relaxed. All the while refugees continue to


flood out of the country. With Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq,


all having to provide support for hundreds of thousands of Syrians


crossing their borders. The pressure for action is rising,


and with the Arab League saying today that their members are free


to offer military support to the rebels, just how long will it be


before British supplied weapons are being used in Siria.


Gareth Owen from Save The Children has returned from the region, and


the chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee is also with us.


What conditions are there in Syria? They are truly awful, unimagineably


awful. If you are a refugee, and we have reached a grim milestone where


one million have come, and half a million Syria. Millions of Syrians


are living in abject conditions. We are watching a middle income


country slowly but surely be completely destroyed. You are in a


humanitarian organisation, do you accept that the only thing to stop


this is ending the war, which means overthrowing Al-Assad, which means


someone may have to give guns to the rebels? I do think the end to


suffering is ending the war. We have to demand the global world


leadership finds a way to unite and create some actionable plan to


bring about the end of the conflict. To go as far as to say do I think


that is a question of arming the rebels. I think that is for others


to answer. Require Malcolm Rifkind raised it in the Commons. I


wondered if you thought armoured vehicles and flack jackets, and


water purification might be fine, but it won't bring it on an end?


Malcolm did raise it, I don't agree with him. I think there is a big


difference to giving aid to civic and rebel leaders we know. And


giving weapons and ammunition to hard-nosed militants who come from


all over the world to cause trouble, whom we don't know, and whose


intentions are unclear. Those, by definition, would be the wrong


hands. The recognised head of the opposition army, said they need


anti-aircraft missiles and aircraft, that would stop the stilling of the


civilians? I think William Hague has got right. There has been a


step forward, announced today, we are providing more protective


weapons for the rebel leaders, we are providing testing equipment to


see if Al-Assad starts using chemical weapons. This is all very


important, but if you start going into the anti-tang territory, where


does it go? It is not -- anti-tang territory, where does it go. It is


Jihadis flocking in all from all over the world. That is the dilemma


for humanitarian organisations, I know you hate to say that people


need to be armed, but you need to stop the tangs and the planes?


on the side of the Syrians, and not on an armed group. I have worked in


conflict for 20 years, it ends up in the same place. Whether it is


Somali, where I started out, or the Balkans, sooner or later you get


into this debai. We have a more immediate concern, not to doubly


fail the people of Syria. If we can't find a political solution


quickly, that is a shame. It would be a disgrace if we didn't upscale


the urgent humanitarian relief, not reaching the people in Syria in


adequate cannotties at the moment. Part of the debate you have already


raised, the specter of Afghanistan and Iraq, where guns did fall into


the hands of other people, you arm one lot and it turns out to be the


Taliban or Al-Qaeda who get T on the other hand there is Bosnia, as


was suggested, and Rwanda, where we didn't do anything, and now you


know did nothing but hand wringing afterwards? It is slightly academic


as to whether or not we should be supplying arms to the rebels. They


are being supplied already by other people. The Arab League have now


said, but not enough? You say that. There seems to be a lot of stuff


going in there, whoever is supplying at the moment I'm sure


can up it. We have to carry people with us, the United Nations won't


back this, as long as China and Russia are exercising a veto. The


EU is being fairly supportive, but up to a point. I think actually in


a rational, proportion national response to what is going on at the


moment, where the Foreign Secretary is the right place to be. It was a


move forward? It was, closer to intervention. He left all options


on the table. He did, I wondered if relaxing or threatening to relax


the EU arms embargo, would that possibly be yet another step in the


right direction? It would, it is more or less what he has done. He


has kept his options open. He has said this is under constant review.


He has made it clear that is something they will go back to.


do you see things developing over the next few weeks? Not well. The


history of these situations is it gets worse and worse. Six month


from now we could be talking about two million refugees and a million


children fleeing. Where does it end? I don't know, there is no easy


answer. My experience tells me this gets worse and worse, and the


humanitarian scenario become more and more acute, with increasing


loss of life, and we end up a year from now in the same place, only


much, much worse. You have eloquently explained the dilemma,


two million refugees, three million, there is another couple of million


displaced within Syria. Where do we say that is it? There is no obvious


answer to this. It is, frankly, just a mess at the moment. As long


as the international community can't agree on this, then we have


trouble moving forward. William Hague did meet the Deputy Foreign


Minister for Russia today, he's meeting the Foreign Minister next


week, he will continue to put the pressure on. It is quite possible


that Assad may run out of money, sooner or later, there may be other


forces there who may topple him. What is going to step into the


vacuum is far from clear at the moment.


Thank you both very much. Fundamental problems, irresponsible


lending, widespread breaches of the law and regulations, causing misery


and hardship. That is the Office of Fair Trading's verdict on the


payday loan industry. After researching the methods used by the


50 biggest lenders in the country, Wo nark ga and the like. The loan


companies have been given an ultimatum, clear up the �2 billion


industry or else. Liz Matthews is not your average


payday loan customer. While most have jobs, she doesn't. But in


other ways she is typical. Someone in need of a short-term cash


injection. Drawn in by the ease with which she could get it,


undeterred by the spiralling interest payments that kicked in


the moment she couldn't pay it back. Looking back now, I think how


stupid I was. I got into a vicious cycle, where I borrowed all


together four loan, and in the end I couldn't pay any of them back.


How much was the original loan, how much do you owe now? The original


loan was �300, and I owe now clearly �2,000. I was very worried,


I thought how can I pay it back. You can't sleep. You can't sleep at


night. Newsnight featured other payday


loan customers last year. Just before the �2 billion industry was


warned it had to serve them better. These borrowers arranged almost


instant loans from the comfort of their smartphones. My first loan I


took out a month ago, I oozed it to go out and see my friends. Without


that I couldn't see them. Aided by technology and abetted by the


banks' reluctance to lend, the payday loan industry has doubled in


size in the last three years. The Government said today it was


concerned customers were being lured into taking out unsuitable


loans. With advertising offering A number of payday lenders have


been laifing in a completely irresponse -- behaving in a


completely irresponsible way. The OFT are putting 50% on notice over


their behaviour. They are requiring them to take specific actions.


Office of Fair Trading's main concerns are failure to check a


customer's ability to repay a loan. Failure to explain adequately how


payments will be collected. Aggressive debt collection


practices, including not showing enough understanding for customers


struggling to pay. Payday lenders are required to assess the


affordability of every loan they make, to make sure that people can


repay those loans. And yet that seems to be in conflict with the


fact that they earn up to half of their revenues from customers who


fail to repay their loan first time round. That suggests to us this


market really isn't working the way it should, for that reason we are


proposing to refer this market to the Competition Commission, it will


be able to put in more radical changes if it thinks it is


necessary These companies are rewarded through customers'


difficulty? It would looks a though these firms are winning significant


revenues, yes, from the fact that their customers are unable to pay


things on time. In 12 months, the financial regulator, the FCA, will


take over responsibility for the payday loan industry. It will have


powers to impose a cap on the run away interest rates, which can,


when loans are rolled over, snowball to several thousand per


cent. When the FCA takes over the Office of Fair Trading will cease


to exist. This strike against the loans' companies could be seen as a


dying gasp. But the OFT prefers to call it an enforcement priority,


warning that if the industry doesn't shape up within 12 short


week, the worst offenders might lose their license to trade.


Liz is repaying her now large loan at the rate of �3 a week. She


thinks today's measures don't go far enough the When you see them


advertise, it is just so easy to get, a few minutes on-line, you


state how much you want. You don't really notice how much interest you


are paying back. I think the interest rate should definitely be


capped. It is an awful lot of money they ask you.


The payday loan market says it is already put improvements in place,


but will consider going further. Access to credit remains a


necessary service. But they will have to show that in answering that


need, they are not making a bad situation for their customers even


worse. We called more than a dozen payday


lenders who declined to appear tonight, but Jason Gardiner runs


Friday Friday, who calls itself an ethical company. How do we dress it


up asset kal, it is a pretty scumy business? There is a lot of


nastiness going on about the business and rightly so. The


industry has a bad reputation at the moment, that is because of the


things highlighted today. The way we say they are ethical, we want to


do things differently, we want regulation in the industry, we want


to be seen to be different, we ant to act differently -- act


differently and put the consumer first. We know the top ones are


being investigated. The FT has said it is right across the sector,


clawing back debts and earning up to half their revenue from rolled


over deals. You do that? We limit roll overs to three. Three?


three roll overs, then we convert any capital they owe into a 6-12-


month loans. The you are not as bad as others, but that is seriously


bad? We have to give people the option, if they can't pay after the


first month, they have to have an option to do something, or what is


the alternative. Most companies do what you are talking about. Why do


you advertise on your website that you don't do credit check, if you


do them, you don't do them the way in which banks do. That is shoddy


practice this report has shown is widespread. I have just checked


your website this evening? It is not on our website. I hate to go to


your website, it is on there now, it says you don't do credit check,


what the OFT has said it shoddy. clearly do credit checks. You say


it is not on your website, but you do the same practices? We credit


check every single application, we validate the bank account, address,


credit history, how many payday loans and loans they have, how many


credit cards they have. We do full affordability. If he didn't exist,


wouldn't people go to unlicensed back street loan sharks? I don't


want payday lending to end, I want it like other counts, the rates are


capped and we don't see the problems. We see lower levels of


personal borrowing and illegal lending. You would be OK with


capped interest rates? Capped interest rates as long as we can


sit down and do to properly, as long as we sit down and it has to


be sensible caps. Because the cost to fund payday loans is the costing


a lot. 1,000% would be OK, not 500%? That is based on a lon over


three months, these are short-term loans. Your APR is 17,000 per cent.


It is not an annual loan it is a month loan. (all speak at once) In


Japan they have worked to go from a 79% cap, to a 20% total cost cap?


We need to sit down and lock at it. We are pushing it, I asked you four


months ago to sit down and discuss it. On Twitter you called me niave


and ignorant of the industry. accused you of looking a blanket


over the industry, and accusing us to be like Wonga, when I put it to


you, you said you are like Wonga and I won't sit down with you. We


want a cap, limit rollovers. didn't say that, I asked for the


data. What I said to all the companies I don't want nice dinners


I want date ta. Fantastic you want a cap? Do you want the cap like


Japan. Do you want a total cross cap, they have worked with the


industry and moved it down to 20%? We need to look at what is best in


this country for the people of this country. In terms of some of the


other options, should they just be banned from advertising all


together, we banned tobacco advertising on TV? I find the


puppets and all the adverts as annoying as everybody else, the


damage is done by the rates the companies charge. What the OFT


report shows today is these companies are pushing people into


debt because they make most of their money about the people who


repeat borrow and roll over and then the charges start. I have been


told your website says, right now, without any paperwork or credit


checks you can get a loan, I have just been told that? The without


paperwork is correct. Without credit checks, I'm being told


exactly that? This is exactly why the Government needs to step in.


This industry it is like asking turkeys to organise Christmas.


There are people in communities like mine who are really struggling


as a result of this. It is inexcusable having seen the


evidence today that this Government has failed to back the cap on


credit, I'm proud Labour has done? I think the FSA needs to get


involved when it is in place to do so. We are pushing for regulation,


we want it. We introduce debt management to individuals who


default on loans, we want to help them out of debt problems not into


it. She's saying the key problem is interest rates, and they have to be


capped? It is not just that, all the additional charges, the default


charges, the �25 to not pay on time. We are also the only financial


institution in the country, anyone who defaults we freeze interest at


that point. Most lenders do that. Including Wonga even. Not at the


point of default, they don't. If somebody comes to payday, their due


date, and we don't recoup the funds then, we freeze the interests.


17 though per cent. At the point in the original contract. Thank you


very much. 30 years ago Britain sent a task


force to liberate the Falklands from Argentina. And Argentina has


regularly asked for the return of the la Malin, and Britain has said


it is up to the islanders themselves. Just ahead of a


referendum, Sue Lloyd-Roberts reports from Buenos Aires about a


vote of a couple of thousand islanders, who definitely see


themselves as British, is viewed in Argentine na.


-- Argentina. This is one of Argentina's favourite rock bands


belting out the song they call, April 2nd. The day on which


Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands many years ago. It goes


down well with the young, many of them not born when the islands were


invaded. I met them in a park the next day to ask them why they care?


At school, we are taught that Malvenas are Argentinian, and


Argentina should claim them. That is our feeling. It is only natural


that the whole population will say that if you are taught that way


since a little kid. It is a little bit of brainwashing. I have never


begin brainwashed about any ideas. I have always -- been brainwash


about any ideas. I have always thought the islands were Argentina,


heiror kal and geographical, that is why. What about the referendum,


is it significant? It is the general will of the people, they


are actually electing the way of Government and which Government


will represent them. It is absolutely right. What happened in


1833, when the English Government arrived to the La Malvenos islands,


what happened to the people who lived there, and their self-


determination rights. Who is right? At the national library this


professor was eager to help. Bringing out an array of maps and


documents which show that over some 400 years, the islands had been


settled by the Dutch, the French, the Spanish, the Argentinians, and


then in the 19th century, Britain staked a permanent claim, and at


the time Argentina did not intervene. It is confusing, but the


professor put me right. The islands are Argentinian, she said.


The claim to the islands didn't matter that much 100 years ago.


When Britain was Argentina's most important trading partner.


Reminders of the close relationship litter the country. Like the


HurlinghamClub, built to kairt the huge British community that once


lived in Argentina, and where the Middlesex county cricket club play


against an Argentinian side of the You have like every part of the


world, people against and for, just mixed feelings.


And Britain's place in Argentina? It is difficult to say. I have got


both. My father is British, and I'm Argentine born. So I just find it


awkward. Everyone here want to draw a


distinction between people and politics. We have no problem with


the British people. We all study English at schools here. I love the


Rolling Stones, I love football, the Beatle, many things to love


from England. If -- Beatles, many things to love from England. If I


were to feel angry about somebody, I would feel angry about Margaret


Thatcher on the English side, but also the leaders on the Argentinian


side, both sides. The over 600 Argentinian war dead


are remembered in Buenos Aires every day.


One thing that everyone can agree on is a general -- General Gaultier


decision to invade the Falkland, was to gain popular support for a


military -- Tateorship, which by the 1980s was morally and


economically bankrupt. It didn't -- dictatorship which by the 1980s was


morally and economically bankrupt, it fell soon after. The Argentinian


economy is in trouble again. The sight of the unemployed collecting


rubbish, to sell on to recycling companies is a common one.


Strikes are frequent. Here teachers are demanding pay rises to match an


inflation rate which they say is nearly 30%.


The Government won't give an official figure.


Do they believe that this new row with Britain, over the Falkland,


could be a deliberate diversionary tactic by the country's President.


TRANSLATION: No, I can honestly say no. She has her own policy on the


islands, and economic issues are a separate matter in Argentinian life.


TRANSLATION: She's always talking about the island, it is an


historical thing, whether British or Argentinian, there is no


advantage for the working-classes. Nonetheless, the claim is might,


the islands are Argentinian. While most would say that the


referendum, being organised by the fouk land island Government this


weekend is -- Falkland islands Government this weekend is


irrelevant, political commentators think differently. The referendum


is a very historical issue, there is a they are part in the


historical conflict between argentinia and Great Britain. Not


only London and Buenos Aires, there is a third actor in the Falkland


Islands. That is the political authority of the Falkland Islands.


But this is the stuff of editorial writers and the chattering classes.


And doesn't interest the President. A few days ago, President Cristina


Fernandez De Kirchner, arrived in parliament for her state-of-the-


nation speech. And unveiled a flag which Argentinian troops had


planted on the Falkland Islands. She then confirmed her claim to the


island, and made no mention of the referendum. The President rarely


gives interviews. I asked a member of the Government committee for the


island, what he thinks about it? TRANSLATION: I want to ask you a


question, are those people living on the islands British? What's the


point of asking these people if they want to be British, it is like


asking an Argentinian if he wants to be Argentinian. They could do


without this referendum. There is no point to it, we know what the


outcome will be. Do you really expect us to believe that it is


self-determination that you care about? Not the oil, the military


importance of the south Atlantic and the territorial claims on


Antarctica? The wealth found in the area surrounding the Falkland puts


a new edge on the debate. Only 500 miles away, Argentina could benefit,


by providing for the need of oil companies operating here. There


were commercial links with the islanders before this present


Government refused to deal with an authority they won't recognise.


Isn't Argentina therefore in danger of missing out? That is a very


intelligent economic logic. This is a political problem. We have a


political conflict, and for Argentina the meaning of Malin os


is not logical it is political. In a country with a troubled recent


past it goes on. This week's referendum will change nothing. The


British Government is firm that the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands


is non-negotiable, without the agreement of the islanders


themselves the here in Argentina, people will continue to maintain


that the islands were, are and will be Argentinian.


Do you think you will see the islands become Argentinian in your


lifetime? No I don't think I will. Not become Argentina. I think it


should happen, but I don't think I will see it.


Yes, of course, I think they are Argentinian.


No, and I don't want that to happen unless the population there


actually decided they wanted to be Argentinian. I think that


argentinia is taking the -- Argentina is taking the wrong


approach, without harassing them, we should show them they have a lot


of education and economic opportunity here, that is a better


way to integrate them. Perhaps in 100 years they will decide they


want to be Argentinian as well. Veterans of the war demonstrate


daily in Buenos Aires for better pensions and recognition. For


everyone in Argentina, the islands provoke painful emotions for which


there is no immediate or practical solution.


Now a very quick look at the front That's all we have time for tonight,


Good evening. Wednesday, certainly brought a lot of cloud and through


Thursday, it is going to be another cloudy one. And we are going to see


outbreak of rain pushing support addically northwards, across the


north of Scotland -- support radically, northwards.


This cloud producing some outbreak of patchy rain. Most of it quite


light. Won't be surprised if you see the heavier burst here and


there. We may see glimmers of brightness from time to time. Grey,


cloudy conditions across Wales. Mist, muark and fog up over the


hills, and for Northern Ireland, it is a grey story with outbreak of


patchy rain. Wet weather for a good start of Scotland as well. Glimmers


of brightness here. Across the far north of Scotland and Shetland,


here we have a cold, strong Eastleigh wind. As I mentioned most


of the rain will be quite light. In any of our northern cities, don't


be surprised to see the heavier bursts on Thursday.


The economic legacy of Hugo Chavez, British help for the Syrian rebels, payday loans reform and the Argentine take on the Falklands. In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Gavin Esler.