39 years since the Argentine disembarkation on the Islands. This afternoon, President Alberto Fernández noted that “Argentine society still owes a huge debt of gratitude to each of the men who participated in the Malvinas conflict” as he announced that he will be sending to Congress three bills establishing measures to benefit war veterans on the occasion of the Day of the Malvinas War Veterans and Fallen, to be commemorated next Friday, marking the 39th anniversary of the disembarkation of Argentine troops on the Malvinas Islands with the aim of recovering such territory.
President Fernández made these statements as he presided over the meeting of the National Council for Affairs Relative to the Malvinas, South Georgias, and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime and insular areas, held via videoconference from the Presidential Residence in Olivos, where he was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship, Felipe Solá, and the Foreign Ministry’s Secretary for the Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic, Daniel Filmus.
Fernández also highlighted that “Argentine society and the State still owe an enormous debt of gratitude to those who fought in the Malvinas War to defend our national interests, and I think we must act quickly to put these heroes in the place they deserve; calling them heroes is not enough, we must make their lives easier after all they had to go through: this is our obligation.”
Along those lines, the President underscored that “many Argentines –a total of 649– lost their lives in battle, so every 2 April we must honour their memory, because they fought to protect our nation’s sovereignty. They were men who bravely gave everything on the battlefield under very difficult circumstances”.
In addition, Fernández emphasized that “I would like to honour each of the men who fought, to remember those who lost their lives in combat like true heroes, and I would also like to highlight the manliness and determination of the many men that returned, who gave everything in the war they had to fight: they were soldiers and officers.”
The meeting was also attended –virtually– by the Head of PAMI, Luana Volnovich; the Governor of Tierra del Fuego, Gustavo Melella; the Director of the Malvinas Museum, Edgardo Esteban; the members of the Council representing Malvinas veterans –including Martín Balza, former Chief of the Argentine Army– and the main political forces and academicians, as well as by other authorities and legislators.
President Fernández stressed that “throughout these years of democracy, we have commemorated 2 April as a day to pay tribute to our heroes and to remember Argentina’s sovereignty rights”, and he underscored that “we must work very hard for Argentina to reaffirm its sovereignty rights over the Malvinas Islands on a daily basis. Once we have recovered the Islands, the lives lost there will regain sense for ever”.
“I hope that, on this 2 April, these bills will help us to improve the lives of our heroes, to relieve the heavy burden that any human being who has fought in a war carries, to give them the place they deserve within society; we must not only call them heroes, but also make their lives easier,” said Fernández.
For his part, Foreign Minister Solá stated that “we take a moment to honour those who lost their lives and those who returned, to honour their families, who mourned for the fallen soldiers and who welcomed and had to support those that came back suffering physical, psychological and spiritual harm. Today we are paying homage to all of them”.
Filmus underscored: “Every 2 April is very close to the hearts of the people of Argentina: it is a day to remember, to honour, to pay tribute, to focus our attention on those who fought in the war; many of them did not return”.
The first bill that President Fernández will send to Congress establishes the “Exceptional, Special and Optional Pension Scheme for the Granting of Retirement Benefits” intended for Armed Forces conscript soldiers who were civilians when they fought in the war. This initiative was already unanimously approved by Congress on 16 November 2016 but was vetoed by the then Argentine President, Macri, on 12 December of the same year.
The second initiative aims to upgrade and institutionalize the National Care Programme for War Veterans by turning it into a federal Law. It was created in response to the need to safeguard the constitutional right to health, considering the pathologies affecting those who have been on the battlefield. The Programme also provides medical and dental care to their family group.
The third bill exempts former conscript civilian soldiers who were engaged in active combat while serving in the Malvinas Theatre of Operations (T.O.M.) from the payment of tolls on national roads and highways.
The Council, headed by the Argentine President, was created pursuant to Law 27558 −which was unanimously adopted on 4 August 2020− as provided under a bill put forward by the Executive, and formally established on 6 November of the same year. Its purpose is to work on the design of medium- and long-term State policies aimed at consolidating sovereignty over the archipelago.