BUENOS AIRES, june 15th (D&N) – The speech recently delivered by the Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at the UN Special Committee on Decolonization session was emotionally charged, too lengthy and contained only a single notable excerpt: a reference to a very interesting historical precedent- the unfolding of negotiations during Peron’s third government.
For some time in 1974, progress was made on a British-Argentine Falkland Islands administration program through the formation of a condominium, the implementation of which would currently be unfeasible with a leader who is averse to dialogue and to the search for a consensus.
Apart from reiterating this obsession with the Malvinas by utilising such a sensitive and popular subject in the same way the English do (to distract citizens’ attention from more pressing domestic problems) the presidential speech in fact revealed a number of contradictory and questionable aspects.
Delivered in a typically exculpatory style, a reference to the "international tale” about the last military dictatorship particularly stands out amongst the quite unusual points made in the speech: “What are we Argentines to blame for regarding the events that began in March 24th 1976? Why is it then that they denounce (sic) us when we had absolutely nothing to do with that dictatorship? In fact, we were firmly opposed to it”, she declared.
It is common knowledge that the latter, as far as CFK and her late husband Néstor are concerned, is not true.
The following observations were, however, a much more serious matter: “ the very dictatorship which unilaterally decided, without any consultation to Argentinians, the events of April 2nd”, and “today upon seeing the so-called Falkland Islands’ flag fluttering at 10 Downing Street I cringed, Mr. President, because wars are not to be celebrated nor commemorated. Do you know why? Because that war cost many lives.”
Could the President then be so kind as to throw some light on the reason why April 2nd is a national holiday in Argentina? How is she planning to conciliate the logic of her discourse with the existence of such a holiday in the country in which she is currently Head of State, on a date which commemorates the day that an illegitimate government violator of human rights launched a military invasion?
And by the way, what’s Cristina’s judgement on the role played by those countries which, in a spirit of “solidarity”, supported the military dictatorship’s act of war and today back the Argentine democratic government’s claim to the UN?
While the April 2nd national holiday was established by law during the “Alianza” coalition government, the initiative already had her full support when she was a national legislator. This new date in fact did away with the old “Day of Argentine Sovereignty over the Malvinas, Sandwich and South Atlantic Islands” holiday observed on June 10th. The latter commemorated the creation in 1829 of the "Political and military command of the Malvinas Islands and those adjacent to the Cape Horn in the Atlantic Sea” by a decree of the Buenos Aires Province’s interim governor, Brigadier-General Martín Rodríguez.
On a happier note, especially for political humourists, the following sarcastic presidential declaration remains particularly apt: “I would go as far as to say that few countries in the world enjoy of as much freedom and respect for the rights of our fellowmen as the Republic of Argentina. Rights to equality, liberty and freedom of expression.”
The President seems to have forgotten to add “except the right to buy 10 dollars” as in the resulting joke circulating on the internet these days.
However, two great truths in her speech to the UN Committee must be acknowledged: The first one being that “perhaps, that which politics cannot achieve, the economy might end up achieving”.
The second one was pointed out right before her last few words: “I think that following Mr. Bets and Mr. Vernet’s intervention, my own would not have been necessary.”
Gabriel C. Salvia is the General Director of the Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL).