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The Malvinas War and the Dirty War

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    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2002

      April 2
      By Frontlines Correspondents

      Today, Argentina commemorates the 20th Anniversary of war with Britain
      over the Malvinas Islands. Unleashed by a provocation by British Royal
      Navy that pushed out a number of Argentinean workers and trampled over
      the Argentinean flag they had at their compound in the Georgias'
      Islands, the war took the lives of over 1,000 soldiers from both sides.
      Thousands were wounded, the military Junta governing Argentina was
      thrown out of power and Margaret Thatcher, and then British PM, saved
      her government - in the midst of a crisis - during the chauvinistic wave
      that shook Britain.

      Constantino Davidoff, an Argentinean entrepreneur that is suspected of
      working for the British intelligence, struck a deal with British
      authorities to remove tons of scrap metal from the Georgias' Islands.
      After the British Royal Navy declined to rent him a ship, he obtained
      the collaboration of the Argentinean Navy to transport the scrap metal
      from Georgias to continental Argentina.

      After a number of incidents involving Davidoff's workers and British
      soldiers, the Argentina military government - who saw the conflict as an
      easy one and characterized that the US will stay out of the fray -
      disembarked commandos, in the Georgias and Malvinas Islands and took
      over the installations there. The Argentinean dictatorship headed by
      General Galtieri also saw the conflict as a way to distract the
      attention of the Argentinean mass movement that was starting to resist
      the military government. Few days before the invasion, a first powerful
      demonstration of workers occurred in the streets of Buenos Aires.

      Britain defeated Argentina after more than two months of military
      conflict. Thousands of Argentinean soldiers were captured. In spite the
      fact that Britain counted with the full support of the US and Chilean's
      military dictatorship of General Pinochet, there were two instances in
      which the Argentinean had the upper hand. The first was when they took
      over the Islands capturing most of the British military and the governor
      of the Islands. The second, during the war, when Argentineans almost
      succeeded in their attempts to sink the core of the British Armada.

      The war helped develop the mass movement in Argentina and a powerful
      anti-imperialist movement also developed in Latin America which stills
      persists in most of the continent. Massive demonstrations took place
      daily against the British both in Argentina and most Latin American

      The Argentinean working class and youth did not have any confidence in
      the military Junta and their demands for an anti-imperialist strategy
      were coupled with fierce criticisms of the military's handling of the

      The Argentinean military, surprised by the military mobilization of
      Britain (which they did not expect) and the full support they received
      from the US - contrary to the opinion of Argentinean generals and signed
      treaties between the US and Latin American countries notwithstanding -
      was overwhelmed by the military might of British imperialism, but also
      by the incompetence and cowardice of the officers on the ground.

      There are many chronicles of Argentinean soldiers and non-commissioner
      officers pointing guns against officers who wanted to retreat.

      British and the US imperialism falsely accused Argentina of trampling on
      the rights of "self-determination" of the Malvinas "people", a claim
      that still maintain today, when most of the 2,000 British there are
      directly or indirectly employed by a British corporation that
      practically owns the Islands. In fact, Britain took over the Malvinas
      Islands in the mid-1800s murdering the local Argentinean population.
      The British endured guerrilla warfare for years organized by "Gaucho
      Rivero", an anti-imperialist guerrilla fighter that was eventually
      captured and transported to die in a British prison.

      This and the assertion that the war was a war between European
      "democracy" and Third World tyranny confused many leftists in Europe
      that bought the line of "self-determination" and "democracy" from
      Margaret Thatcher. In Latin America nobody was fooled. While
      criticizing fiercely the military government, the mass movement in a
      dozen countries resolutely opposed British and US imperialism on the

      The anti-British and anti-imperialist sentiments run high in Argentina
      historically. Britain invaded Buenos Aires twice (1806 and 1807) and
      were smashed by popular uprisings. But, starting in the 1830s and until
      after the Second World War, Britain dominated so much Argentinean
      economy that a British Minister considered it "part and parcel of the
      British Empire." Britain was replaced as the dominant imperialist power
      in Argentina by the US in the postwar period.

      The Argentinean military government was overthrown shortly after the end
      of the war and elections were held the following year. During the war,
      the Argentinean mass movement gained the confidence and strength to take
      on the military which was until then feared for its bloody "Dirty War"
      (1976-1982) waged against labor unions and the left that resulted in the
      murdering of over 30,000 people.

      The cowardice of the government that refused to heed to the demands of
      the mass movement to move against British and American economic
      interests in Argentina as part of an effective war effort and the
      cowardice of the military officers in the battleground marked the end,
      and the almost complete present decadence, of the Argentinean armed
      forces. It also developed the mass movement independently of the
      government that finally buried it.

      The return of thousands of rank and file soldiers from the Islands
      resulted in many uprisings and protests in military barracks and a
      complete loss of control of the government over the population. A vast
      movement for the punishment of the military officers involved in the
      "Dirty war" developed after the war.

      Demonstrations and commemorations are scheduled to take place throughout
      the country today.


      By Frontlines Correspondents

      Over 30,000 people demonstrated last March 24 in Plaza de Mayo and in
      front of the National Congress with thousands more in each major city
      across Argentina. "Never Again!" and "All Must Go!" were the most
      popular slogans of the demonstrations held to commemorate the end of the
      military dictatorship (1976-82) and its "Dirty War" that resulted in the
      killing of over 30,000 labor and left activists and the imprisonment and
      "disappearance" of tens of thousands more.

      Organized by civil rights, left organizations and some unions, the
      massive demonstrations were a powerful reminder that the Armed Forces
      will not be accepted as an alternative to the mainstream ruling class
      parties now in crisis. The fact that demonstrators fused the protest
      against the murderous military with slogans against the present civilian
      government is a clear indication of the awareness that the mass movement
      will not allow quietly a repetition of the past.

      Since December 19-20, 2001, five governments were forced out of power by
      massive demonstrations triggered by 42 months of economic recession and
      the lingering effects of economic, social and political crisis that many
      believe started with the rule of the military in the mid and late 70s.
      In the past, such movements were met with military forces and tanks on
      the streets. This time around, that work was left to the police and the
      border patrol since the military still cannot openly intervene on behalf
      of the ruling class because its defeat in the early 80s.

      An interesting debate took place during the celebrations, with the Madre
      of Plaza de Mayo and other left organizations, refusing to accept in the
      demonstration, members of the government or the mainstream political
      parties. Finally, two demonstrations took place simultaneously because
      these differences. But government officials were not slated to speak at
      any one of the rallies and while some of the mainstream parties
      participated in the event, they kept a low profile to avoid angering the
      crowd, obviously anti-government.
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