Argentine President Cristina Fernandez repudiated Britain’s refusal to resume a dialogue on sovereignty over the Falkland islands, on the 30th anniversary of the start of the war between the two countries for possession of the South Atlantic archipelago.
In addition to insisting on a dialogue to resolve the dispute “in peace,” Fernandez said that she asked for the help of the International Red Cross in identifying the unknown Argentine soldiers buried on what Latin Americans call the Malvinas, some 740 kilometers (about 460 miles) east of Argentina.
Britain still rules “10 colonial enclaves,” among them the Falklands, Fernandez emphasized while presiding over a ceremony to commemorate the war in Ushuaia, capital of the remote southern province of Tierra del Fuego.
Argentina wants the 1965 United Nations resolution deeming the territorial dispute to be a case of colonialism that the parties must resolve through dialogue, keeping in mind the interests of the English population of the island, to “be obeyed.”
“The cause of the Malvinas” is not just that of Argentines but rather the Union of South American Nations and “all countries that demand peaceful dialogue” to resolve conflicts, she said.
Fernandez took advantage of the occasion to answer British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had said that Argentina was seeking “to steal the freedom” of the Falklanders when it invaded the islands 30 years ago.
“The Argentines also did not have freedom” when the war was launched, the president remarked referring to the fact that the occupation of the islands was ordered by a military dictatorship that unleashed a wave of repression that left some 30,000 people “disappeared” between 1976 and 1983.
Fernandez emphasized that the history of the Falklands “is not ... (one) that began 30 years ago ...(but rather) a history that next year will mark 180 years,” a reference to the islands being “usurped” by British troops in 1833.
“It’s a mid-19th century injustice that there still exist colonial enclaves like those we have here,” she said.
The 30th anniversary of the war was commemorated with events in all the large cities of Argentina, while in Buenos Aires protests outside the British Embassy turned violent, though no injuries were reported.
The question of the Falklands has been incorporated into the agenda of the 6th Summit of the Americas, set for April 14-15 in the Colombian city of Cartagena.
Argentine troops invaded the Falklands on April 2, 1982, at the order of the military junta then in power in Buenos Aires.
Full-fledged fighting in the islands officially began on May 1, 1982, with the arrival of a British task force, and ended 45 days later with the surrender of the Argentines.
The conflict claimed nearly 1,000 lives - some 700 Argentines and 255 British soldiers and sailors.
Relations between Buenos Aires and London have been tense since early 2010 due to oil exploration by British companies in Falklands waters.