Tension high 30 years after Falklands war

Tension high 30 years after Falklands war

Tension high 30 years after Falklands war

People gather at the Malvinas Monument during a ceremony in Ushuaia. REUTERS photo

Britain and Argentina yesterday marked 30 years since the invasion of the Falkland Islands triggered a 74-day war, with diplomatic tensions still running high.

In a statement to mark the anniversary, British Prime Minister David Cameron described the invasion as a “profound wrong” and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to upholding the right of Falkland islanders to determine their own future. “Thirty years ago today the people of the Falkland Islands suffered an act of aggression that sought to rob them of their freedom and their way of life,” Cameron said.

The brief but bloody war ended in defeat for Argentina, costing the lives of 649 of its troops, after Britain sent a task force to the islands to reclaim the territory which it has ruled since 1833. Britain lost 255 servicemen in the hostilities and three local Falkland islanders also died. The discovery of oil off the Falklands has raised the stakes, leading Argentina to threaten to sue companies involved in oil exploration and to protest to the United Nations over British “militarization” of the South Atlantic.

On April 1, the Sunday Telegraph said Argentina had threatened legal action against British and U.S. banks that gave advice to or even wrote research reports about companies involved in the Falklands oil sector. Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, who has denounced British rule of the islands as an “anachronism,” will unveil a monument and eternal flame to the country’s dead servicemen in the southern city of Ushuaia, where Kirchner will deliver a speech there to veterans of the conflict. In Britain, there will be a remembrance ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, eastern England, where a “Falklands flame” will be lit for 74 days. The Falklands -- population around 3,000 -- are located some 400 nautical miles from Argentina, which calls the islands the Malvinas.

Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.