A book, a hymn and the “Malvinization” of the Argentine society

A book, a hymn and the “Malvinization” of the Argentine society
Fecha de publicación: 
16 April 2024
Imagen principal: 

How was it possible that when the Argentine military government in 1982 decided to militarily recover and occupy by force the Malvinas Islands it managed such almost unanimous support from the Argentine society? All political parties, Peronism, the Radicals, and the powerful labor union organization, CGT, which only a few days before had organized a strike against the military government, all of them had openly supported the takeover action by force in the Islands. Even groups persecuted by the military government, and exiled groups from overseas expressed support for the military recovery. Firmenich an Argentine notorious terrorist undergoing guerrilla training in Havana, Cuba, pledged that the terrorist Montoneros group would attend the meeting in Plaza de Mayo to oppose the English aggression, and even the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, which did not support the military government had to “Malvinize” their speech, “the Malvinas are Argentine, and so are the disappeared”. In other words, they had to 'Malvinize” the universal human right.

This is the question that Argentine historian, Camila Perochena, a graduate and professor from the Buenos Aires and the Torcuato Di Tella universities tried to explain in an interview in a television program.

Ms Perochena begins by saying the question of how to explain the almost unanimous support for the invasion/recovery of the Falklands/Malvinas is a question that anthropologist Rosana Guber also asks in a book, “Why Malvinas?”, where she ties to explains when Malvinas became a national cause for the Argentine society. When did we Argentines become “Malvinized”, and Ms Gubber points out to the decades of 1930 as a landmark.

“A curious landmark because from the occupation of the Malvinas Islands by the English and the ”Malvinization“ of Argentine society, a hundred years had elapsed. It is not that the society, or political groups had ”Malvinized“ when the English occupation of 1833,”points out Perochena.

Description of the image
Paul Groussac, the French born Argentine intellectual
and author of the book “Iles Malouines”


At the time (1830s) it was nothing else but a government issue, demanding the return of the Islands, and there was no awareness or penetration of the issue in popular sectors of society or civil associations. But it was in the context of 1930 that we begin to hear about nationalistic speeches and anti imperialist stances and an anti English feeling. Until 1934 when a Socialist Senator Alfredo Palacios presents a bill to Congress calling for the translation from French to Spanish of the book “Les Iles Malouines”, written by Paul Groussac, which had been published a couple of decades before.

And the Groussac book sponsored by Palacios, was then included in the curricula of Argentine schools and copies of the book generously distributed in all of the country's libraries. That is when society sectors, plus school children and students begin reading about the Malvinas. This all happened when the centenary of the English usurpation, and access to history of the Islands, so by the 1940s Malvinas had penetrated the Argentine society, continued Perochena.

And to this must be added music and popular songs on the issue and finally the Malvinas March, which became a hymn, the winning song of a competition sponsored by a Junta for the Recovery of Malvinas. Furthermore, between the 1940s and 1980s, over a hundred songs emerged, including folklore pieces, even tango and rock piece later, joined the initiative. So we can say that by 1960 the Malvinas cause was an issue clearly installed in Argentine society, in public debate, in history and geography books, and repeatedly in songs and music.

Perochena then points out that on this background, as governments were involved in diplomatic negotiations to recover the Malvinas, the Argentine society had become more impatient and radicalized on the issue, and was not satisfied with the results of diplomacy, and was demanding a firmer stance on the recovery. This is enhanced in 1966 with a rather curious incident when a group of young nationalists organized in the so called Condor Operation, kidnapped an Aerolineas commercial aircraft heading for southern Patagonia and forced it to land in Port Stanley, “...in such a way that can be seen as expressing demand for a firmer attitude in diplomatic negotiations, which society felt were not working or delivering.”

“In other words the society had become more radicalized on the issue than governments, and there seems to have been a growing popular feeling of some form of combat over the Malvinas. It is not trying to blame or make responsible that popular feeling for what happened but helps to understand why there was such an overwhelming, almost unanimous, support for the Argentine military junta in the context of the April 1982 invasion/occupation of the Falklands/Malvinas.

”So we can say there is this arch extending from 1930 to 1980, with a progressive and deeper 'Malvinization' in the Argentine society which today continues as one of the national causes which has the greatest unanimous support and cohesion in the Argentine society.”

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