Argentina slams Cameron on Falklands

2012-01-26 08:48

Buenos Aires - Just back to work after a medical leave, President Cristina Kirchner on Wednesday accused British Prime Minister David Cameron of portraying Argentina as "violent" in the Falkland Islands dispute.

Kirchner, dressed in black and a small surgery scar visible on her throat, plunged back into one of her country's most sensitive and longest-running disputes: Over the South Atlantic islands Britain has held since 1833, and Buenos Aires considers its own.

"They are trying to paint us as bad guys, or violent guys and really, that is not who we are," Kirchner told a packed auditorium in a lengthy speech after 20 days of medical leave for thyroid surgery.

Cameron had accused Argentina of a "colonialist" attitude, a comment which enraged many in Argentina.

Protesters marched on the British embassy in Buenos Aires on Friday, burning the Union Jack, and demanding Argentina snap diplomatic ties with London.

"The United Nations Committee on Decolonisation has 16 cases open on places that remain colonies, of which 10 are British colonies, and one of the best known is our beloved Malvinas islands," Kirchner stressed.

Not an invader

She said she would keep using diplomacy to try to bring back the islands under the control of Buenos Aires.

"We are not part of any country's invading strike force," Kirchner said in a swipe at Britain's international military role.

"Our armed forces only take part in peacekeeping missions. And that is a political decision of democratic governments since 1983."

Renewed tensions come months before the 30th anniversary of the brief, but bloody, war between the two countries over the islands.

The 74-day war for control of the Falklands started on April 2 1982 and killed 649 Argentines and 255 British. It also forced Argentina to withdraw from the islands in the south Atlantic Ocean.

Cameron has also convened Britain's National Security Council to ensure military defences are ready to defend the Falklands.

Call for negotiations

Tension between Buenos Aires and London has intensified since 2010, when London authorised oil prospecting around the islands - population around 3 000 - which are located about 400 nautical miles from Argentina.

The US State Department meanwhile has called for negotiations between Argentina and Britain to resolve the dispute.

Kirchner, aged 58, underwent surgery to remove her thyroid gland after a cancer diagnosis, which later tests showed was inaccurate.

The president underwent surgery less than a month after her inauguration on December 10. She won re-election to a second term during the October election with more than 54% of the vote.

During Kirchner's medical leave, Vice President Amado Boudou officially assumed her executive duties.

Questions raised by the newspaper Clarin and other opposition media about her diagnosis and operation had prompted Fernandez to release her medical records, reinforcing what her doctors and outside experts said: She is among the 2% of patients who have their thyroids removed only to discover they never had cancer, reported AP.

Politics before style

"I was going to come with a handkerchief because it doesn't look very aesthetic," she said, referring to the deep horizontal crease just above her collarbone that appears to have healed nicely during her 20-day medical leave.

"But I thought, if I cover it up with a handkerchief, tomorrow Clarin will say, 'This woman wasn't operated on,'" she joked. "You all know that aesthetics are very important to me, but I told myself, 'Sweetie, politics before style.'"

Fernandez's last public appearance had been Dec. 28, the day after her office announced the cancer diagnosis. Doctors removed the entire gland on January 4 after discovering several more lumps during surgery. Tests then showed the growths were benign.

Kirchner is Argentina's first elected female president. She succeeded her husband, Nestor Kirchner, who died of a heart attack in October 2010.


  • Dakey - 2012-01-26 09:25

    I love how the UK and Cameron claims that as long as the 'people' of the Falklands want to be British, he will protect them. Ha, only British citizens are allowed to live on the Falklands which have a population you could fit in half a rugby field (1m by 1m)! It is six times the geographic size of Mauritius (which incidentally has a population over a million! The Falklands wasn’t even originally colonised by the British, but rather by the French. Time for the Brits to give up what they stole and plundered the last 500 years and invest in a better football team.

      Godfrey - 2012-01-26 11:26

      Even if you are right about the French, how does it add any legitimacy to the Argentinian claim? The population live in a democracy and they overwhelmingly do not want to be part of Argentina with whom they share no cultural or language ties. The Agies have no valid claim.

  • Teri - 2012-01-26 09:27

    Shocking behavior from the british. What right have they got to an island off argentina coast.

      Godfrey - 2012-01-26 11:27

      Same rights as France has to the British Isles and the Channel Isles - which are even closer.

  • Hotkop - 2012-01-26 09:43

    Argentina is just pissed of because they got their asses kicked in 1982. What is so important on that island that they want it so badly??

      Godfrey - 2012-01-26 11:28

      The possibility of finding oil there. No oil no interest.

  • Cuba - 2012-01-26 10:55

    While it's always fun to watch Argentina and Britain compare penis sizes, what do the people of the Falklands have to say about this? They are the ones living there, so they should be able to determine their own future without interference from either Argentina or Britain. Who knows, maybe the Falklanders want to join Australia?

      Godfrey - 2012-01-26 11:29

      Good point.

  • Hallo - 2012-01-26 12:13

    Argentina should re-take the Malvinas

  • Derek - 2012-01-26 13:48

    And what exactly are Argentina going to bring to their "Beloved Malvinas"? There is certainly not queues of people wishing to move there, ask how many conscripts in 1982 wondered what the hell they were bothering for? I imagine all that would happen is it will drive out the majority of people who live there and the whole island infrastructure will collapse back to what it was 200 years ago

  • Derek - 2012-01-26 13:53

    And exactly what do Argentina propose to bring to the island, lots of expenditure to improve the place? There are certainly not queues of Argentinians wanting to move there, all that will happen is you will drive out those who have lived there all their life and worked at developing the islands, everything will fall into rack and ruin and the "beloved malvinas" will be back to what they were 200 years ago. I suppose at least Argentina can then look smugly over a wasteland where no one wants to live

  • Other - 2012-01-26 16:59

    I don't understand this, just because the islands are off the coast of Argentina, they are Argentinian? That is like saying, that Madagascar should belong to Mozambique, or that Shri Lanka should belong to India. The people of the Falklands want to belong to Briton, that is their democratic right is it not? If the majority of South Africans wanted South Africa to become a part of Botswana, then it is our right to do so, not so?

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