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UPI Archives
Monday, June 14, 1982

Sadness replaces war fever in Buenos Aires

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, June 14, 1982 (UPI) - Where war fever reigned supreme just days ago, a dark mood of bitterness and dejection hung over the streets of Buenos Aires Monday.

''They lied to us,'' shouted one taxi driver as he pulled away from a newsstand where a cluster of Buenos Aires residents were listening to the news of Argentina's defeat at Stanley, which the Argentines renamed Puerto Argentino in the heyday of the war.

''The government told us our men had fallen back to Port Stanley to give the enemy a surprise with their large numbers and now they say our men are outnumbered and outmatched in technology by the British,'' said one man listening to the radio.

''All we have are a lot of dead kids,'' he grumbled.

Argentines' moods were as somber as the dark winter skies that covered the city like a gray mantle as news of the defeat at Stanley sank in.

Few people in this nation of soccer fanatics paid attention to television sets in the storefronts showing the world cup match between Brazil and the Soviet Union, two of Argentina's most formidable opponents in the tournament.

But at the sound of military music playing in a music store -- the sound that precedes a war communique on the radio -- a dozen well-dressed men and women scurried up the escalator at one large shopping center into the store.

Those left on the sidewalk stood and shook their heads, clicking their tongues as the government announced Argentine troops had been overwhelmed.

''It's over,'' one man said in resignation, his face pale and his hands stuffed into his pockets for protection from the bitter chill.

''What about all the help the Soviets and other Latin American countries were going to give us?'' asked one obviously poor man. ''All that talk... I guess no one likes our government very much in this continent.''

One of Argentina's most popular television shows, ''Woman,'' began on a somber note Monday as host Ana Maria gave a five-minute talk on the Falklands, sighing as she advised her audience of housewives and grandmothers to prepare for the worst.

''No matter what happens, we will know that we were fighting for our sovereignty,'' she said.

At least a few residents of this city of 11 million people turned their bitterness on the military government that plunged the nation into war just weeks after demonstrations for ''peace, bread and work'' were brutally suppressed in several cities.

''These guys have been hurting the Argentine people for too many years,'' said one middle-aged man who refused to give his name.

''If they have any shame at all they will admit they made a terrible mess of things and let civilians fix things up.''

The sadness that descended over previously exuberant Argentines was reflected in new posters appearing on the streets showing a tired Argentine soldier in a Falklands foxhole.

''Let this sacrifice strengthen the Argentina of tomorrow'', the poster proclaimed. ''If my body must stay here, the task accomplished, let it go to the stars that illuminate the skies.''

Copyright 2007 by United Press International.