The Malvinas Islands Museum in Argentina has incorporated a letter allegedly handwritten by Liberator General Jose de San Martin and dated August 1816, a month after Argentina formally declared independence (07/09/1816) in which he mentions having given instructions to liberate prisoners in Patagones (Patagonia) and Malvinas Islands so they can join the Andes army.
The document is one more of hundreds that Argentina has been surfacing to support its claim over the Falkland Islands, with particular emphasis under the current government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The announcement of the letter to be exhibited at the Malvinas Museum was made during a special ceremony by Minister of Culture Teresa Parodi who described it as an essential document to build on our sovereignty adding that this means the Liberator was aware of our Malvinas Islands, even before they were usurped by the British in 1833.
The letter was originally stored in the archives of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The letter is evidence that while becoming a free nation Argentina was exercising sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands. That is why it is so important to have the document here at the Museum in a living space dedicated to our claim over those territories indicated Jorge Giles, Director of the Museum.
Daniel Filmus, head of the Malvinas affairs desk in the Argentine foreign ministry said that the letter throws out the self determination argument from Britain to justify the possession of the Malvinas, since the population in the Islands was transplanted by an occupying power and is not original to the Islands.
Only recently to justify self-determination, the British organized a referendum and asked a group of British citizens if they wished to remain British, what a question! said Filmus. However Argentine democracy will continue to pursue its claim through diplomacy and other peaceful means such as negotiations and dialogue.
But, we must always remember the sacrifice of those men who gave their lives in the 1982 war to recover the Islands. A just cause defended by a genocide dictatorship which also bankrupted Argentina with a policy of indebtedness.
Further on Mario Volpe a Malvinas war veteran and deputy director of the museum gave some more background on Argentina's claim going back to the Spanish colony.
In 1667 Spain built a royal fortress in the Islands. On 20 May 1810, Cornelio Saavedra as president of the first Junta (25 May 1810) orders that a ship regularly links with the Malvinas Islands, and the letter from San Martín comes to confirm this, and obviously our rights, said Volpe.
The government official recalled that President Cristina Fernandez showed the letter to the UN Decolonization Committee as evidence that the Liberator of the peoples of the South was referring to the Malvinas Islands as a territory belonging to the United Provinces.
Another Malvinas veteran and currently journalist Edgardo Esteban underlined the significance of the Malvinas cause for the affirmation of Latin American integration. He added that in 1982 youth went to a war that marked their lives but nowadays we live in a country where we can demand and exercise our rights, express our ideas and recalling San Martin, 'let us be free, the rest follows'”.
During the ceremony, folklore groups made a display of local dances followed by the recitation of poems from Chile's Pablo Neruda and from Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges dedicated to San Martin.
Finally there was an unveiling of the pedestal in the museum where a copy of the letter linking San Martin with the Malvinas Islands will be exhibited followed by a brief parade of the Granaderos Regiment which played the Malvinas and San Lorenza marches.
The occasion for the Sunday ceremony was the 164th anniversary of the death in France of General Jose de San Martin. Born in Argentina, trained as military officer in Spain, he fought against Napoleon forces and on his return to South American joined the independence movement.
He is remembered mainly for the Andes army with which he crossed the mighty cordillera and helped liberate Chile, later Peru, and eventually Ecuador, where he met with the other great South American Liberator Simon Bolivar.
However on his return from the military campaign and fed up with Buenos Aires politics and intrigues he left for France.