Still overcome with emotion after visiting the graves of their loved ones for the first time, family members of the 90 recently identified Malvinas War soldiers have been sharing what it meant to them to pay their respects nearly 36 years after the end of the war.
More than 200 family members traveled to the Malvinas yesterday to grieve before the graves of the 90 soldiers who had been buried after the war as unknown soldiers “known only to God.” The soldiers were identified as part of a process involving humanitarian cooperation with the United Kingdom, the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“I was walking quickly when I entered the cemetery because I wanted to throw myself on his tomb to be able to feel him. I needed to hug his cross and give him all of the messages that I was bringing from family and friends,” said Elsa Mosto in conversation with Télam while still on the islands.
Mosto’s brother Carlos “Curita” Mosto was killed during the war and his family learned in December 2017 that his body had been identified. As only two family members per soldier were allowed on the planes to the islands yesterday, Elsa carried with her messages for Carlos from Verónica, his girlfriend when he left for the war. Verónica was 16 at the time.
Verónica was responding to the last letter she received from Carlos, sent only days before he was killed in which he wrote “I’m telling you that this is coming to an end. They’re 10, 12 kilometers away and they’re getting ready for the end. So are we. Maybe it’s time that I get to know the face of my brother enemy. I have never felt nor will I feel hatred for the English. I want you to know that I also pray for that English (soldier) that one day may be in front of me.”
For Elsa, the soldiers killed during the war “are buried in a land that is their because they made it theirs with the blood that they spilled.” That sentiment was shared by María Fernanda Araujo, president of the Comisión de los Caídos en Malvinas, who said that “they cannot return to Argentina because they are already in Argentina.”
Speaking last night at Ezeiza airport after returning from the islands, for Araujo the “trip meant closing the wounds of the wait, but it is the start of a new era, something wonderful on which we have to continue working so that it keeps on happening.
“The moment that we had today will remain in our memories forever and the only thing that we ask for is that there be more trips for the mothers that couldn’t travel.”
For Sergio José Aguirre, the trip to the islands brought immediate relief. “I spent 36 years thinking that my father’s body was in the sea. Today was the first time that I went to the islands and I when I go to sleep tonight I will feel a great deal of peace.” Aguirre’s father Miguel Aguirre was killed in combat at the age of 52 and until December he had no idea that his father had in fact been buried at the cemetery in Darwin.
Aguirre was also thankful. “This shows that when Argentines come together in peace and dialogue, many important things can be achieved. I give thanks for the respect and support from the Argentine people.”
Interviewed on radio Continental today, Dalal Abd said that “being with him was a sublime moment, it surpassed my expectations.” Abd’s son Daniel Massad died on the 11th of June, 1982, not long before the end of the war.
“I went to find him, I began to grab hold of the cross and to speak to him in between my sobbing” she said, noting that her son was killed by gunfire when he went to tell others that were closer to the front line that the order to fall back had been given. “He cared more about telling his comrades than about his own life.”
Raquel García, whose son Daniel Ugalde died on the islands, recalled in conversation with FM Milenium that “when I went in 2009 and I couldn’t find his grave, I promised my son that I didn’t know when nor how but that I would give him back his identity.” Yesterday, she was able to say “here I am, I’m here, God has let me keep my promise: you have your identity once again and you’re no longer an unknown soldier.”
García nonetheless admitted that the “pain is always there” and that her husband never coped with their son’s absence. Like many others, he passed away before his son’s grave could be identified.
Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj, who traveled to the islands yesterday, said at Ezeiza that the trip was a “new chapter in the history of the Malvinas” and that he hoped people would draw lessons from “the images of a cemetery full of love.”
“This started during the previous government, but what we are celebrating here is the fulfillment of an historic demand. And so it is an honor for those who deserve it and for those who made this happen.”