Falklands anniversary: Argentine media subdued
- 14 June 2012
- From the section Latin America & Caribbean
The 30th anniversary of the surrender of Argentine forces on the Falklands Islands has failed to stir the country's media commentators.
Many newspapers report on President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's planned address on the "Malvinas" to the UN Decolonisation Committee, but little opinion on the Islands' sovereignty is expressed.
For her part, Ms Fernandez launched an international media campaign affirming Argentina's claims on the Islands. In an advertisement that was seen in British, Indian and Russian newspapers, Ms Fernandez called upon the UK government to enter negotiations and "give peace a chance".
The announcement that a referendum on the Island's future sovereignty would be held in 2013 was reported widely, with the tone suggesting that the result would favour the UK.
The anniversary also failed to animate users of the microblogging site Twitter. While a moderate number of tweets containing the word "Malvinas" were posted, the story was not among the 10 most popular topics in Argentina or wider South America.
Ms Fernandez's planned meeting with the UN decolonisation committee was prominently reported, but coverage was largely factual - with little opinion expressed.
Popular dailies Clarin and La Nacion have run a series of reports in the lead up to the anniversary featuring sombre accounts from veterans of the conflict. One Clarin article was headlined "I was relieved and I'm not ashamed," which quoted an Argentine soldier recalling his feelings upon hearing news of the surrender.
La Nacion also published a review of UK press coverage of the anniversary and a short story on the flying of the Falkland Islands' flag over 10 Downing Street. Clarin prominently featured a report on Prime Minister David Cameron welcoming the referendum on the Islands' future sovereignty.
Left-wing daily Pagina 12 offered very little coverage of the anniversary, save for a cartoon by Danial Paz suggesting that the result of the referendum was very likely to please Mr Cameron. The tabloid Cronica quoted a report from French news agency AFP, adding a headline which described the Prime Minister as a "pirate".
One opinion piece appeared on the pro-Fernandez website InfoNews. In the article, entitled "Your people do not surrender, Malvinas," the writer, Jorge Giles, described a 2003 meeting between former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London during which the issue of the Islands' sovereignty was raised for the first time in the "colonial house".
By Giles' account, at that moment: "English breathing stopped. Diplomacy stopped. The time of forgetting stopped".
Noting that President Fernandez will be accompanied by families of fallen Falklands veterans and politicians from across the political spectrum in her meeting with the decolonisation committee, he said: "For the first time this constant defence of our sovereignty is part of a national, popular and democratic government."
The anniversary has received moderate attention among Twitter users in South America. Use of the word "Malvinas" gradually increased in the seven days leading up to the anniversary, and it was one of the 30 most used words in tweets from Argentina on the day itself.
The majority of tweets referred to President Kirchner's address to the decolonisation council, often containing a link to a news story, but rarely any opinion. The news that the flag of Falkland Islands was flying over 10 Downing Street became popular later in the day.
Perhaps surprisingly given the media campaign mentioned above, President Fernandez's official twitter feed has yet to mention the anniversary. Her last reference to the Islands came on 25 May where she thanked the state of Angola for its support on the issue.
Early in the day, a regularly retweeted message came from user Cecy Maya (over 3,700 followers) who affirmed Argentina's claim on the islands, and described the "English" as "pirates".
A message from Buenos Aires-based rapper Emanero (@emanero, over 3,200 followers) which suggested that the UK trade the Falklands back in return for the Argentine weather was also shared among users.
After Argentina, the country where the topic was most discussed was Venezuela, bolstered by recent comments on the Islands by politicians Roy Chaderton the Ambassador to the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Chaderton's assertion that South Americans were "fed up" with imperialism and that the UK was protecting its "financial interests" in the Falklands were popular topics on the micro-blogging site among Venezuelans.
In Brazil, journalist Francisco Barreira (over 13,000 followers) said: "The Malvinas are Argentine. And symbols of the solidarity and unity of South America." The story was also discussed to a lesser extent in Chile and Mexico.
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