By Marcos Brindicci
I was almost eight years old when the Falklands War started, and the first thing I remember about those days is seeing national flags flying from houses in my hometown in Buenos Aires province. It reminded me of the celebrations during the 1978 World Cup. Though only a child, I knew the government was not very popular in those years, so I was surprised and confused by the euphoria we felt when our troops landed in Port Stanley, the beginning of a war fought by many untrained conscripts.
As an Argentine I’ve been intrigued by the Falkland Islands since our military government decided to fight over them in 1982. I’d missed two opportunities in the past to travel there for Reuters and I was thrilled with the chance to finally go.
As I prepared the trip I began thinking about what the place symbolized, especially considering the renewed diplomatic tension with Britain and the upcoming 30th anniversary of the war. At the same time I kept thinking about the islanders because although we focus on the fight for possession, we rarely think about the islanders themselves. Even now, in the minds of many Argentines, they’re not part of the discussion.
To reach the Falklands from Argentina I had to go to Rio Gallegos in Patagonia and board a twice-weekly flight that begins in Chile and ends at the international airport in Mount Pleasant. I photographed a group of Argentine war veterans boarding the same plane, and that gave me an early start to the story. I wanted to get past the war aspect and focus on something else that was in my mind – that I was going to a place in which people actually live and call their home.
Going there as an Argentine citizen at a time of renewed diplomatic friction made the islanders’ patriotism and dissatisfaction with visitors from my country ever more obvious. I had hoped to blend in enough to be able to do a series of portraits of islanders. The sight of Union Jacks and the Falkland flag all over cars, shops and houses, made it all the more difficult.