South Atlantic Council
Promoting communication and understanding
Thirty years after the Malvinas war
Originally published in Spanish by La Nación , Friday 30 March 2012, 17:30 pm, on their website at www.lanacion.com.ar/1461002-intelectuales-cuestionaron-la-conmemoracion-oficial-del-2-de-abril.
As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of the Malvinas war, it is necessary to reflect deeply on its strangeness. The only bellicose episode in which Argentina has been involved since the nineteenth century, it was triggered by an invasion initiated by the most bloody military dictatorship in our history, in the context of a society imbued with the spirit of just war. In the adventure, selfish short-term political motivation combined with territorial beliefs deeply embedded in the Argentines, who learnt from the experience that their images of the world and of Argentina itself had little to do with reality.
The Malvinas War must be condemned without question. As Argentines, we do not approve of 2 April having been declared the day of the veterans and of those who fell in the Malvinas War, as if that commemoration could hide that it is the Malvinas cause which is being justified, as if it were a moral cause but in bastard hands. The choice of 2 April is, in truth, a clear example of the official ambivalence which the democratic government has maintained in relation to the war and which has been aggravated in recent years. On the one hand, execration of the dictatorship never ceases but, on the other hand, remembrance of that war is established as part of a logic which implies accepting it in our history, as if it were a positive episode to be revived beyond the hopes of its perpetrators.
It is precisely 2 April, the day of the invasion of the islands, which was the critical moment of that tragic war, as the rest just followed. That activity, which was illegal in terms of international law and criminally irresponsible in terms of the value of human life, cannot, strictly, be called a defeat. That invasion was celebrated by Argentina. The territorial nationalism, crystallised in Malvinas, became united with the desire of the whole country for a solid achievement, after so many blows and so much unpleasantness, and the desire to organise a celebration from which very few would have resiled.
From the right and the left, many now believe the soil of the archipelago having been bathed in Argentine blood it has become obligatory to promote the Malvinas cause. Once more, the well-known mechanism of governance is employed. In this case, it is treated as another pearl of territorial nationalism: by making sacred the soil bathed in blood, we lose liberty of choice; we owe ourselves to it and not to our values and to our preferences, since it is the soil which is charged with value.
Also, an heroic quality is attributed to the soldiers and officers who died there. It is not a matter of denying that many of them, personally, behaved heroically (many of them showed exemplary solidarity with their comrades) but of resisting the manipulation of their memory when they were basically victims: heroism presupposes an heroic deed, triumph or defeat in a struggle founded in shared values and by virtue of which our political society is maintained, which is not the case with this painful military adventure. We, and we are certain very many Argentines alongside us, share neither the motives nor the values which gave it its terrible direction.
The fallen must be remembered, but not in the manner which officialdom proposes. The memory of the victims - those who fell in the islands, in South Atlantic waters and, owing to the scandalous contempt to which they were subjected, in the painful post-war period on the Continent - must be preserved, because it evokes a series of tragedies which still run through Argentina as ghosts: the violations of human rights, the painful collective waywardness to which the Malvinas cause took us, the dangers of armed forces possessed of a crusading spirit and the disasters which are a consequence of following processes of concentration of power.
The alternative vision that we propose is controversial within our national society and deals with the values upon which it should be founded. To choose the position we shall adopt on the Malvinas question as a problem to be solved respecting constitutional principles and international obligations regarding human rights or as an irredentist and absolute cause on which to sacrifice them is to choose the country we wish for, the Argentina of the future. An Argentina closed and absorbed in victimisation and in its own reasoning or an Argentina open to the world and capable of articulating its interests and aspirations with those of all human beings, starting with its neighbours. The painful tragedy, provoked in 1982 by an unscrupulous dictatorship and exalted even today by a retrograde nationalism, calls upon our responsibility and that of all Argentines.
Emilio de Ípola, Pepe Eliaschev, Rafael Filippelli, Roberto Gargarella, Fernando Iglesias, Santiago Kovadloff, Jorge Lanata, Gustavo Noriega, Marcos Novaro, José Miguel Onaindia, Vicente Palermo, Eduardo Antín (Quintín), Luis Alberto Romero, Daniel Sabsay, Beatriz Sarlo, Juan José Sebreli, Graciela Fernández Meijide, Jorge E. Torlasco, Marcos Aguinis, Carlos D. Malamud, José Emilio Burucúa, Liliana De Riz, Pablo Avelluto, Susana Belmartino, Rogelio Alaniz, Cristina Piña, Sylvina Walger, Federico Monjeau, Marcela Ternavasio, Luis Príamo, Patricio Coll, Ricardo López Göttig, Hugo Caligaris, Raúl Mandrini, Rodrigo Moreno, Emilio Perina, Héctor Ciapuscio, Hugo Vezzetti, Juan Villegas, Anahí Ballent, Edgardo Dobry, Marylin Contardi, Osvaldo Guariglia, Raúl Beceyro, Emilio Gibaja, Jorge Goldenberg, Rubén Perina.
Note The statement was translated by Alan Tabbush, with minimal editing by Peter Willetts. The political rhetoric of the original Spanish text does not always translate directly into understandable English. At a few points, slight deviations from a literal translation have been made, for example translating una justicia as a logic, in order to convey the intended meaning more smoothly.
Copyright: South Atlantic Council, 2012.
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