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Chapter Twenty-three SURRENDER Although the Junta was not prepared for the sudden collapse in Stanley, there had been a growing sense that things were moving to an uncomfortable climax and this was accompanied by heightened political tension. As the armed services faced defeat, traditional inter- and intraservice rivalries had come to the fore. The Army hierarchy in particular was beginning to divide. It was only five months since Galtieri had come to power. Even without the trauma of possible defeat over the Falklands there were many who were hostile to the President, especially men in the officer corps who had suffered a loss of influence and position. Many senior officers felt that they had been kept in the dark as to the state of the negotiations and had not really understood how the war had come about in the first place. Now there was growing anxiety that the war was taking Argentina out of the Western sphere and into the communist, despite the intensity of the previous 'war' against Marxism and subversion. This was highlighted by the meeting between Costa Mendez and Castro on 31 May. It was true that the West appeared to have deserted Argentina - but the communist bloc had little to offer in its place.* Political parties of the centre and right shared this anxiety, and there is evidence that this was encouraged by the US Embassy in Buenos Aires. * The Soviet Union had offered arms after the landings and then more decisively after the US 'tilt', with the idea that they would be delivered through a third party such as Libya. However, the conditions for this - including diplomatic support in the UN on 4OO Surrender In Buenos Aires suspicions centred on General Walters. Although he had been put into Haig's negotiating team because of his supposedly good relations with Latin American generals, he was warily received as an expert in indirect American intervention. Anaya for one was convinced that Walters had been involved in an effort to install a pro-American government in Bolivia during the previous year. On 11 May, when relations between the two countries were particularly low, he had visited Buenos Aires. This was ostensibly to reassure the Junta that US satellites were not being used to support Britain. However, he had arrived without being invited and so the Junta interpreted his presence in terms of Haig's warning, issued as the US tilted to Britain at the end ofApril, that they would be 'wiped off the face ofthe earth'. As a result of this warning and Walters's visit, precautionary measures had been taken to get intelligence from the US Embassy. On 15 May Ambassador Schlaudeman was noted having discussions with Galtieri's opponents in the military. There were a number of meetings of senior politicians and retired military officers to the point where the Junta feared a conspiracy. Meanwhile popular discontent over the conduct of the war grew. During the Pope's visit to Argentina on 12-13 Ju n e (t0 maintain his own 'balance' after carrying on with his scheduled visit to Britain), the first expressions were heard of a desire for the war to be ended. Climax When the Argentine High Command heard at 09.00 on 14 June that the position at Tumbledown could no longer be sustained this confirmed its growing suspicion that the battle was lost and it began to prepare for surrender. There had been a vague plan to evacuate the such issues as American withdrawal from Central America - were considered too high. In practice the only equipment actually delivered from the Soviet Union was a scrambling device which Costa Mendez requested in early April to make possible secure communications while he was in the United States. It was widely assumed that the Soviet Union was providing intelligence to Argentina (it was certainly collecting it for itself) but this was not the case. 401 Combat city and continue the fight around the airfields, perhaps in conjunction with a last, desperate political initiative, but this was now wholly impractical. In the early morning of that day the Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, Lami Dozo, flew to Comodoro Rivadavia to follow the events in the Islands and then on to the San Julian air base in Patagonia. At 09.50 he was called by Brigadier Castellano, in the Islands, informing him of an order from Menendez to group all the personnel of the Argentine Air Force in the Islands by Stanley airport...


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