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Falklands War: Why the battle continues 30 years later (+video)

Some 30 years after the Falklands War, Prince William's deployment and the recent discovery of oil have increased attention on the battle between Argentina and the UK for control of the islands.

By Contributor / April 2, 2012

Miguel Savage, a veteran of the Falklands War, at his home in Venado Tuerto, Santa Fe province. Thirty years ago today, Mr. Savage was sent as a 19-year-old conscript to fight against the British and fully supports Argentine President Cristina Kirchner's current effort to regain sovereignty of the Islands from the UK.

Jonathan Gilbert

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Venado Tuerto, Argentina

On the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is intensifying her bid to reclaim the islands, uniting leaders across South America against what she calls a "colonial enclave," and souring relations with the UK.

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Argentina commemorates the 30th anniversary of the war with Britain over the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas).

President Kirchner will commemorate the event, which lasted just over two months and killed more than 900 men, in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in Argentina. Thousands have gathered for the vigil to the war's fallen soldiers, and a march to the British embassy in Buenos Aires is expected to take place later this afternoon.

British Prime Minister David Cameron argues that the 3,000 residents of the Falkland Islands have the right to self-determination, while Kirchner denounces his “neo-colonial” attitude. Together with the Mercosur trade bloc, she has condemned the recent “militarization” of the region and says the British government must respect a 1965 UN resolution that calls for the two countries to negotiate sovereignty of Las Malvinas, the name for the archipelago in Spanish.

Tensions over the Falklands intensified in February 2010 when London authorized oil prospecting around the islands. British petroleum companies said they made significant hydrocarbon finds, and Argentina quickly laid claim to a section of the continental shelf encompassing the Falklands and parts of Antarctica, and said ships traversing their territorial waters en route to the Falklands would require a permit.

Thirty years ago, Argentina’s ailing military junta, headed by Leopoldo Galtieri, pounced on a diplomatic crisis in the South Georgia Islands and invaded the Falklands in an attempt to galvanize Argentina in a wave of patriotism. Mr. Galtieri didn’t predict that Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister, would respond to his move so decisively.

On April 4, a task force of 127 ships was sent by the UK to recover the Falklands. The junta – which originally planned a symbolic occupation followed by a quick withdrawal – was quickly drawn into battle, despite the fact that its troops had only started training two months earlier. 258 British and 649 Argentine soldiers died over the course of the war.

Miguel Savage was a 19-year-old conscript in La Plata, Argentina, at the time. He was ten days away from a return to civilian life when the phone rang on April 2, calling him to the front line.

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