“Nationalism is a useless myth, certainly not the way to address current and real problems”, underlined the historian and political analyst Beatriz Sarlo who last week triggered a storm in Argentina by reiterating that the Falkland Islands are a British territory, belong to the Kelpers and remind her of southern Scotland.
Edgardo Esteban, war veteran and head of the Malvinas Museum said Ms Sarlo has always been a reference for him, despite our differences, but insisted the Islands look more like Argentine Patagonia than Scotland, and invited her to visit the Museum, and to understand why so many centuries of Argentine history in the Islands and what the Malvinas mean.
However consulted by La Nacion about the invitation, Ms Sarlo with her usual politeness replied that at school I was taught that when invited to debate, to sit and share a whisky or go out for a walk, I should write a few lines or make a phone call, or ask some common friend, instead of an invitation through a newspaper. If you invite anyone by a newspaper it is because you are after publicity and can anticipate a debate, and last but not least ensure the newspaper acts as a repercussion drum. However she also admitted to being very tough, when it comes to discuss or debate political or esthetic ideas.
The historian and debater thanked Esteban for his kind and caring words but said it would be very difficult for the head of the Malvinas Museum to debate seriously with someone like me, that has always stood by her thoughts and has referred to the military invasion that Leopoldo Galtieri planned to save a dictatorship that was already collapsing, saving it the way chosen by dictatorships: lightening the patriotic bonfire. Since she had been at Plaza de Mayo in April 1982, it has humiliating, populist, the worst of adventure nationalisms, which led to the death of conscripts from Corrientes and other very poor provinces, who were shipped to the south. There they ended suffering extreme cold and begging for food at the homes of the Falklanders. It was an ignoble adventure of which I received many details when I was in the Islands. And I repeat, those who love the Malvinas should spend a winter in the Islands. In effect Ms Sarlo travelled to the Falklands in 2013 to write several pieces for La Nacion, on the referendum which took place under the political statute of the Islands (99,8% of residents of the Islands voted to remain as a British Overseas Territory. Her notes are included in the book, Travels: From Amazonia to the Malvinas. In this country, Argentina, nationalism is a useless myth, no way to address current and real problems.
Ms Sarlo recalled some of the pieces she had written for La Nacion when visiting the Falklands. The people in the Islands consider themselves Islanders more than British. They place a way of life before any legal prescription. It would be a good idea if us Argentines would know what do those women and those men exactly mean when they define themselves as Islanders from the Falklands”, instead of trying to correct them by insisting in explaining what they call Falklands are really the Malvinas, because in 1833 the English evicted Gaucho Rivero (who is that guy?) and implanted a colonial dominion. To the second question the Islanders will reply that they are not a colony but an Overseas Territory. However we insist in arguing: even if they don't realize, you are living in a colony, under the resolutions from United Nations referred to decolonization. It's not a plausible debate. We could tell the Islanders that there are dead Argentines buried in the Islands and in the ocean. They could answer, why did you send them here?