The Argentine ambassador Alicia Castro has a letter in today's Times. She's taking issue with the column by Matthew Parris from last month, in which he wrote of the 'systematic destruction and total dispossession of Argentina's original population' and pinpointed the hypocrisy in Argentina's president accusing Britain of colonialism over the Falklands. Castro now responds to Parris that 'Argentina has more inhabitants who consider themselves of indigenous descent than, for instance, Brazil', and continues as follows (£):
This is not to say we do not acknowledge the wrong done to Indians in our past. We do. In schools and universities up and down the country we condemn the extermination, removal and abuse of indigenous peoples. A vast body of legislation now ensures the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in Argentina.
Castro even makes a good point when she contests the suggestion that Argentina is 'doomed by its past':
This would be like asserting that the UK cannot advocate democracy and the upholding of human rights in the world because it used concentration camps in the Boer War, or perpetrated the massacre of Africans in the Mau Mau uprising.
Quite so. It's a point that should be digested by those fond of the Simon Jenkins-type argument that countries whose past isn't clean are in no position to 'lecture' other countries about democracy, human rights and what have you. That's a bad argument. So, good for the Argentine ambassador in saying that 'Argentina has moved on'.
There is one strange omission in her letter, however. She doesn't answer the point that her country is not well-placed to be charging Britain with colonialism. On this Castro is silent. One must presume that had she had an answer on the matter she would have availed herself of it, and therefore that she doesn't. In the circumstances, moving on might come to include dropping the colonialism theme from Argentina's publicly-stated positions concerning the Falklands.