The war in the Falklands was a politician’s war. Whether it is seen from Argentina’s viewpoint – as an act of decolonization – or from Britain’s – as a defence of the principle of self-determination – the idea is still the same: how we think and talk of the war is largely determined by what politicians have to say about it.
A very different understanding is provided by the soldiers who were asked to fight, and it is their viewpoint that Daniel Kon, a journalist from Buenos Aires, sought from among members of the returning Argentine army. Kon’s aim was hardly impartial. He did not speak to generals or politicians. He couldn’t be bothered with dates or battles or even the reasons that accounted for why Argentina found itself in the ‘Malvinas’ in the first place. He was interested in only one thing: what the ‘chicos’ – the eighteen and nineteen-year-olds of Argentina’s infantry – had to say about their experience. Many of the young soldiers Kon interviewed had already fulfilled the one year military service required by the government, and were called back at the time of the invasion. Others, however, were ‘volunteers’ who went for different reasons: to defend the honour of their country, or – inspired by visions from Hollywood – to participate in what they believed would be the glory of battle, or else merely to be certain that they were not going to miss out on anything that their friends had already left to experience. None of these reasons sounded very convincing at the end of the war.
Most of the soldiers interviewed asked that their names not be printed in full.