Argentina: The Softly, Softly Approach?
Two recent Argentine initiatives are perhaps worth comment, since they don’t fall into the usual mould of pressure and harassment adopted under the Kirchner presidencies.
The first is the announcement on 1 September that the National University of San Juan Bosco, headquartered in Comodoro Rivadavia, is to offer 10 academic scholarships to Falkland Islanders to study in Argentina at undergraduate or postgraduate level. The programme was announced by Daniel Filmus, ‘Malvinas’ Secretary in the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, alongside officials from the Argentine Ministry of Education and the University. This is reminiscent of the scholarships offered by the Argentine Government in the 1970s, for which there was some take-up. But it is symptomatic of the Argentine approach that there has been no discussion with the Department of Education in the Falkland Islands about the scheme.
The second is the intention of ‘Rugby sin Fronteras’ (Rugby without Borders), an Argentine non-governmental organisation, to organise a rugby football match against British veterans from the 1982 conflict in Richmond on 21 September, shortly after the start of the Rugby World Cup. This is the group that came to the Falkland Islands some years ago to try to play some rugby with Islanders, without much success. They have said that they will try to persuade the Pope to bless the initiative – yet another attempt to embroil him in this political issue.
Both smack of publicity stunts, attempting to put Argentina in a better light with its Falklands policy.