Jon Perdue: Diminishing differences between Kirchner and military dictator that invaded Falklands in 1982
By Jon B. Perdue
June 21, 2012
At the G20 summit on Tuesday, Argentine president Cristina Kirchner attempted what UK officials have called a “media stunt,” by handing British Prime Minister David Cameron an envelope labeled “UN Malvinas.” Argentina calls the Falkland Islands “Las Malvinas,” as a nearly 180 year affront to the UK, which has had legally-recognized possession of the islands since 1833.
Cameron, who had sought out Kirchner at the summit to quietly discuss issues prior to the next day’s session, told the Argentine president: “I am not proposing a full discussion now on the Falklands, but I hope you noted they are holding a referendum and you should respect their views. We believe in self-determination and act as democrats here in the G20.” Quite ironically, just last Thursday, a group of young Falkland Islanders had asked Kirchner to meet with them at a UN conference on “decolonization,” which she refused.
In 1982, the two countries went to war over the islands, when an alcoholic Argentine military dictator facing widespread protests at home used the Falklands issue as a nationalist rallying cry to thwart growing opposition to his rule. General Leopoldo Galtieri, an army officer that ousted another general in a coup to become president, said with stereotypical machismo that he didn’t think Britain’s Lady Thatcher would defend the islands, even though President Reagan spent an hour on the phone telling him not only that the UK would defeat them, but also that the U.S. would back Thatcher.