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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Invasion day, but it's business as usual
By Paula Dear
BBC News, Stanley, Falkland Islands

Sunrise at the Liberation Memorial in Stanley

On 2 April 1982 Stanley was invaded and overcome by Argentine forces. From that day life in the town was changed forever.

Twenty-five years later, what is happening in Stanley and is the anniversary being marked?

In short, the answer is not really. People in the town say they would rather forget 2 April, and remember 14 June, the day the conflict ended with the Argentine surrender.

"That's our day," says one resident out shopping on Monday morning.

Invasion warning

But as much as Falklanders may want to disregard today it is inescapable, not least because of global media coverage and the presence of journalists and war veterans from both sides on the islands.

As the working day begins the main street, Ross Road, is quiet and there's still an early morning mist clinging to the air.

Patrick Watts had woken first at 0400, and then at 0500, and got to thinking about what he was doing this time 25 years ago.

"I don't normally do that," he says, "but for some reason I was thinking of it."

Malvinas Argentinas - go your home in England
Message sent to the Penguin News

On this day in 1982 Patrick, now 62, was working flat out at the local radio station, continuing to broadcast as Argentine soldiers bearing guns occupied the station.

He had worked all night after a warning of the invasion was issued the previous evening, and didn't sleep again until the night of 2 April.

"There was so much adrenaline going round I didn't feel tired," he says.

Later today the British Forces radio station BFBS will broadcast a special programme featuring Patrick's memories of 25 years ago.

Much of that morning was spent airing live phone calls from residents, who were telling him what they could see and hear of the invasion.

'No escape from the deaths'

"In those days you didn't normally allow people to come on the radio and say what they wanted. It just wasn't done. But we did it that day.

"It feels now like it happened just the other day. Those 10 weeks of the war felt like 10 years, but that last 25 years has felt like 25 days."

Of commemorating the day, he says 2 April was the day they lost their democracy after 150 years, which is not something they wish to rake over.

"And we cannot escape the fact that as a result of what happened more than 250 British servicemen and three civilians were killed, and the Argentines lost 700.

The West Store
Islanders say they are concentrating on the June commemorations

"You think of all those people who died, which we could never have envisaged that day."

Down the road at the office of local weekly paper the Penguin News, editor Jenny Cockwell and deputy Sharon Jaffray are preparing their pre-Easter edition.

The lead story in the current paper, declaring that last week's move by Argentina to denounce an agreement over hydrocarbon exploration came as "no surprise", shows issues with their neighbour are never far from the top of the agenda.

The pair say the number of "abusive" e-mails and phone messages they receive from Argentina escalates at the time of the invasion each year.

Jenny plays out an answer phone message left at the weekend - it consists of a lot of colourful language suggesting what should happen to the Falklanders, the UK and the Queen.

Bomb threat

One local councillor had an e-mail that threatened to bomb the islands' railways (of which there are none) as happened in the London terrorist attacks, adds Jenny.

And an e-mail from this morning on her own computer simply reads: "Malvinas Argentinas. Go your home in England."

Jenny, a New Zealander whose father is from the Falklands, says many Argentine journalists who contact her are under the impression "we are being held under duress by the British government".

"But we are British, I will always say I am British if people ask," says Sharon.

People identify with Britain because that's where their ancestors came from, says Darlene Buckland, who is shopping at local supermarket the West Store with two-year-old son Liam.

Bravery remembered

The invasion anniversary is "just an ordinary day for me", she adds.

Sunday was a more significant day, she says, because 1 April was the day her brother, as a member of the civilian Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF), was called up to help repel the attack as invasion became inevitable.

This year, for the first time, FIDF's role was officially recognised with a ceremony at Stanley's Liberation Monument.

Current members and veterans of 1982 gathered in the sunshine to remember the bravery of the 32 men who answered the call to arms.

The emotional ceremony ended with a rendition of God Save the Queen.

A reception was held by the Governor, followed by another do at the FIDF Club in the town.

But come Monday morning in Stanley, it was back to business as usual.




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