The Embassy of Argentina in the UK celebrated Independence Day on Thursday, highlighting the importance of national sovereignty and Latin American unity. Before a packed audience of over four hundred people, the Argentine Ambassador Alicia Castro delivered a speech in which she recalled that the aim of the struggle for independence was to unite all the peoples of Latin America.
“Today Latin American and Caribbean countries can celebrate together - as our President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner likes to say - a ”second independence”; in the past 10 years we have achieved unprecedented levels of regional unity and integration, based on political sovereignty, economic independence and social justice”, Castro stated to members of the House of Lords – including Lord Falkland - MPs, diplomats, journalists, academics, students, trade union leaders, business people and members of the Argentine and British community.
Speaking about bilateral relations between Argentina and the UK, the Ambassador highlighted the particular importance of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Welsh settlers to Argentina.
“We hope that this year, which marks the 150th anniversary of the Welsh settlement, will also be a year in which Argentina and the United Kingdom resume friendly and meaningful dialogue”, the Ambassador concluded.
Lord Dafydd Wigley, a historic Welsh political figure, member of the House of Lords and chairman of the celebrations organising committee for the 150th anniversary, joined the Argentine festivities and delivered a moving speech, echoing the Ambassador’s sentiments.
“The history of the Welsh community in Patagonia is a fine example of integration and harmony with the Argentine state. It is a triumph for the government of Chubut province, and the Welsh and Argentine governments. It is a story of cooperation, fraternity and solidarity”, the Lord stated.
“We hope this year’s celebrations will serve to bring the UK and Argentina even closer together. Should this happen, it would be very well received by the Welsh community on both sides of the Atlantic”, the British politician declared.
Following her speech, the Argentine Ambassador awarded two British personalities with special honours in recognition for their support, friendship and solidarity towards Argentina: Richard Gott and John Wilson. Richard Gott is a British historian, writer and journalist with extensive experience in Latin American and global politics. Most of his long career as a journalist has been at The Guardian, for which he came to be editor. He wrote, among other subjects, extensively about the life and work of Che Guevara, whom he knew personally.
Gott is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars on the Malvinas Question, where he defends the Argentine position and is a critic of the 'British colonialism'. He is currently the Coordinator for the UK-based Malvinas Pro-Dialogue Group.
Upon receiving the distinction from Alicia Castro, he said: “I have spent more than half a century in Argentina and South America, where I met key figures who shaped the continent, like Che Guevara, Salvador Allende and Hugo Chávez. Today, the region is going through a process of transformation that we must support, in part by seeking dialogue over the Malvinas”, Gott stated, before expressing his gratitude for the award: “Never have I felt so honoured as today”.
John Wilson was a board member and chairman of the Anglo-Argentine Society, founded in London in 1948. The organisation’s main aims are to promote cultural exchange between the countries and to help build strong social ties between the two communities.
“Ambassador, I would particularly like to thank you for laying the foundation for dialogue which you did at the outset of your tenure as the Argentine Ambassador to the UK. Since your arrival, you have worked extremely hard and tirelessly at trying to achieve the aim of dialogue. My passion for Argentina is well-known and I will continue to work tirelessly to bring about a meaningful dialogue and strengthen social and cultural ties between Argentina and the UK”.
The Argentine embassy concludes saying that all speeches were warmly received by those in attendance who had the opportunity to enjoy Argentine food and wine throughout the evening at the Official residence