“La Dama de Hierro” has passed away. Argentina’s media has always embraced the Iron Lady title, a nickname that in its eyes went hand-in-hand with a bellicose and colonialist outlook.
While the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death caused a wave of tributes in the UK, including assertions that she had transformed Britain, the reaction in Buenos Aires was far more muted. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the foreign office made no immediate comment.
But the lady forever associated with the 1982 Falklands War continues to provoke strong feelings among Argentineans even in death. The news comes just weeks after the Falklands Islanders’ overwhelming decision to remain a British overseas territory, branded as “illegal” by Buenos Aires.
“Thatcher was someone who only deepened the world’s differences and didn’t try to find a peaceful solution,” said Ernesto Alonso, president of the National Commission for Falklands veterans. He was busy helping with humanitarian aid in La Plata, the city where over 50 people were killed in flash flooding last week, but took time out to speak to The Independent.
“Both the military dictatorship in Argentina and Thatcher shared the same violent outlook,” he added. “They were part of the same political class. She won’t be remembered [here] for being a good person.”
La Nación, the country’s leading conservative newspaper, published an online story shortly after the announcement recalling Thatcher’s “aggressive style and controversial decisions” but didn’t allow anyone to post comments on the page “due to the sensitivity of the subject matter”.
On Twitter, reactions were far stronger. Luis D’Elía, a trade unionist aligned with the government, recalled the sinking of the Belgrano war ship in which 323 Argentinean lives were lost – still a highly sensitive issue in Argentina – adding, “may God take pity on her soul”.
The biggest controversy was the Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos, one of the region’s few right-wing leaders, who Tweeted: “We regret the [news of] the death of The Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. Controversial, brave, a strong character and a friend of Colombia.”