Argentines return to divided Falklands

EDGARDO ESTEBEN, now 34, left the Falklands Islands by ship as a teenage prisoner of war in 1982, with a gun at his back. But he returned on Saturday to Mount Pleasant with 69 other Argentines on a new mission. As a television reporter, he is finding out how the islanders feel about the first visit by Argentines since General Leopoldo Galtieri's surrender ended the war with Britain. He is the only war veteran among them.

Two thousand Falklanders were bitterly split over the visit. Pub brawls broke out between former friends, and the councillors who approved the agreement between Britain and Argentina by a margin of 7-1 suffered verbal and physical abuse. Bricks were hurled through an office window, and obscene graffiti was scrawled on the walls of one residence. But the councillors insist there is "a silent majority of the population in favour of the agreement".

Margaret Watson, 37, who was a shop clerk during the war and now raises two young children, vehemently disagrees. "Having so large a group of Argie journalists roaming the streets again and invading our privacy horrifies me and brings back bad memories," she said.

Anne Grisby, a shipowner, appears to be more open: "The Argentines should have been allowed access much sooner and at a slower pace so we could get used to the idea," she observed.

"We have been treated perfectly well, with no problems of any kind," said Gerardo Verkindere, a Buenos Aires transmission technician staying at the Upland Goose hotel. "The food and drink here are fine. But it is very cold." After a hearty breakfast with mutton sausages, the Argentine sightseers were pulling on wellingtons and woollies to tour the boggy battlefields outside Port Stanley. Many were packing binoculars to spot albatross and five types of penguin. Behind a guard fence, they could gawk at Gentoo penguins waddling over a wide beach planted with plastic Argentinian mines, still undetonated. It is far too chilly to attempt any deep-sea fishing for mullet or smelt, a sport that's been introduced to the islands recently. Previously, most fishing was commercial. Other than the odd toy penguin or moody photograph, the souvenirs are thin on the ground.

Mr Esteben, the veteran, was bracing himself for a visit to the military cemetery at Darwin. "During the war," he explained, "I swapped guard duty with another soldier and [on my watch] he got killed. Heis buried in the Malvinas."

"The war was absurd," he reflected. "I want the Malvinas to be Argentine again, but force achieves nothing."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, an experienced and hig...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Plumbing & Heating / Bathroom Trade Counter Sales

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established London ba...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat