May 20, 2013
A special day
Perhaps the real point of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s 19-minute speech in Ushuaia yesterday to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Malvinas war lies far more in what went unsaid — both in terms of other fronts within the pursuit of South Atlantic sovereignty (such as the escalating litigious hardball in the international business world) and other nationalist causes such as the looming nationalization of YPF oil. The speech itself added almost nothing new and thus falls beyond either praise or criticism. Apart from requesting the Red Cross to identify the “NN” war dead, CFK followed familiar lines in rejecting “anachronistic colonialism;” denouncing South Atlantic “militarization,” elevating a national cause to regional or even global dimensions and urging Britain to “nothing more than dialogue.” By sharing the rostrum with a veteran and Tierra del Fuego Governor Fabiana Ríos (nominally an opposition politician), CFK sought to make the event more than personal or partisan but still added her own spin — by stressing (not without justification) the extreme youth of the 1982 combatants in line with her current favouritism for youth (notably La Cámpora) and by injecting her pet issue of human rights in telling British Prime Minister David Cameron that if islanders lost their freedom with the 1982 invasion, all Argentines had been denied their freedom long beforehand. Perhaps the only objection to her speech would be that if she accuses Britain of robbing the islands, she was guilty of literary theft at least in attributing Lord Ponsonby’s dictum: “Truth is the first casualty of war” to the Argentine journalist and 1982 war veteran Edgardo Esteban.
Whether the other fronts lie beyond praise or criticism is another issue. The litigation against all economic activities in the South Atlantic which ignore Argentine sovereignty, now reportedly extending to banks, comes the week after the United States suspended Argentina’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits for ignoring international arbitration rulings — not the best basis for demanding respect for Argentina’s own global litigation. Nor is Malvinas sovereignty as a regional cause (which CFK is bound to take to the VI Americas Summit in Cartagena in a fortnight’s time) helped by 40 countries formally complaining about Argentina’s import restrictions to the World Trade Organization last Friday.
With at least two more big anniversaries in the next nine months, the Malvinas cause will not prove a one-day wonder as it prepares for the long haul — a long haul which may not include the rest of this week, however.