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Twenty-five years ago, Miguel Boyero was aboard the Argentinian warship the General Belgrano when it was sunk by torpedoes fired from a British submarine at the start of the Falkland Islands war.

Boyero survived; 329 of his comrades died. Last month, Boyero hanged himself just days after the start of the war’s 25th anniversary commemorations. He joins an estimated 400 Argentinian veterans who have committed suicide since the conflict ended.

For most Argentinans the belief that Las Malvinas (as they call the Falklands) belong to Argentina is as much a part of their national identity as Eva Peron, Maradona or the tango. But while the national preoccupation with their sovereign right over the Falklands has never dimmed, Argentina’s treatment of its veterans has been one of the most shameful legacies of the war.

This article was first published in The First Post in May 2007. Click here to read it in full.

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The road to physical perfection leads to Argentina, a country that takes its beautiful people very seriously – so seriously that, in a startling feat of political intervention, one regional government has implemented a law that is forcing the fashion industry to acknowledge that you can be too thin.

Officials wielding tape-measures were unleashed on the glitzy shopping malls of Buenos Aires Province last month to enforce the new “law of sizes”. The legislation, which came into effect in December, stipulates that fashion retailers must stock a full range of clothing sizes for women, roughly equivalent to UK sizes 10-20. Those businesses that don’t comply could be hit with a hefty £95,000 fine or even closure.

According to the provincial government, the law has been passed to break the fashion “tyranny”, imposed by designers and manufacturers, which practically forces women to starve themselves in order to fit into their microscopic clothing. Before the law came into force, those unfortunate shoppers larger than a UK size 10 would struggle to get even an ankle into the skinny jeans and whispers of chiffon that line the racks of the suburbs’ exclusive boutiques.

By passing the law, the local authorities have conveniently offloaded any blame for the “epidemic” of eating disorders sweeping the nation. Argentina now has the second-highest rate of anorexia and bulimia in the world (after Japan), with statistics suggesting that one in ten women suffers from a “slimming disease”.

Not surprisingly, the legislation has created uproar on the fashion scene, which sees it as the kiss of death for creativity and style. One designer suggested that the provincial government wanted everyone to wear Mao jackets, and the fashion industry in general believes that enforcement will lead to the creation of clothes, based on US sizing charts, that customers simply won’t buy.

Click here to read this article, which first appeared in The New Statesman in March 2006

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