The Argentine and UK embassies are allegedly getting closer to an agreement to carry out DNA tests on unidentified Argentine soldiers buried on the Malvinas Islands. 237 soldiers fallen during the 1982 Malvinas War were buried at the Darwin Cemetery on the Eastern Island of the Malvinas: 123 of the white crosses do not have names on them and bear the the words “Argentine Soldier Known Only By God.”
According to Clarín, the Argentine Team Of Forensic Anthropology (EEAF) is involved in the possible upcoming agreement, the details of which are very secret. The EEAF is a forensic NGO that has collaborated in collecting blood samples to identify children disappeared during the last military dictatorship and identified the body of the emblematic Ernesto “Che” Guevara when he was murdered in Bolivia.
Different initiatives to identify the 123 unidentified Malvinas victims were often plagued by the politics surrounding tense bilateral relations between Argentina and the UK under former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. However, last year, progress was made when former Malvinas Affairs Secretary Daniel Filmus met with the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in order to move forward with the identifications.
According to the EEAF, the organization has been working on the “Malvinas Project” for two years:
“It began with [Cristina’s] request to the ICRC […] We have already interviewed 81 families [and established] a protocol of data collection to aid identification as well as the genetic findings,” said the EEAF President Luis Fondebrider to Télam news agency.
This is the first concrete issue that is being treated by the UK and Argentina on a bilateral level under President Mauricio Macri’s administration, with the work of both Argentina’s Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Philip Hammond. This new collaboration seems to fall under a new phase in bilateral relations where the islands’ sovereignty issue isn’t discussed in order for there to be some sort of rapprochement between the two nations.
Macri met with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, which saw Cameron emphasize that the British stance remained unchanged. This stance is basically that the referendum held in 2013 as inalienable proof that the islanders wish to remain British.
The Malvinas War was a brief three-month conflict between Argentina and Great Britain over the island’s sovereignty. 237 Argentine soldiers were killed and 123 of these are buried in unmarked graves today.