3# Malvinas: The War That Shouldn’t Have Happened

After 35 years the argentinian society can’t process the reality of the war and drags prejudices and vices that work against the progress of the country


Argentine commando with captured british soldiers after the deployment. There was no british casualties that day.

Today, April 2 of 2017, we have another aniversary of the deployment of argentine forces on the Malvinas Islands (named Falklands by the british). 35 years of a conflict thought fair and at the same time happening for the worst of reasons that brought all kinds of consecuences that, to this day, affect the Argentine Republic and it’s society.

The war was started by the facto goverment of Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri. Some analysts suggest that there was a tacit consent from the United States goverment, that it was said that the United Kingdom would protest but wouldn’t respond. The original idea was forcing a negotiation with the british after ending the occupation that, for the argentine goverment, is illegal.

Due to the massive support that the argentine goverment got after the deployment, an operation without casualties for the british (by express order of the armed forces) and four argentine soldiers, the goverment gave up on the idea of negotiating and esentially declared war on London, war that in political terms was very useful for the british military and the goverment of Margaret Thatchet.

The war was brief and would end with the surrender of the argentine forces leaded by Mario Benjamin Menendez at Puerto Argentino (Port Stanley for the british). In spite of the bravery of the argentine forces with their material and logistic limits the war was poorly articulated and ended in a defeat. Argentina suffered aprox. 650 casualties and the United Kingdom 250, without counting the wounded. Post-war suicides would nearly double the number in both cases and some suspect that the british casualties were more than the ones declared, going as far as 3 o 4 times more. The british documents of the war are classified for 70 years.

From then on the Malvinas Islands would become a fortress with no less than 2000 soldiers living in a permanent military base with their own airport and Eurofighters Thyphoons for the aerial defense of the islands, without counting of the sea forces. For the british goverment at the time it was a political victory and allowed the rise of military spending. The inhabitants of the islands, that were in a sort of legal vacum enjoy now full british citizenship.

The Argentine Republic fell into international ostracism; argentine assets abroad were confiscated and the emotional effect of the defeat further weakened the Military Junta. What was once an issue with great chances of being resolved thru diplomatic means ended in a war that closed any will of negotiation from the United Kingdom.

The Malvinas War avoided a negotiated end of the military goverment, like the one that happened in Chile with Augusto Pinochet, and brought about a strong anti-military campaign from successive republican goverments. Local politicians, the victims of the military dictatorship in the Dirty War and the goverment of the United Kingdom made a slow and sustained campaign for the dismantling of the Argentine Armed Forces with two clear objectives:

  • Take away their relevance in domestic afairs and strength as political players in argentine public life with the idea of keeping them from bringing about new coups.
  • Avoid future military adventures, leaving the country on the verge of defenselessness.

The campaign was successful and there was no further military coups. With the exception of military rebellions in the goverments of Raul Alfonsin and Carlos Menem the military left public life. Because their crimes in the “Dirty War” are considered crimes against humanity and therefore imprescriptible the military in general tends to avoid the public arena to prevent judicial persecution.

At a cultural level repression, legal or not, became politically incorrect to the point of becoming in two different cases the immediate reason of the end and the early end of two legal goverments. De la Rúa is forced to resign after declaring state of emergency and sending riot police to end protests with dozens dying in the process. His replacement Eduardo Duhalde, in different circumstances, ends with two deads by the riot police, ordered to act by the goverment of the Buenos Aires Province. This shortens his interim goverment and forces him to end his campaign for a new presidency. To this day legal repression remains rare due to the fear of the political effects that these could have.

In the last decades and to this day Malvinas became a rethorical instrument to distract society on ocations from the pressing issues of the country. This resource is used both in Argentina and Great Britain. After 30 years of anti-military campaign the Argentine Armed Forces, at some point one of the most modern and powerful of the region, are hardly the equivalent of their neighbors. The current goverment ended the anti-british rethoric that was common in the last decade, but there are no hints of rearmament of the Armed Forces to take them, at least, to the capacity needed to achieve it’s aims.

With the exception of the last year’s parades, where attendance was unrestricted, the local war veterans are marginalized of the political arena. And because the last year’s experience placed controverted characters like the former military rebel Aldo Rico in the spotlight they are again doing limited acts around veterans.

Sources: Several news outlets and individual testimonies. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.

#2 Democracy Index 2016: High quality republican goverments remain marginal in the World – The Case of Argentina



The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index (2016) suggests that democratic regimes around the globe are losing ground to populist, anti-system political parties and candidates.

The main example of that year was the victory of the Independent-Turned-Republican Candidate Donald Trump in the year’s presidential run. The Brexit also was pointed out as an example of the “revenge of the deplorables” or people with little education and living below the poverty line or within the lower middle class, a class that feels perennially excluded from the plans of the ruling class. These classes went out of their way to vote in order to “punish” the ruling class for ignoring them.

The apendix of the report says that “there’s no consensus on how to measure democracy” and clarifies the methodology of the index. Participation is mainly reduced to how many people participate in elections provided it is not mandatory to do so.

Income inequality is regarded as an issue but not included in the methodology of how to measure democracy. High quality republican goverments would necessarily include a fair income equality or at the very least having a majoritarily prosperous society.

There’s no mention either to resistance movements in all cases. In other words if an authoritarian/hybrid/flawed/democratic(republican) regime has no significant resistance we can safely assume that while some people objects goverments and their policies there’s no general or real opossition to the status quo. In other words an authoritarian/hybrid/flawed/democratic regime can score low in many areas and still enjoy general social acceptance from the public within that country.

Nothing is said about Trump’s election being decided by electoral vote. In a very real way, Trump lost the election by no less than 2 million votes after joining the ranks of the Republican Party. As an independent candidate Trump’s election would have been good but not a victory. As this article is written Trump faces resistance from his own party as he tries to push a bill to replace Obamacare.

On the other side of the ocean Britain is regarded as a democracy while the british parliament continues to have members that are there due to nobility titles that are hereditary in nature, not to mention that Britain is a kingdom with a ruling queen.

There’s no mention to referendums in the methodology of this study, referendums being the main instrument behind truly democratic goverments. The only referendum that is discussed is the act of electing representatives, that is, the indirect way of republican goverment that is widespread around the globe.

South America & Argentina

The region is rightly characterized as one with flawed democracies with authoritarian tendencies. The case of Venezuela in particular is no longer the case of a democracy or republican goverment since the elected assembly’s initiatives, with 2/3 of their members being in the opposition of the goverment, are systematically blocked by the nearly two decades old regime. The president has announced in TV he won’t leave power regardless of the results of the election and went as far as saying that a civic-military goverment was going to be established if they lost, an openly illegal act. The dissolution of the Congress didn’t happen, it seems, because the ranks in the military are divided and a military coup could end in a civil war. So the agony of the bolivarian regime continues.

Temer became president in Brazil after the removal of the recently re-elected Rousseff over corruption charges. As Rousseff’s vice-president he intends to end his mandate while pushing reforms.

The authoritarian/populist experiments in the region, while losing ground, still enjoy a considerable amount of support from the general population. Argentina’s election in 2015 was close and while the opposition won in some of the main districts the Justicialist Party (PJ), the Front for Victory (FPV) and United for a New Alternative (UNA), three expressions of the peronist movement, remain a majority in Congress, though the factions are not working in unison at this point. Local analysts suggest that a united peronist presidential candidate will happen for the 2019 election and the main candidates will be decided after the legislative elections this year. It is not certain however since there are at least two distinct factions that would lose votes if they went together and the peronist parties tend to solve their internal struggles in the general elections. A three main candidates (one of PRO/Cambiemos and two peronist alternatives) with a a second-round having a peronist and the candidate from the goverment seems feasable, though it is very early to tell. This years elections will condition all future arrangements.

As a rule of thumb the fate of the new goverments in the region depend heavily in their economic performances. Unfortunately for the goverments of the region the commodities boom is not what it used to be and with exceptions the region will be faced with reforms and some degree of austerity. And since austerity in general doesn’t win elections reforms will be limited and debt (both external and internal) will tend to rise.

Argentina, in any case, is a flawed republican regime struggling to come out of the “populist hangover” as the Democracy Index said. And electoral season has been so toxic over the years, with political struggles stopping policies from being enacted, that many local referents are suggesting going back to a system with longer terms and less elections, as if that could fix the vices of the local system.

Sources: Democracy Index 2016 – The Economist Intelligence Unit and news outlets. Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.