Argentines visit graves of loved ones killed in Falklands War
BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Relatives of 90 Argentine soldiers killed in the Falklands War of 1982 paid tribute to them at their graves for the first time Monday, after the previously nameless remains were identified last year.
Parents, siblings and other relatives traveled overnight Sunday to the South Atlantic islands and returned the same day under a diplomatic accord with Britain.
The graves of the 90 soldiers were identified last year by the International Committee of the Red Cross via DNA testing on the remains. They were among 121 who, since the war, had been interred in graves labeled “no name.”
Altogether, there are 237 graves at the hilltop burial grounds known among Falkland Islanders as “the Argentine cemetery,” with 31 sets of remains still not identified.
Monday was an emotional day for those who are now able to stand by the grave they know to be holding the remains of their kin.
“Now I know where he is. I could talk to him. I feel him close,” said Dalal Massad, mother of Daniel Massad, who died on June 11, 1982 in one of the fiercest battles of the short but costly war.
Argentina suffered 649 fatalities in the 74-day war, and Britain 255.
“Nothing is going to change history. Nothing is going to change the loss that each of you suffered,” Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie told the travelers before they set out Sunday night.
“But in some way, looking at a plaque with their first and last name has a different value.”
The war began when troops dispatched by then Argentine dictator Leopoldo Galtieri occupied the archipelago.
A British expeditionary force was sent to the Falklands, known by the Spanish-speaking world as the Malvinas, and took them back.
Britain refuses to negotiate the status of the islands, as demanded by Argentina, arguing that the nearly 3,000 people living on the islands voted in a referendum in 2013 to remain part of Britain.