Over 300 relatives from Argentines combatants killed in 1982 during the Falkland Islands conflict are preparing for the trip for the official inauguration of the Memorial at the Argentine cemetery in Darwin, according to Cesar Trejo member of the Malvinas Families Commission.
Trejo anticipated that the coming visits next October 3 and 10 will be “most emotive for all of us” since it will the culmination of a long process which “demanded much effort” since 1998 when the idea was first set to run and “we begun collecting money for the cenotaph”.
Trejo revealed that the original idea “of honouring our dead heroes at the same place where most of them are buried was first presented to then Foreign Affairs minister Guido Di Tella”, and to “our great surprise on January 1999 we received a positive reply from the UK representative in Buenos Aires”.
The cenotaph was included in the July 14, 1999 agreement between Britain, Argentina and the Falkland Islands government, which among other things re-established the air link between the Islands and the continent.
The announcement was made during a press conference over the week end in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego next to officials from the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representatives from the provincial and municipal governments.
“The homage represents a historic acknowledgement which has the absolute commitment from the national government”, said Sandra Dosh from Foreign Affairs and the White Helmets, an Argentine peace corps.
Trejo said that a delegation from the Malvinas Families was recently back from the Falklands where they were treated by British and Falklands officials with the utmost respect and caring, trying to solve all possible problems that could arise.
The Darwin cemetery holds the remains of 237 Argentine combatants, but the cenotaph is dedicated to the 649 killed during the conflict with their names engraved in plaques with no indication of military rank or service, as requested by the Malvinas Families.
Trejo also confirmed that the ceremony includes placing an image of Argentina’s Saint Patron, Virgen del Lujan in a specially built hermite. A peregrination with the image has visited all Argentine provinces.
The South Atlantic conflict was triggered on April 2, 1982 when Argentine troops landed in the Falklands and took over the Islands. A British Task Force sent to recover them completed their job on June 14th 1982 with the complete surrender of Argentine forces. Loss of life included 649 Argentines, 255 British and three Islanders.
The Falklands defeat signalled the beginning of the end of the Argentine military dictatorship in power since 1976. By December 1983 a democratically elected president, Raul Alfonsin marked the return of the rule of the law to Argentina.
The Argentine cemetery with the cenotaph was declared last June by the Argentine government “national historic place”. The memorial was finished in 2004 and has been waiting since for its official opening.