This was the Argentinian President Kirchner's comment on the recent referendum in the Falkland Islands (or Islas Malvinas to the Argentinians), where 1,513 out of 1,517 (a 92% turnout) voted in favour of remaining British.
Her attitude was no surprise to anyone who's been following her approach over the last few years, but the extent of her commitment surprised to me, when I visited the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires last month, and found the writing literally on the wall!
This picture shows a metallic outline of the islands, displayed in a prominent position in one of the courtyards. The image, emblazoned with the Argentinian flag, also appeared in the Gallery of Latin American patriots (see below), while outside in the Plaza de Mayo, protestors flags (picture below) read:
"Las Malvinas fueron, son y serán Argentinas.
La sangre derramada jamas será negociada.
Por nuestros hermanos muertos en las Islas, océano y continente.
The Malvinas were, are and will be Argentina's.
The blood shed will never be negotiated.
For our brothers killed in the islands, ocean and continent.
I was born on 15th April 1982, during the Falklands war, on a day when Argentine tanks were photographed rolling down one of the island's streets. So I had a heightened sensibility to this area of conflict between my country and the country I was visiting. I spotted the outline of the islands in other prominent places around Buenos Aires, in one case it made a rather attractive water feature! I avoided discussing it with people we met, but my travelling companion, a Frenchman, was not so discreet! His enquiries met with a determined silence from most. I got a sense of a culture where it was best to avoid political conversations, particularly with strangers.
I was fascinated by Matthew Parris's recent article in The Times highlighting the hypocrisy of Argentina's approach. He quotes General Julio Argentino Roca, President of Argentina twice near the end of the 19th century:
“Our self-respect as a virile people obliges us to put down as soon as possible, by reason or by force, this handful of savages who destroy our wealth and prevent us from definitely occupying, in the name of law, progress and our own security, the richest and most fertile lands of the Republic.”
and points out that the history of Argentina has left only 1.6 per cent of its 40 million inhabitants directly descended from or calling themselves indigenous people.
Of course two wrongs don't make a right. However, Kirchner's focus seems to be on the land, whereas the British are taking the cue from the people. For me, the people are more important. But my trip to Buenos Aires has left me in no doubt that this is not a problem that's just going to go away.