Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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ARGENTINA | 02-04-2019 16:25

Argentine claim to Malvinas Islands 'irrevocable', says Macri

President Macri welcomes Malvinas war veterans and the relatives of fallen soldiers for a special anniversary event at the Olivos presidential palace.

Argentina's claim to the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands in the South Pacific is "legitimate and irrevocable," President Mauricio Macri said Tuesday, as he marked the 37th anniversary of the war against the United Kingdom over control of the islands.

Macri welcomed war veterans, their loved ones, and relatives of fallen soldiers to the Olivos presidential palace for a commemorative ceremony, where a plaque was unveiled.

"The claim to the sovereignty of the Malvinas islands is a legitimate and irrevocable claim, which unites all Argentines beyond our differences," the president said.

The president, who has forged an more moderate approach to Britain than his predecessors, said Argentina intended to push its claim by using "the tools of dialogue, confidence building and trust and respect for international law."

Macri laid a plaque in honour of the 649 fallen soldiers, the first of its kind at the Olivos residential palace, the Télam news agency reported.

Secretary for Human Rights Claudio Avruj said "this April 2 is a very important and emotional event, which adds to the valuable and significant work carried out by the humanitarian mission to identify our Malvinas heroes."

The International Committee of the Red Cross has intensified the remains of 112 of the 122 soldiers buried at Darwin Cemetery on the Malvinas.

Macri, Avruj and the attendees were joined by Defence Minister Oscar Aguad and the Armed Forces chiefs.

Hours later at San Martín Square an official public event was held, where relatives placed a commemorative plaque at the war memorial that read: "Argentine soldier known only to God." The plaque was taken from the Darwin war cemetery on the islands, which had been replaced by one with the name of the fallen soldier.

The gesture follows a mission by the International Committee of the Red Cross which exhumed the remains of 121 Argentine soldiers buried in unmarked graves. 

Using modern identification methods, 112 have so far been identified by an Argentine forensic team, and a planeload of relatives of the soldiers visited the graves for the first time in 2018 and again last month.

The government would continue trying to identify the remains of fallen soldiers on the Malvinas Islands, Macri told the crowd at Olivos, declaring "it is our responsibility, our desire and our right."

Dozens of ceremonies also took place across the country. Among the events in Argentina, a "Malvinas Vigil" was held in Río Grande, a strategic staging center for Argentine forces, 1,740 miles (2,800 kilometres) south of Buenos Aires and 360 miles west of the islands. Players in Argentina's Superliga held a minute's silence before their matches at the weekend.

April 2 is a national holiday in Argentina, known as the "Day of the Veterans and Fallen of the Malvinas War," or Malvinas Day. 

War broke out when Argentina's then-ruling military dictatorship sent troops to the South Atlantic archipelago, which has been occupied by Britain since 1833. 

The 74-day conflict claimed the lives of 649 Argentine troops and 255 British forces. It ended with Argentina's surrender on June 14, 1982.

Some 500 Argentine ex-combatants have committed suicide in the years since, according to a support group, the Malvinas Combatants Association for Human Rights.

- TIMES/PERFIL

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