Discussions between the UK and Argentina in 1980 referred to the Falkland Islands dispute have been reconstructed by an Argentine researcher bringing together recent documents from Britain's National Archives and the memoirs of two prominent members of the military government of the time in Buenos Aires, Finance minister Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz and the ambassador in the UK, Carlos Ortiz de Rozas.
Apparently Nicholas Ridley, a close aide of then prime minister Margaret Thatcher was the man involved in the approach and talks on the issue.
Carlos Manfroni, is a lawyer, researcher and historian, who has written several controversial books about events in the seventies and eighties, involving the Vatican, Italian banking and Italian and US bankers and a notorious Masonic lodge P2 intent in bringing down the Italian government of the time and influencing Argentina, plus all the links between the military, guerrillas, civilians, Vatican and bankers, and massive money laundering.
In this article recently published in the Buenos Aires media Manfroni strongly supports a Falklands/Malvins dialogue and praises the announced meeting of PM Theresa May with president Mauricio Macri sometime next month in the sidelines of the G20 summit in China.
Manfroni quotes from Martinez de Hoz memoirs that Ridley had invited the finance minister to several days of fly fishing in Scotland when the salmon run. Between salmon and salmon we were to find a formula to propose to our governments, on the Falklands issue, was Ridley's comment.
The content of the proposal, confirmed in ex ambassador Ortiz de Rozas memoirs book, Diplomatic secrets, consisted in a Falklands' lease similar to that of Hong Kong, but for thirty years , instead of a century as with the Chinese territory. This included economic cooperation accords for the exploitation of natural resources during the transition period.
Allegedly Martinez de Hoz who at the time did not enjoy good relations with Argentina's foreign ministry proposed to Ortiz de Rozas that someone of their trust, and active diplomat, should join Ridley in the salmon run, for which he should take some lessons on fly fishing. However since the Argentine foreign ministry was Navy's territory, and of ambitious Admiral Emilio Massera, they never replied and the fishing excursion fell through.
If this had advanced and a solution agreed, it is possible that effective Argentine sovereignty over Malvinas could have been fully acknowledged in 2010, speculates Manfroni.
A UK declassified confidential document signed by Roderic Lyne, private secretary of foreign secretary Lord Carrington underlines that the visit of the Argentine finance minister was to be most useful to continue with exploratory discussions on a solution for the Islands, and points out the significance that for the expected result would have economic cooperation accords.
The British were admitting that the Islands were in sharp declination and did not anticipate any future for them without reaching an accord with Argentina, Manfroni again speculates.
The Argentine researcher recalls that this was not the first UK proposal for a return of the Falklands/Malvinas. In effect a similar initiative had been presented by London in 1974 to then president Juan Domingo Peron, elected on a landslide, but his death in July impeded any advance. Likewise the foreign ministry under Alberto Vignes did not advance with the discussions.
However all these attempts fell through because in 1976 a military coup put an end to the government of Peron's wife and the Argentine Navy was preparing plans to invade and take the Falklands by force, with the leadership of Junta member Admiral Emilio Massera. For this 'nationalistic' plan the Argentine navy had support from members of the Montoneros guerrilla movement, and the Masonic lodge P2. Manforni argues that Massera was intent at all cost to force the Falklands conflict before his retirement age in August 1978, a plan coupled with another much cherished ambition of the admiral, become elected president of Argentina.
But Massera's intentions were unveiled and reported to the Junta chief and Army commander Jorge Ramon Videla, frustrating the admiral's plans. The diplomat who revealed the close links of Massera with the Montoneros , Elena Holmberg was later killed, but the Junta made theirs the invasion plan which was accomplished in 1982.
Not long before the Falklands invasion, according to Ortiz de Rozas, PM Thatcher strongly debated in Parliament to dismantle the Royal Navy's surface fleet and have it replaced by nuclear submarines equipped with US made missiles, in line with NATO priorities. This obviously enraged Royal Navy's admirals who would be forced to command an underwater force, but coincidently or not, the South Atlantic conflict saved the surface fleet and admirals' honor, while a nuclear sub gave evidence of their lethality with the sinking of the General Belgrano cruiser.
Finally Manfroni concludes that given the announced meeting of president Macri with PM Therea May next month to dialogue about the Falklands/Malvinas, and the fact that Argentina has returned to the civilized world, it is time to retake discussions and missed opportunities.