Dozens were arrested and injured in downtown Buenos Aires when groups of former Argentine soldiers that fought during the Malvinas war clashed violently with the police demanding to be recognized as full veterans.
Incidents started late Monday evening and continued throughout the night until mid morning Tuesday when protestors temporarily lifted the demonstration. However a roadblock and protest reignited mid day and not long after things turned violent upon the arrival of the Federal Police.
The former soldiers were sent to Santa Cruz province and acted as support forces during the war, but were not actually deployed to the Falkland Islands.
Wearing military uniforms and waving Argentine flags, the men in maroon and green were demanding the national government recognize them as war veterans and be granted with same benefits (pensions, medical and psychological aid, among others) as those who were deployed to the Islands.
Police marched along the main 9 de Julio Avenue dressed in riot gear while parading water cannon riot trucks to try to clear the protest. The former soldiers hit back at the police by throwing stones and other articles back at police causing multiple injuries between the two groups.
Controversy surrounding the subject is high, as Malvinas war veterans are the first ones not to recognize their pairs as veterans by commonly arguing “they did not experience what being at the battle field is like,” and saying it would be an insult for them to see those who didn’t take on the battle field to be granted with same social benefits.
Protests are not new, as ‘mobilized soldiers’ have been camping at Plaza de Mayo –right in front of the Government House- for the past four years. In a huge improvised tent the former soldiers have been waiting for President Cristina Fernández to summon them as well to recognize them as war veterans.
Surprisingly, during last weekend the head of the ruling party’s bloc in the Lower House and former Agriculture Minister, Julián Domínguez, visited pro-government TV show 6-7-8 and remembered he was one of the thousands of troops mobilized to Chubut and Santa Cruz provinces to take on duties during the Malvinas war.
Domínguez praised the recent announcement made by the President Cristina Fernández for announcing the opening of a psychiatric hospital in Río Gallegos, Santa Cruz for war veterans, but then remembered that those “mobilized to the ‘South Atlantic Theatre of Operations’ are also war veterans that have suffered a lot including from mental disorders. Let’s not forget that more than 400 soldiers committed suicide ever since the war ended.”
Domínguez was member of the GA101 unit sent to Santa Cruz as a back up unit for those troops fighting in Port Stanley or Puerto Argentino as the Argentines called the capital during the 74-day occupation.
Similar groups of former soldiers beat up an Argentine lawmaker as he was leaving Government House following President Cristina Fernandez speech when she announced Argentina would make a formal complaint to the UN because of the UK ‘militarization’ of the Malvinas dispute and the South Atlantic.