2 April 2012

THE FALKLANDS WAR: 30 YEARS AFTER (ADV)

Monday, April 2,  marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War -- or, as the Argentinians refer to it, la Guerra de las Malvinas. The Falklands, an Atlantic archipelago 460 km (290 mi) east of Argentina, are the subject of a long-standing dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom. In 1982, Argentinian junta leader General Leopoldo Galtieri sent 600 troops to take the islands, which then had a population of 1,800 people. The British government was surprised by the attack, but quickly organized a task force and sailed south to retake the territory. A brief but bloody series of battles took place at sea, in the air, and on the ground, ending with a British victory on June 14 -- 74 days after the initial invasion. In all, more than 900 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured. The loss marked the beginning of the end of Galtieri's junta, but not the dispute over the islands. Current president Cristina Fernandez has been ratcheting up pressure on Britain to engage in new talks over what her countrymen call the Malvinas.
Watch this video where a British Falklands veteran embarks on an extraordinary journey to meet the Argentine pilot he thought he'd killed in the 1982 conflict. Neil Wilkinson from Leeds was 22-years-old when, as an anti-aircraft gunner onboard HMS Intrepid, he shot down an enemy skyhawk fighter jet. For decades he believed the pilot was dead. But First Lieutenent Mariano Velasco had ejected from his burning aircraft and survived. Now, three decades on, the two former enemies have come face to face for the first time. Nicola Rees reports from the Falklands and Argentina for BBC Look North and BBC Inside Out in Yorkshire.