Declassified British Documents Give Insights into Falklands/Malvinas War

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The British government has released over 3,500 official documents from 1982 related to the ten-week war on the Falklands/ Malvinas islands. The documents include testimonials by then-British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, given behind closed doors to the Falkland Islands Review Committee in October 1982.

The papers were released under the 30-year rule, which states official documents must be declassified after 30 years, unless the information contained within them could put Britain’s national security at risk.

Key revelations include how the Argentine invasion of the islands took Thatcher by surprise. She told the committee: “I never, never expected the Argentines to invade the Falklands head-on. It was such a stupid thing to do, as events happened, such a stupid thing even to contemplate doing.”

They also show the fears Thatcher had over re-taking the islands. Speaking of 31st March 1982, when “raw intelligence” proved the invasion was imminent, she said: “That night no-one could tell me whether we could retake the Falklands – no-one. We did not know – we did not know.”

Such were her fears, that days after the Argentine invasion, Thatcher contemplated ceding administration of the archipelago to the United Nations, in view to granting them independence.

The papers also reveal failed attempts by the former Mexican president, José López Portillo, to coordinate a meeting in Cancún between Thatcher and Argentina’s de-facto leader Leopoldo Galtieri in May 1982.

However, various documents, including some related to the submarine that sunk Argentina’s Belgrano warship, have not been made public.

The war lasted from 2nd April to 14th June 1982. Casualties included 650 Argentine soldiers, 255 British servicemen and three Falklands civilians.

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