Malvinas: the real solution lies ahead

April 2 will always cause very deep feelings. Honor to the courage of all the combatants and painful remembrance for the young women killed in a confrontation with minimal possibilities, despite our clearly superior rights.

Today let us also remember an enormous diplomatic achievement, little evoked, which occurred only five months after our surrenderwhich prevented the United Kingdom from achieving the declaration of an end to the sovereignty dispute and the definitive consecration of self-determination in the islands. A maneuver of great lucidity, carried out not so much by an Argentine government, literally out of action, but by the body of professional diplomats led by a prominent foreign minister from politics, Juan Ramón Aguirre Lanari, and a great professional diplomat like Carlos Muñiz.

London was preparing a lethal UN declaration for our rights. But, weak as we were, the Palacio San Martín devised a brilliantly sensible counter-maneuver: a resolution that kept the sovereignty dispute exactly the same as it existed before the war.

History teaches that every country that loses on the battlefield, the first thing it tries to do is rebuild the situation prior to the conflict, in order to start all over again. What did Argentine diplomacy do then? Instead of a solitary proposal, merely demanding, with little echo, managed to get it endorsed by no less than nineteen countries in the Americas. The rest were Canada, the United States, and the American members of the British Commonwealth. Militarily defeated, we could show that politically we were still strong and willing to fight for the right. Let London manage to put up a comparable bloc!

UN Headquarters in New York

As a spectacular result, the UN Assembly issued resolution 37/9 of November 1982, declaring that the historic resolution 2065/65 remained in full force, that self-determination did not apply to the Malvinas, that interests should be taken into account but not the wishes of the islanders and that the controversy, far from having been exhausted, was still fully in force. With this, the Foreign Office could not advance a single square taking advantage of the victory by arms. We got 90 votes in favour, with 52 very significant abstentions and only 12 against, basically the United Kingdom and only some members of its aforementioned Community. Apart from the barrage of favorable votes, take into account that the 52 abstentions – a large part of them European – actually served as a silent but palpable sign of a good return. And with such a victory, our diplomacy, in a very difficult situation, managed to prevent our rights from being harmed, having defeated our weapons.

In our opinion, that resolution 37/9 we Argentines must rescue it from the background and, in these forty years and in the next memories, exalt it as a triumph rarely seen in the United Nations. A success for Argentina and the principles that gave us a proud identity in the world. Those same ones that we appear today defending so lukewarmly against the barbarism in Ukraine.

The background to such a gambit allows us to know that at least two groups of diplomats traveled: to Europe, requesting express support, but to negotiate at least possible abstentions, and, in America, the open accompaniment in the presentation and support in the vote. A select team of jurists were in Rome, doomed to papal mediation, so they could contribute little, so efforts multiplied. And in America, the accompaniment precisely of Chile, with a Pinochet very opposed to Argentina, had to be resolved directly by Aguirre Lanari who, in his memoirs, recounts: “The (foreign minister) of Chile refused until the last moment and I told him: ‘ If you don’t want to sign, don’t do it, I’ll present it anyway’. So, he signed it.”

The brilliance of the maneuver allowed not only to overwhelmingly defeat London in the vote, but also to get the United States, until then eternally voting in abstention, for the first time to vote in favor of Argentina in the Malvinas (although this meant coinciding with the No! Aligned!), a change in attitude that later settled in the OAS.

Thatcher, greatly upset, bitterly rebuked President Reagan, and his ambassador issued vociferous complaints to Secretary of State George Shultz. But what Washington was doing was putting London back on the court: “Until the war in the Malvinas we accompanied you because it was an Argentine violation of the UN Charter, but America is a space of strategic interest for the Americans and you no longer play in that territory”.

In Europe, the vacuum was similar: only Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Fiji, Gambia, Solomon Islands, Malawi, New Zealand, Oman, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka voted for the British position. No European. All the others abstained. Clear message: “In war, with you; in peace, you have to sit down and negotiate”. Victory gives no rights, the West’s slap in the face of Britain’s three-century history of imperial violence.

meanwhile, memorable boutade of the Foreign Office, which, in response to an exhortation from the then Pope to dialogue, replied that “he considers the question of the Falklands Islands as bilateral between nations and that (the Pope) does not have a role to play (in the dispute)…” . Remarkable contradiction for a foreign ministry that is constantly asking to consider the islanders as a third party.

In addition to the North American castling, some other favorable milestones stood out on that historic occasion. With Chile, for example, a process of understanding began, which a few years later ended with the solution of all the Andean limits and with Santiago standing up in the United Nations Decolonization Committee to claim as an official lawyer for human rights. Argentines in the Falklands. And with the brothers of the region and the closest neighbors we stopped considering ourselves a hypothesis of conflict, initiating an exercise of rapprochement that generated Mercosur and the time of best coexistence in all of our history.

The example of resolution 37/9 should call us to reflection. If we don’t change, we will continue with the foreign policy of permanent frustration, the one claimed today by the Kirchners: perennial moral champions, we seek to stay with reason and others stay with the islands, or the pastures, and so on forever. All-or-nothing attitudes never produced any change, only the prolongation of the status quo and missed opportunities.

Losing on April 2 and winning with 37/9 were two battles that were by no means definitive. Sovereignty will be resolved when Argentina returns to being a respected country with international alliances whose weight cannot be ignored. The legal discussion is not yet now, but it is time to live together and work generating before the world the profile of the country that we should never have lost.H.H

Former Vice President of the Nation candidate (2019) and former Vice Chancellor (1996/99), respectively

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Malvinas: the real solution lies ahead


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