Argentine president to UK PM: Give peace a chance

February 7, 2012 - 8:55 PM
APTOPIX Argentina Britain Falklands

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez stands in of front of a Falklands Islands' map at Government Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tuesday Feb. 7, 2012. Fernandez says she will formally complain to the U.N. Security Council about Britain sending one of its most modern warships to the Falkland Islands and accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of militarizing their long dispute over the islands in the South Atlantic, in her national address Tuesday. (AP Photo/Eduardo Di Baia)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — President Cristina Fernandez said Tuesday that Argentina will formally complain to the U.N. Security Council that Britain has created a serious security risk by sending one of its most modern warships to the disputed Falkland Islands.

She accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of militarizing their nations' dispute over sovereignty of the South Atlantic archipelago, which Argentines say the British stole from them nearly 180 years ago.

Argentines are united in their desire to win back the islands they call the Malvinas through diplomacy and negotiation, she said, urging Cameron to "give peace a chance."

"We have suffered too much violence already to be attracted to military games and wars," Fernandez said in a nationally broadcast address. "No land should end up being a trophy of war."

Britain says it originally discovered and owned the islands a century before Argentina existed. The Spanish crown claimed them for years, and then an independent Argentina held them before Britain seized them in 1833, driving off the gauchos and bringing colonists down from Britain.

Seven generations of "kelpers" have made their homes on the remote, wind-swept islands ever since, growing to a population of 3,100 people determined to remain a British dependency.

London's tabloids and British leaders have spent weeks depicting Argentina as dangerous and belligerent 30 years after its 1976-83 dictatorship launched a brief war that killed 649 Argentines and 257 Britons. Britain routed the ill-prepared South Americans, humiliating the junta and hastening Argentina's return to democracy.

In the lead-up to Argentina's invasion on April 2, 1982, large crowds turned out in favor of the military, heeding calls to donate their family jewelry for the war effort. Fernandez said the junta and its media allies were to blame for drumming up this groundswell of support, and insisted that most Argentines never wanted war.

Fernandez decreed Tuesday night that a long-secret analysis of the junta's failures be made public in 30 days, and said it will prove the junta was to blame.

"We continue to assert that you can't blame the Argentine people for a dictatorship's decision, in order to refuse to comply with what the United Nations has ordered, to sit down and negotiate and talk," she said.

A call seeking comment from Britain's Foreign Office was not returned late Tuesday, but British leaders have said there is nothing to negotiate. London insists it won't discuss sovereignty over the islands without the support of the islanders.

Other than the planned complaint at the United Nations, Fernandez's speech revealed no new international measures, but she did announce that a mental health center would be opened to care for Malvinas veterans. She said 439 have committed suicide for lack of psychological and economic support.

Falklanders were relieved she didn't close Argentine airspace to the weekly LAN Chile flight, their only commercial air link to the outside world.

In the end, some were unimpressed by her speech.

"Ok so what i got was deserved hospital for veterans and great big publicity stunt for CFK blah blah," tweeted Lisa Watson, managing editor of the islands' Penguin News.