Monday, April 02, 2007

Twenty-five years ago - the start of the Falklands War

2nd April in 1982 was a Friday and it was the day that Argentina declared war on Britain and invaded the Falklands Islands/Las Malvinas and started a war which would last 74 days and see Argentina lose the Belgrano and the war. Argentina was then under a military dictatorship who thought they might win popular support by invading and winning the islands for their country. However, it was Mrs Thatcher who won the popular support in Britain by having Britain successfully defend the islands, dressing her misison up in Churchillian language which appealed to the masses.

A great pity for many reasons, especially as Argentina and Britain had very warm relationship with each other before the war. The war is also a personal tragedy for the people who fought in it and both sides, not only for the ones who died but also the ones who survived, many of whom have deep psychological scars, with may cases of suicide.

Since the war, reltions between the two countries have warmed up considerably, although recently there have been signs from the Argentinean side that relations are cooling and taking a harder stance against Britain, looks again like it could be an election winner.

Anyway, I have the diary I was keeping 25 years ago and I can see that whilst I was living with my grandmother in Beaconsfield and wad more pre-occupied on the day itself with what was going on at the horse races, at Aintree, and with some issue with insurance papers with my sister's then boyfriend in Slough. I did write that it was going to be a serious risk to the lives of British soldiers to recovery the Falkland Islands, it being no foregone conclusion at the time that we would win the war. Also, then just as there is now, there are doubts about the legality of Britain's claim to the islands in the first place. However, it can be said that the vast majority of the Falkland Islanders themselves wanted to be governed by Britain and that whatever the legality of each side's claim, an invasion of the Islands by Argentina was neither legal nor the best way about furthering theur aims.

I have since had the privilege of going to Argentina myself and I fell in love with the country, especially the wines, the gauchos, the mountains, the horses, the birds and so on. Even the Spanish I heard spoken there was a lot better on the ear than the Spanish I had heard in Spain a couple of years before.

Anyway, the economy is performing better now that the country has stopped with its IMF-imposed policies and there is a healthy democracy, so it can be hoped that Britain and Argentina can continue to find a way to co-operate with each other with regards to the islands and that good relations can be maintained.

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