“The saddest page of history between Argentina and Britain”, Ambassador Hayes

“The saddest page of history between Argentina and Britain”, Ambassador Hayes

Saturday, April 2nd 2022 – 09:59 UTC

Ambassador Hayes said “it was not the only page of shared history, nor the first and definitively not the last”

Kirsty Hayes, current British ambassador in Argentina wrote a column, published in Buenos Aires main daily, La Nacion pointing out that April 2nd was the beginning of the saddest page of the wide history of relations between Argentines and British. A painful date that brings sad memories to many families and sensitizes us all who some way or another work to build bridges between our nations, Ambassador Hayes begins her column.

She recalls that some 900 people died in the South Atlantic conflict, fighting on one side or the other, plus three civilian women in the Islands, which are missed today as on the first day.

Ms Hayes went on to say that in recent years as part of the efforts to honor their memory, UK and Argentina have cooperated with the International Red Cross and the government of the Falkland Islands to successfully advance the Plan Humanitarian Project to identify 119 Argentine soldiers buried in unmarked graves.

“Our objective is to continue working along that line to guarantee that the wishes of the affected families are honored”, pledged Ambassador Hayes.

Further on she recalls her experience when visiting the Argentine military cemetery at Darwin before taking office in Buenos Aires, and once in Argentina, contacted the Commission of Families of the Fallen in Malvinas. Likewise how moved she was by a play from an Argentine director, “Mined Field”, with three Veterans from each side as leading actors telling their battle experiences

The Ambassador also mentioned that through different programs the UK government is committed to work with Veterans organizations from both sides, since the consequences of post traumatic stress disorder can be more harmful than war actions, and how at the end a person is a person no matter the uniform he’s wearing.

Ms Hayes recalled the visit to to Argentina in 2018 of the Foreign Secretary, now Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who on landing the first thing he did was to lay a floral wreath at the memorial in Plaza San Martin which honors all the fallen in the 1982 conflict, which “I firmly believe is the spirit that must guide us in this 40th anniversary”.

But, pointed out UK ambassador, this is not the only page of shared history, nor the first and definitively not the last.

In effect in two hundred years the bilateral relation has had more positive exchanges than misunderstandings. Since San Martin’ in London to joint collaboration among scientists from the two countries to develop the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, plus the railway net work in Argentina to which Britain contributed, the establishment of Welsh colonies in Patagonia, the successful passage of Argentine football players in the Premier League or the joint work of our governments in international forae to defend the rights of the LGBT+ community or fighting against climate change, are examples to mention but a few.

And as in any bilateral relation including two friendly nations such as the United Kingdom and Argentina, we have our differences. “I am aware that many readers may feel differently to me when it comes to the Falkland Islands sovereignty. That they may not accept the defense my country has done to the right to self determination of the Islanders. I respect those opinions, although I do not share them”.

But I am also aware that even more will coincide with me in honoring the fallen, no matter their nationality, in accompanying their families and expressing our maximum respect for the Veterans. At the end of the day these are the attitudes which characterize the best in human beings.


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