12,784 days ago Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Known as the Malvinas in this South American country, the fiasco was the fault of an inept government which had abused human rights and depleted resources. The military junta picked a fight to try to divert attention from the self-inflicted problems at home.
In a Wag the Dog scenario, the government plucked farm boys from the northern reaches of Argentina to go to a cold, isolated and almost barren island.
The military junta flexed its muscles to strut, preen and try to arouse the patriotic dreams of people who hadn’t done anything to harm anyone.
From farms and small villages, youthful men responded to the government’s siren call. Buoyed with nothing more than assurances of a better future; of training, of quality equipment of returning a hero, young hands enlisted.
Today, they are tired old men. Ignored and forgotten by another Argentine government. They wait in Plaza de Mayo for benefits promised but never delivered.
A handful of veterans has been staging a protest for almost a decade. The numbers swell when there are marches and a promise of television cameras. Through it all, a handful remains faithful to the purpose of the encampment. They are the ones who are there when the weather turns sour.
In a nation where there is a demonstration almost daily, this one has been permanent. While unions, teachers, bankers and others march and wave signs, inefficiently, for two -hours and call it a day, these men have weathered battering storms, blistering heat, bone-numbing cold and callous indifference to say, “We just want what was promised.”
As the young men went off to fight in a war they didn’t want, they didn’t realize many would be tossed aside like yesterday’s newspaper when they returned.
Decades of ineptness, inefficiency, and greed by the government have kept the promised benefits from reaching the men.
Cristina Kirchner, the failed and former Peronist President, was recently ordered to stand trial in Buenos Aires for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the country’s coffers. Money which should have gone to the veterans went to line the pockets of her cronies.
The current president, Mauricio Macri, seems to be more intent on nurturing an international image and making deals with failed American president, Donald Tump, than caring for men who live encamped on his doorstep of Casa Rosada, the Argentine base of the Executive branch of government.
Tourists from America and elsewhere stop to gawk at the signs and banners. They ask themselves what the display is about. What are the men protesting? Why is this demonstration going on? If the tourists replaced their desire to see with a desire to learn, the men will gladly speak with them and answer their questions.
Argentina is a nation that has been ruled for 80-years by the diseased and flawed principle of “Personism.”
While leader after leader has dipped their pocketbooks into the country’s treasury, these men have stood quietly and faithfully waiting for the agreement to be acknowledged.
I am an American freelance writer and ghostwriter now living the expat life in Argentina. Never far from my coffee and Marlboros, I am always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the million-or-so who follow my life and work on Twitter @ Journey_America.
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