Argentine President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner on Tuesday slammed Britain for its “militarization” of their conflict over the Falklands, saying she would lodge a formal complaint with the UN.
“We will present a complaint to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, as this militarization poses a grave danger to international security,” Fernandez told a group of politicians and Falklands war veterans.
The two sides have ramped up the rhetoric in the run-up to the 30th anniversary of the war, which broke out on April 2, 1982, when the ruling junta in Buenos Aires invaded the disputed islands in a bid to end British rule.
Britain has held the islands, home to about 3,000 inhabitants, since 1833.
Argentine officials have been seething in recent weeks, -denouncing the deployment of a British warship and the dispatch of Prince William, second in line to the throne, for a tour of duty as a helicopter pilot.
Buenos Aires has also reacted sharply to a report that Britain had moved a nuclear submarine to the region, even though British officials have not confirmed the report in the Daily Mail newspaper.
Britain “is once again in the process of militarizing the south Atlantic,” Fernandez said in the speech before an audience that included diplomats and opposition leaders, a map of the islands behind her. “We cannot interpret in any other way the deployment of an ultra-modern destroyer accompanying the heir to the throne, whom we would prefer to see in civilian attire.”
She said the Falklands were no longer “the cause of only the people of Argentina, but the cause of all Latin Americans — and a worldwide cause.”
London retained control and has vowed to defend the islands as long as the inhabitants want to be part of Britain.
In related news, nobody ever thought the General Belgrano would give Argentines reason to cheer, but that was because nobody, until now, thought to name the nation’s soccer league after the sunken ship.
The Argentine government plans to name the first division, which kicks off tomorrow, in honor of the navy cruiser sunk by Britain during the Falklands war in 1982 with the loss of 323 Argentine lives.
Military defeat, trauma and humiliation: not typical ingredients for sports sponsorship, but amid a fast-escalating diplomatic row between London and Buenos Aires, these are anything but normal days.
Kirchner, has mobilized much of Latin America behind Argentina’s diplomatic and commercial squeeze on “las Malvinas,” its name for the disputed islands, in the runup to the war’s 30th anniversary.
Its latest gambit would turn Argentina’s vocal, ultra-passionate soccer following into an enduring source of resentment and nationalism. Viewers of England’s Premier League, meanwhile, will be reminded of Budweiser beer, this season’s official sponsor.
The executive committee of the Argentine Football Association (AFA), which relies on state funding, was to discuss the proposal on Tuesday night. Argentina’s government owns the rights to first division matches and shows the games on free-to-air television. It regularly uses advertising opportunities for political promotion.
If the AFA approves the government plan, hoardings are expected to show “Crucero General Belgrano” — Cruiser General Belgrano — at Friday’s opening game between the reigning champions, Boca Juniors, and Olimpo.
The prospect divided Argentines, with blogs hosting debates between those who felt it would honor fallen heroes and those who sensed political opportunism and jingoism.
The British nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror sank the cruiser with three torpedoes on May 2, 1982. It was outside the British-declared exclusion zone, but then-British prime minister Margaret Thatcher ruled that it was a threat and approved the attack.
The loss of life and firepower shocked Argentina’s ruling military junta. The Sun’s famous headline, “Gotcha,” aggravated the nation’s anger and grief.
Argentine media reported on Tuesday that the government also wished to name the first division cup “Gaucho Rivero” after Antonio Rivero, a cattle herder who lived on the islands and is credited by some Argentines with “rising up” against British rule in 1833.
Rivero led a group of Argentine laborers and creole Indians that killed five prominent British settlers, becoming a folk hero. Some historians said the rebellion was a dispute over pay and conditions, not politics, and that Rivero was a common murderer.