The Falklands/Malvinas War (1982): Argentina's unhealed scar
This war lasted less time, killed fewer people and resulted in a smaller exchange of territory than any of the other wars we've featured over the last few weeks. As wars go, it is a slightly absurd impostor. The ailing Argentine military junta decided to invade the Falkland Islands to buoy patriotic feelings, safe in the belief that Britain would not bother to retaliate. They hadn’t bargained for the fact that Margaret Thatcher was also struggling politically and she saw the invasion as a chance to rekindle British jingoism. The conflict lasted 72 days and just over 900 people lost their lives.
After the war The Falklands went back to being British but to this day every Argentinean border post features a sign which reads ‘LAS MALVINAS SON ARGENTINAS’ ('The Malvinas are Argentinean'). The Argentines still harbor a healthy hatred of the Brits, and never is this more evident than when the two countries meet on the soccer pitch; the major distinction being that in this case Argentine footballers possess more impressive artillery than their military. Whatever your beliefs, don’t discuss the war with Argentines unless you know them well and never refer to the islands as the Falklands…they’re Las Malvinas.
- In Buenos Aires the Madres de Plaza de Mayo gather every Thursday afternoon to honor their children who were lost during the military dictatorship.
- The most comprehensive Malvinas museum is in Cordoba of all places (Museo Nacional de Malvinas - no English website, fittingly!).
- If you want to visit the islands themselves you can fly from Chile or the UK but it’s neither cheap nor easy.