STANLEY, FALKLAND ISLANDS – In nearby Argentina, President Cristina Kirchner and her ministers offered not a single word after the death this week of Margaret Thatcher. Absolute silence was the strictest order of the day in the halls of government in Buenos Aires.
Still, some veterans from the 1982 war did react, including the head of the Falkland’s Fallen Family Member’s Commission, César Trejo, who lamented that the former British prime minister died without being brought to trial in the Hague for the Royal Navy's sinking of the Argentinian war ship Belgrano, which killed 323 sailors during the short-lived conflict.
Meanwhile, Thatcher's memory was duly honored in the Falklands, where she has long been viewed as a singular heroine. Shortly after word spread of her death, the British-run administration of the Islands issued a statement. “It is with great sadness that we received news of the death of Baroness Thatcher this morning,” read the text signed by advisor Mike Summers. “She will forever be remembered in the Islands for her decisiveness in sending a task force to liberate our home following the Argentine invasion in 1982.”
He added that the islanders expressed their “sincere gratitude," concluding that Thatcher's “friendship and support will be sorely missed, and we will always be thankful for all that she did for us. The thoughts and deepest sympathies of all Falkland Islanders are with her family and friends at this sad time."
Thatcher is the only British Prime Minister with a Falklands street named after her, located behind the monument to British soldiers who died in the war with Argentina where Islanders gather every June 14th to mark what is known here as “Liberation Day,” the date Argentina surrendered in 1982.
Thatcher was on the archipelago only twice. She arrived for a surprise visit during the summer of 1983, then she was there for the local celebrations ten years after the victory in the war.
Recently, declassified documents from the UK show a surprising level of flexibility from even Thatcher's administration had regarding claims of sovereignty before the Argentine invasion, which may have caused a slight dent in the island's love affair with the ex Prime Minister.