Former Foreign Minister Costa Mendez Dies
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, (AP) _ Nicanor Costa Mendez, a former foreign minister and key figure in the Falklands war in 1982, died Sunday of cancer, his family reported. He was 69.
A lawyer linked to right-wing Catholic groups, Costa Mendez gained prominence 10 years ago as one of the inspirers of Argentina’s internationally-rebuffed attempt to recover by force the Falkland Islands, a British Crown Colony since 1832. He was then appointed foreign minister and the principal civilian counselor of military President Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri.
He said in 1985 that ″regarding the Malvinas war, all I have to say is that I fought in defense of the Argentine national interest and of my country’s sovereignty.″ The Falklands are known as the Malvinas in Argentina.
Costa Mendez had served as foreign minister from 1966 through 1969 under former President Gen. Juan Carlos Ongania.
An avowed anti-Communist, he called for a close association with the United States.
But when the United States and Western Europe sided with Britain during the Falklands conflict, Costa Mendez did not hesitate to seek the support of the Communist bloc.
He flew to Havana to attend a non-aligned meeting and was cordially received by Cuban President Fidel Castro.
During meetings of the United Nations Security Council and the Organization of American States, Costa Mendez depicted U.S. support to Britain in the Falklands war, as a ″betrayal to the rest of the Americas.″
The Security Council urged Argentina to withdraw its forces.
Costa Mendez was dismissed as foreign minister following the Armed Forces’s decision to oust President Galtieri, after the Argentine military surrender in the Falklands on July 14, 1982.