BUENOS AIRES - Working with precious metals takes time and patience - much like healing the painful wounds of war.
Argentine goldsmith Juan Carlos Pallarols is creating beautiful roses and other pieces of art from bullets, pistols and even parts of airplanes from the Falkland Islands war as a way of promoting peace between his country and Britain. The nations fought a brief but bloody 1982 war after Argentina invaded the South Atlantic archipelago.
The self-proclaimed pacifist is also known for crafting the presidential batons of Argentine presidents and the chalice of Pope Francis. His latest project fuses weapons donated by families of the Argentine and British war dead and is called “two roses for peace.”
“The idea is to transform the material of war into objects of art and peace,” Pallarols told The Associated Press Wednesday at his workshop in Buenos Aires.
Bullets shells of FAL rifles, 9 mm pistols, anti-aircraft ammunitions, and parts of C-130 Hercules and Mirage III airplanes have been melted in an oven at Pallarols' workshop, where the 74-year-old artist turns them into stems and petals of roses paying homage to the war dead.
“The airplane bullets are an excuse,” he said. “What I want is to fuse the hearts and love of the people. I want love to fuse. That will be the real success of all of this.”
In all, the war claimed the lives of 649 Argentines and 255 British soldiers.
Veterans and families of the war dead on both sides have agreed to place one of the roses at a cemetery for Argentine soldiers and another at a cemetery for British soldiers in the Falklands. A third one will be thrown into the ocean inside a heavy lead box so it will sink at the same coordinates where the ``General Belgrano'' Argentine naval ship was sunk by British torpedoes, killing more than 300 of its crew members.
A fourth rose will be taken to Bahia Agradable, or Pleasant Bay, the location of bloody fighting during the war. A last one will remain in the local cemetery of the island in memory of three civilian women killed during the conflict.
‘It's better to be friends’
The Falklands are internally self-governing, but Britain is responsible for defense and foreign affairs. Argentina claims Britain has illegally occupied the islands since 1833. But Britain disputes the claim and says Argentina is ignoring the wishes of the 3,000 residents, who wish to remain British.
During her eight years in power, former President Cristina Fernandez tried to pressure Britain into sovereignty talks by turning away British ships, encouraging companies to divest from Britain and raising other trade barriers. But tensions have eased since pro-business President Mauricio Macri took office last year vowing a less-confrontational stance.
In a surprising breakthrough after decades of strained relations, Argentina and Britain recently agreed to launch a multinational team of forensics experts that will identify the remains of more than 100 Argentine soldiers buried in a cemetery after the war. Both countries also agreed to lift some restrictions on trade and increase the number of flights to the islands.
“We have so many things in common with the [British],” Pallarols said. “If we were to take out everything from Argentina that is influenced by the English, we'd be left very sad; we wouldn't have football, polo, rugby, and rock! It's better to be friends and not fight at all.”