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Death of Thatcher stirs up wartime memories in Argentina

April 08, 2013|By Emily Alpert
  • A woman in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, places flowers to honor the memory of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
A woman in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, places flowers to honor the memory… (Tony Chater / AFP/Getty…)

Argentine veterans of the bitter war over the Falkland Islands said Monday that they had no sorrow over the death of Margaret Thatcher, who launched British forces to recapture the South Atlantic islands more than three decades ago.

“She won’t be remembered as someone who has contributed anything to peace,” Mario Volpe, president of the Center for Malvinas Veterans, told  Agence France-Presse. The islands are known by Argentines as the Malvinas.

Volpe lamented Thatcher's wartime order to sink an Argentine cruiser, a decision that proved highly controversial in Argentina as well as Britain.

Another veteran, Ernesto Alberto Alonso, told the Telegraph that Thatcher had “caused great harm” in Britain and abroad. “She will be remembered as a leader who brought nothing positive to humanity,” Alonso told the British newspaper Monday.

In 1982, Thatcher sent military forces to reclaim the British territory shortly after an invasion by nearby Argentina, which had long claimed the islands. Hundreds of Britons and Argentines died in the brief conflict before the Argentine forces were ejected. Islanders praised Thatcher as a hero.

“Her friendship and support will be sorely missed, and we will always be thankful for all that she did for us,” Mike Summers wrote Monday on behalf of the Falkland Islands legislative assembly.

Many Argentines, however, see the islands as belonging to their nation and the British presence as a vestige of colonialism. The Argentine government has continued to press its claim despite islanders’ support for remaining a British territory. As of Monday afternoon, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had not commented on Thatcher's death, as other world leaders offered tributes to the former prime minister.

The news of Thatcher's passing was among the most read articles on Argentine news websites Monday, drawing hundreds of comments. Many Argentines had little good to say about her legacy.

"I hope God can forgive her because I can't," Jose Raschella, 48, told Reuters in Buenos Aires. He added, "The pain that she left our country can't be erased; we'll never forget all that pain."

Yet others saw something to admire in the "Iron Lady," as Thatcher was called. “I hope Argentina can someday have a chief of state with the [guts] and patriotism of this old lady, instead of the thieves we always vote in!” one reader from Rio Negro province commented on the Clarin website.

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