Befriending ‘Common or Garden’ Dictators (1979 to 2 April 1982)
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This chapter explores the military, political and diplomatic links between the Thatcher government and the Argentine military regime before the Falklands war. The junta’s finance minister met Margaret Thatcher and was feted by FCO officials and British business executives. Mrs. Thatcher’s government approved the first ministerial visit to Argentina since the coup, in order to promote trade with the regime. The chapter provides a comprehensive and exclusive list of British arms sales to the Argentine regime and provides evidence that Conservative ministers violated their own guidelines by approving arms that were a potential threat to the Falklands and that could be used to violate human rights. It also shows that the Ministry of Defence in London lobbied strongly for arms sales and that British defence attachés in Buenos Aires had social links with Argentine military officers.