South America 1982: Falklands War
In 1982, partially to mobilize patriotic support in the face of its dwindling popularity, Argentina's military junta invaded the Falkland Islands - a British colony long claimed by Argentina as Islas Malvinas. The British responded swiftly, assembling a task force and retaking the islands in just over 2 months. The defeat cost the junta its power and led to the restoration of democracy in Argentina. However, the US decision to side with the UK against Argentina weakened its reputation in parts of Latin America and would help undermine the Rio Pact.
1 Oct 1979 Panama Canal Treaty effective▲
On 7 September 1977, United States President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty with Panamanian President Omar Torrijos, guaranteeing the return of the Canal Zone to Panama. The treaty became effective on 1 October 1979, when the Canal Zone ceased to exist and the process of transferring control from the US to Panama began. The US would continue operational control of the Canal until 31 December 1999, when it would relinquish this control and all remaining facilities to Panama.
27 Oct 1979 Independence of St Vincent & Grenadines▲
After exactly ten years as a British associated state, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines became fully independent. Milton Cato—Premier since 1974—became the country’s first Prime Minister, serving until his electoral defeat in 1984. Despite suffering from a number of devastating hurricanes over the next decades, the island nation would retain a stable democracy.
17 May 1980 Chuschi incident▲
The Shining Path—an organization founded in the 1960s by former philosophy professor Abimael Guzmán—responded to the re-introduction of free elections in Peru by launching a guerrilla war, burning ballot boxes in the town of Chuschi in the Ayacucho Region. Although the incident failed to gain much attention, Shining Path quickly expanded its reach in the region and the conflict would eventually claim almost 70,000 lives by 2002.
10 Jan 1981 Salvadoran Civil War begins▲
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN)—a merger of the leftist Unified Revolutionary Directorate with the Salvadoran Communist Party—launched an insurrection against the brutal Revolutionary Government Junta in control of El Salvador. The US-supported junta responded with scorched earth tactics, resulting in a decade-long civil war between the two sides.
22 Jan–21 Feb 1981 Paquisha War▲
After Ecuador fired on a Peruvian aircraft traveling in the as yet non-demarcated Ecuadorian-Peruvian border region to the east of the Condor Range, Peru ordered an inspection and found three Ecuadorian military posts in what it considered Peruvian territory. Denouncing these bases—called Paquisha, Mayaico, and Machinaza by Ecuador—as fakes, Peru recovered the disputed territory in a short series of air and land clashes.
17 Nov 1981 National Security Directive 17▲
United States President Ronald Reagan signed National Security Directive 17, authorizing covert support to counter-revolutionary (Contra) forces operating to overthrow the leftist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Heavily backed by the CIA, the Contras opened up fronts in the north and southeast of the country and began carrying out assassinations against members of the Nicaraguan government.
2 Apr 1982 Operation Rosario▲
In Operation Rosario, Argentine Task Force 40 landed 600 Argentine troops off Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands (claimed by Argentina as Islas Malvinas). They quickly defeated the 67 British defenders, installing Brigadier General Mario Menéndez as military governor over the Falklands’ 1,800 inhabitants the following day. In response, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 502, calling on Argentina to withdraw its troops from the islands.
3 Apr 1982 Invasion of South Georgia▲
After the British garrison on South Georgia rejected Argentine demands to surrender in the wake of the capitulation of the Falklands, 60 Argentine Marines began landing near Grytviken at 11:41am. Following a short firefight, in which the Argentinians lost 3 dead and a helicopter shot down, the 22 defending Royal Marines surrendered at 12:48.