Argentina’s Old Battle with the Brits–Rallying the Flag to Submerge Problems at Home

There is a new war of words between Argentina and Britain over a craggy archipelago of more than 700 islands in the South Atlantic.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has written an open letter to British prime minister David Cameron demanding the return of the Malvinas — Britain calls them the Falkland Islands. So doing, she tried to deflect the long-running British argument that the 2,840 inhabitants of the wind-swept islands have voted themselves for British sovereignty.

That, Kirchner implied, was the result of “a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule.”

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Cameron rejected Kirchner’s letter and the result has been back and forth headlines in Argentine and British newspapers.

Argentina feels strong patriotic ties to the islands (There are two major islands and 776 smaller outcroppings and a total surface area of 4,700 square miles –12,173 square kilometers-about the size of Connecticut.)

However, Argentine critics do not fail to question Kirchner’s motivation for stirring up the pot right now.

The last time this happened – in 1982 – Argentina’s murderous military dictatorship invaded the islands, Britain under Margaret Thatcher counterattacked and Argentina was trounced. More than 900 British and Argentina military were killed.

Why now?

Kirchner faces ongoing criticism about the style and substance of her governance and the economy is stagnant at best. Nothing like a patriotic subterfuge to distraction attention from other issues. Argentina is hardly alone in that regard.

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