By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek….
Unveiled last year, the note’s release ahead of the 32nd anniversary of the Falklands War is bound to stir nationalist fervor in both Argentina and the U.K.
The Central Bank of Argentina (Banco Central de la República Argentina) is set to begin issuing new 50 peso notes honoring the nation’s sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Isla Malvinas), in time for the 33rd anniversary of the Falklands War on April 2, 2015.
Argentina and the United Kingdom came into conflict over the Falkland Islands–along with the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands–when Argentina invaded the British Crown colony in 1982. The islands had been seized from Argentina by Britain in 1833, and Argentina has claimed sovereignty over what it considers occupied territory ever since. The Falklands Conflict (never an official “war” on either side), or Guerra de las Malvinas as it’s known in Latin America, lasted 10 weeks, with 255 British soldiers and 649 Argentine soldiers and sailors–and three Argentine civilians–dying as a result.
About the Design
The official theme of the 50 peso’s launch and design is “Malvinas Islands: A Sovereign Love”.
Isla Malvinas is the Spanish name for the Falklands.
According to Banco Central President Alejandro Vanoli, the “aim of this new banknote is to incorporate the Argentine nation’s unwavering claim over the Falkland Islands into an element of daily use.”
Front (Obverse): The obverse features the Falklands and the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands superimposed over the southern tip of both South America and Argentina. An albatross–native to the region–is located on the bottom of the center.
BANCO CENTRAL DE LA REPÚBLICA ARGENTINA is printed along the top near the center of the bill, with ISLA MALVINAS, GEORGIAS DEL SUR Y SANDWICH DEL SUR Y ESPACIOS MARÍTIMOS CIRCUNDANTE DEL ATLÁNTICO SUR (“Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich and maritime areas surrounding the South Atlantic”) to the right.
Written under that is NINGÚN SUELO MÁS QUERIDO DE LA PATRIA EN LA EXTENSIÓN (“No land is dearer to the homeland”).
In the lower right corner is a representation of Latin America, including Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America (Argentina is a darker shade of blue).
The watermark is another image of the Falklands. Above it is a yellow and green lighthouse; below, the Sol de mayo (“Sun of May”), the national emblem of both Argentina and Uruguay. The name refers to the May Revolution of 1810, when the Spanish colonial territory consisting of the modern-day countries of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia–partly inspired by the American Revolution–gained their independence from Spain.
The symbol itself has numismatic roots; it appeared on the first coin issued by Argentina in 1813.
The Sol de mayo is also on the Argentine flag.
Back (Reverse): Using intaglio and offset printing, the reverse features Argentine folk hero Antonio Rivero atop a horse and holding the national flag. Rivero was a gaucho, or rural laborer, who came to the Falkland Islands as a youth in the early 19th century. In 1833, he was the leader of a small revolt on the Isla Malvinas that led to the deaths of five prominent British settlers. Rivero and his compatriots were captured and sent to London to stand trial, but due to colonial rules of jurisdiction he could not be tried and was released.
The violence resulted in the eventual establishment of the Falklands as a Crown colony in 1841.
REPÚBLICA ARGENTINA EN UNIÓN Y LIBERTAD (“Republic of Argentina in Union and Liberty”) is printed slightly to the right of center on the top of the reverse. GAUCHO ANTONIO RIVERO (ENTRE RÍOS 1808 – BUENOS AIRES 1845), or “Gaucho Antonio Rivero (Entre Ríos Province 1808 – Buenos Aires 1845)”–the years and places of his birth and death–is printed underneath.
Below that is the number 50, representing the bank note’s face value of 50 pesos.
A small epigraph to Antonio Rivero is also inscribed on the back. It says:
”Primer defensor de la soberanía nacional en las Islas Malvinas, recuperó la soberanía patria en el año 1833. Luchó por los derechos sociales de los trabajadores en las Islas (First defender of national sovereignty in the Falkland Islands, he recovered sovereignty for the homeland in the year 1833. He fought for the social rights of workers on the Islands).”
On the bottom of the note’s reverse is a portrayal of the ARA General Belgrano, an Argentine naval vessel sunk by a British nuclear submarine in 1982.
An indigenous gull represents peace and a hillside full of flowers symbolizes those Argentines who died in the conflict.
In the middle of the design is a vista of the “characteristic geography of the Falklands”. Below and to the left of that is Darwin Cemetery, where Argentina’s military dead are buried.
British coverage of the new notes has been predictably hostile, with the Daily Mail twice referring to the “bloody” uprising of 1833 and calling Rivero and his group of workers and Native Americans a “gang”.
The British inhabitants of the islands have also taken to twitter and other social media to mock the new currency.
As for Argentina, President Cristina Kirchner announced the notes in a ceremony rife with patriotic sentiment last year on April 2, 2014, the 32nd anniversary of the war. In recent years, President Kirchner has had to deal with her own domestic and political troubles, including rampant inflation and the death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who had accused the government of conspiring with Iran to protect the perpetrators of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in the capital Buenos Aires.
The new notes will be distributed through ATMs, banks, and other financial institutions.
Older notes will continue to circulate.
At the time of writing, 50 Argentine pesos (ARS) trades for approximately £3.71 GBP and $5.73 USD.