Dying to Tell (2018) - full transcript

"Morir para contar" tells the stories of Spanish war correspondant dead while doing their work.

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In war, a week is
a whole life condensed.

There's no tricks, no masks.

There's excitement, ecstasy.

There's fear,
moral commitment, empathy.

But without denying the essence of life:
Everything's random

and fleeting.

And that's very attractive.

If there's one thing
that surprises me about war

is that it's decided by adults
but fought by kids.


When I'm in Afghanistan,

I'm always surprised
by the youth of the soldiers.

You can tell they don't know the price.

They don't realize
the price they'll pay.

I decided to start Dying To Tell
with them,

with the image of these young soldiers,

because I didn't realize either
the high price I'd pay for this work.

Call it work, vocation,
it's a way of life, a profession.

"We go to war in search of adventures,

but we come back
with a suitcase full of bodies."

Pérez-Reverte wrote it
and I think it stands true.

I didn't know the price I'd pay

in my daily life, in my everyday life.

I didn't know how much of me would die.

How much dies in all of us

to be able to tell the story.


The border with Turkey was closed,

so we resorted to smugglers.

Arms, people smugglers.

We had a fixer,

the person supposedly
in charge of our security.

But we didn't receive that protection.

From start to finish
we moved around in a van

with the fixer's friends.
That didn't bode too well.

We lasted two days,
it could have been less.

The last images of Ángel Sastre, Antonio
Pampliega and José Manuel López.

They entered Syria on the 10th from
Turkey, and were last seen in Aleppo.

Their latest reports...

Sastre is the one I know less.

But I've worked a lot with Antonio.
And López and I...

We studied photography together.


I'm worried and pissed.

We'll get in line to chastise them
when they get them out.

They went in when things were already

very complicated.

The kidnapping of
Antonio and López

was tougher for me
than those of any other colleagues,

because I remember
them taking me out

of Aleppo when I was hurt.

So you feel helpless,
not being able to pay back

the help they gave me.

And not being able to do something
so they could get out.

When I found out they'd kidnapped

Antonio, López, and Sastre,
I got mad at them.

Because we'd already
talked, I'd talked

with Antonio a few weeks earlier,

he said he was going to Syria
and I said he was crazy.

"Don't go, it's suicidal."

You know what happened

to James Foley,

what happened to other colleagues.

These people are on the hunt,
they're targeting us.

My intention

was being embedded
with the White Helmets,

and follow these teams of rescuers

in the hell that is Aleppo.

These people go
from bomb site to bomb site

to look for bodies and survivors
among the rubble.

While we were there

they decapitated Chinese
and Norwegian journalists.


A pregnant German woman

who said goodbye to her husband
at the border

and must have had the child there.

There's 26 journalists

still inside.

I thought I'd be killed or sold,
it's what they were telling me.

I was kidnapped ten months.

Diarrheas are common,
anything related to a lack of hygiene.

Spots, rashes, blemishes.

There were advanced security cameras.

Infrared cameras and all.

You have 160 square feet,
you do what you can.

You write. Exercise was forbidden.

You move in a cross, in a circle.

I blocked any thoughts of my family
so I wouldn't lose heart.

My parents supported me,

they knew I would always get out,
I was a professional.

And I failed them.


That makes me feel very guilty.
No piece of news is worth

the pain I caused my family.

I see my work as solving an equation.

On one side is
the risk I'm taking,

and on the other my results.

If I maximize my results,

minimizing risks,
it's a job better done.

Taking risks is not my job.

In the field you have seconds,
not hours, to decide

which way to go and how.

And sometimes the desire, the impulse

to get there as quick as possible
makes you take big risks,

but sometimes it's just luck.

If this is your profession,

you have to know really well

what you want
and where you're going.

You know the risks you're taking,

and when you go somewhere

you know these things. At least I do.

Even taking

the most responsible
decisions, you might die.

It's a war zone.

And bombs don't ask who's responsible,
if you're a child or an adult.

We were at a hotel
called Spinghar.

It's the name of a mountain

range near Jalalabad, a city

in the east of Afghanistan.

And there was the opportunity,

from Jalalabad, for a certain group
of journalists to go to Kabul.

Julio Fuentes and I said
we weren't going to go to Kabul

because what we were finding for our
chronicles in Jalalabad was fantastic.

But, and Julio never
explained this to me,

the same night plans were made
for that convoy

that was going from Jalalabad to Kabul

he changed his mind
and the next day he said,

"Pepe", that's what he often called me,

"I'm going to Kabul."

We said goodbye.
I clearly remember what he was wearing.

Then they told us
the convoy had been shot down.

The survivors arrive, and Julio Fuentes
was nowhere to be seen.

Have you seen the guys from El Mundo?

No, only seen you and your partner.

I think they've gone through,
but we haven't seen them.

- All you guys from TV3 are okay?
- Yeah, yeah.

We came back when
we saw the drivers

come without
the journalists.

They were shouting in Pashto

to get out of there

because they had seen
with their own eyes

how the journalists they had been
driving were shot.

Julio was my husband.

So the paper called me
that morning

saying something
had happened.

And to go to the paper.

We couldn't reach Julio. And we knew
something had happened on that road.

We were in Kabul

in one of the few available rooms

at a hotel.

We got a mattress
and put it in our room,

expecting Julio.

But the hours went by
and Julio didn't come.

Rumors started to surface
about the killing of journalists,

and slowly anxiety took over.


All the journalists there said,

"We have to agree not to say,

not to mention the word 'death'

until we can confirm
it's Julio Fuentes who has died."

Very early the next morning,

a convoy of Mujahideen went out
and then came back.

When they came back there were sirens,

the Afghan chaos, crowds,

and as soon as I saw Julio,

the coffin that said "Fuentes, Spain",

I called Mónica to tell her.

And then, obviously,

all the grief, sorrow,
and drama settled in.

Sadly, we have to confirm the death
of the special correspondent

of El Mundo to the war in Afghanistan,

Julio Fuentes.

Julio's car was the first in line,

and they were ambushed.

Ambushed by Afghans
who tried to rob them.

I imagine they resisted,

there was a shooting, and they all died,

We were all

in a state of shock.

During conflicts you never think

it'll be someone you know.

He'd been everywhere.

How could he fall in Afghanistan?

I'd been with him in many other places.

In other conflicts. And, suddenly,

you feel orphaned.

You're the survivor.
"Why him and not me?"

Sensibly, whoever picked up the bodies

took them to the Pakistani border,

and that's where
we brought him home from.

I had a personal relationship
with Mónica.

She was like
a daughter to me.

I went with her to the border,
which was...

It was sinister. His bloodied clothes

were on the ground.
They'd cut off one of his fingers

to tear off his ring.

Mónica was remarkable, she was so young.

She was given a parcel and a jacket,

which was obviously Julio's.

Before going on that trip,

the last coffee
he had at the paper

was with me,
and he was very nervous.

He didn't want to go, he was sick.

Julio was tired.

Everybody has their limit.

Some people are lucky
enough to quit

at the right moment,
and others aren't.

Julio Fuentes used to say that

the current job would be his last,

but always unconvincingly.

Throughout our journey,

we've always felt the temptation
of saying,

"I'm done, that's it, I'm retiring."

But immediately afterwards,
when a new opportunity arises

to cover something, we all feel
butterflies in the stomach,

wanting to go as soon as possible.

Julio was like that. And I doubt

that when he said,
"This is my last reporting job",

he really meant it.

I've always liked covering
international conflicts.

And I've always tried to lick my wounds
as best as possible.

My emotional wounds,
the infamous PTSD.

But I won't give it up.

Because this is our life, our career.

And giving up now...

I still haven't lived through something
that makes me decide that.

We had a house in Cantabria
we'd built the year before.

Where Julio wanted to retire one day

to write books.
It was very important to us.

A house which I remembered

because he would draw it
for me on napkins in Bosnia.

He was obsessed with drawing
his house at Potes.

I was sick and tired of it.

What I didn't know is that,
a few years later,

we'd scatter his ashes there.

He was partially deaf.

He was injured during a war,
he became deaf

from an exploding shell.

Some conversations were surreal
because he didn't hear you.

He'd respond to something else,

and you'd say,
"Julio, what are you talking about?"

Julio was funny, his deafness made him

seem mean, he was always going "What?"

But no, he was really

nice and endearing.

He was a good guy, a fighter.

He fought to get the news
with true bravery.

A year after his death
I had the chance to go to Afghanistan.

I spoke with the judge
in charge of his case in Kabul.

He said, "I promise

we'll find him, them,
and we'll kill them in your name."

I said, "It's not about killing them.
It's about them not killing others."


Death penalty doesn't solve a thing.

There comes a time when your work is
your most important weapon.

If you're seeing so many people die

or get hurt, it's not strange
for it to happen to you or a friend.

It would be strange if it didn't.

I lost one person.

I know families
that have lost 14 members.

Before a trip there's always
a lot of noise.

Lots of planning, visas, equipment,

so many things.

But once at the airport,

once in the plane, you always feel

you're in a parallel reality
to other people's.

Wars usually start in summer
and everybody

is going on holiday while you

go with a camera, a bulletproof vest,

and everything is really strange.

Making decisions during a war
isn't the same as making them at home.

When you decide to cross a border,
enter a country

or follow a story,
making decisions is always

like tossing a coin
and waiting to see where it lands.

I remember Somalia,

constantly making decisions.
"Should we go

to Bakaara market or not?

Should we go to the front or not?"

That's a constant stress.

Anything can happen at any moment.

There's a free for all of misfortunes.


The beginning of every trip,

every decision,

takes me back to my family.

Above all my mother, because of
the pain I can inflict on her.

On someone
who loves me unconditionally, like her.

Losing a child is
the most traumatic experience.

And this is something

selfish, this vocation.

Well, we were in the
Ancient Town of Aleppo

with a group of the Syrian Free Army

which was trying
to attack a sniper post

of Al-Assad's army.

And once we supposed we were close
to the sniper post,

they were going to throw hand grenades.

One of the fighters took a grenade

and instead of throwing it, he kept it.

I don't know exactly what happened.

And he was blown to pieces.

When I got up and saw
I'd been hit by the shrapnel,

all I could think about

were my kids and the fact

that I'd be fucking them up
if I didn't get out of there.

When it happened I thought...

I can't quite understand
how Roberto is still alive.


The shrapnel didn't...

It didn't severe any arteries.

He was so lucky.

Because we had problems
to get a ambulance there.

Of course, the Spanish embassy...

Sometimes they don't want to intervene.

If it weren't for the comradeship
of some people...

...he wouldn't be alive to tell it.


I was bedridden

for a month, a month and a half,
and I knew the first thing I had to do

was return to Syria,
experience a similar experience,

and see if I could stand it or not.

At home, my family didn't say a word,
not even my mother,

They all knew I'd go back.

If someone deserves a prize,

one of those war
correspondent prizes,

it's not us but our families.

They've had to suffer it 24/7.

They think we're
permanently endangered,

not only when
we're stopped

at gun point at
a check point,

and those
ten seconds are

the only critical moment
of the day.

From home they experience it...
It's a bad experience.

Knowing your son is,
I don't know, in Aleppo,

where 20 barrel bombs
and scuds fall every day

and there are shots being fired,

and you see 300 deaths in the news.

You know your son isn't the 301st
because the picture is his.

But until you see that...

I've been lucky in my life

in the sense that those
who've loved me

have done so
in the most beautiful

and radical way possible,
wanting me to be free.

They wanted me to be free.

Even though that has meant,
for my parents,

for my brother, for my friends,

of course for my wife,

the possibility
of receiving a call saying,

"David won't be coming back."

You have to understand
that's a possibility.

It's not just a figure of speech.

Obviously my family has suffered a lot.

Regarding my partners,

there's been all sorts.
Although I've broken up

relationships because when they said,

"Why don't we retire and do gardening?",

I'd think, "Between retiring
and doing gardening

or having the whole world
at my doorstep..."

I can't live with someone

who doesn't understand my work.

Leaving your family at home

is one of the hardest things to do.

For many years I've missed

my kids' childhood,
daily contact with them, everyday life.

Sometimes you only see them
every few months.

And at that age they change.

They change almost hourly.

I hope my kids have an example

of a certain way of life.

I want to teach them
that everybody is important,

whether they're Spanish or Syrian.
And that...

you shouldn't stop going to Syria
because it's dangerous.

Because you're Spanish.

And you have a family and your bubble
is the most important thing.

I want them to know their father

thinks there's a series of values,

giving voice to Syrians, for example,

and that he's willing to go there
even if it's harder.

Javier Espinosa,
correspondent for El Mundo,

and the freelance photographer
Ricardo García Vilanova

were kidnapped September 16th
in the north of Syria

trying to leave the country
at the Turkish border.

I was

preparing a trip into Syria

with a visa from Damascus,

when I found out he'd been kidnapped.

That was a shock.

Going through that process and seeing
your colleague had been kidnapped,


When Javier disappeared
and we lost touch

with him for days,

we began to worry

more every day.

I was in constant contact with Mónica

because she took charge
of the situation immediately.

I'm Mónica Prieto,
and I'm Javier Espinosa's partner.

We've taken in fleeing civilians,
we've defended your liberty as our own.

Javier and Ricardo aren't your enemies.

Please honor the revolution
they protected,

and set them free. Thank you.

The family spokesman
and the paper's director say

the kidnappers
haven't asked for anything,

and that both men were doing fine
a month ago.

I still remember the day Tony,
Javier's father, called me

to ask me
to be their spokesman.

I realized it would be
tough on me too,

it was a hard choice,
but I couldn't say no.

What the kidnappers
of over 30 journalists,

18 of them foreigners, have achieved,

is that covering the news from Syria
becomes increasingly impossible.

I set up a strategy
that turned out really well.

It wasn't an obvious choice.

I asked Mónica

not to tell me what I couldn't say.

Things happened that were a bit

odd or even painful.
Colleagues who

demanded, "You have to tell me."

"I'm also a friend
of Monica and Javier."

"You think only you know things?"

My reaction was, "Please,

you can take this whole experience,
I wish it were you instead of me.

So you could really know

how a situation like this
wears you down."




When Christmas came,

things were awful.

And, also, I needed...

I couldn't sit down to Christmas dinner
without speaking to Mónica,

to Javier's parents,
and to Ricardo's parents.


One of my last memories as a director

was the sad Christmas Eve
we were missing Javier.

We had the feeling

maybe he'd call that day.

It didn't happen then, it was later.

But when

he was freed, it was a wonderful day.

I went with Mónica to pick up his kids,

we all went to the airport
and the hug

between Mónica, Javier, and the kids

was one of those moments
of complete happiness.

She had started a new life

with Javier, and it was a bit

like the triumph of life

over misfortune.

I'm so happy to see
all four of you here!


Obviously, when you become a parent

your views change completely.

In a positive way.

I always tell the same anecdote.

When I came back from being kidnapped,
all they did...

Because Mónica did a great job there
with the kids,

all they said was, "Let's play
guards and prisoners."

So we started playing prison,

as if it were the most fun thing
in the world!

It was great

because it meant coming back to reality.

To the tangible,
and not your made-up stories.

So, if we have to find a way

for journalists

not to have traumas,
let them have kids and face

playing ball, making breakfast,

and forget about
their obsessive stories.

Mónica, as well as being
a great journalist,

is a very brave woman.

After the murder of Julio Fuentes,
that personal tragedy for her,

she ended up marrying
another journalist, Javier,

and is still a strong woman,

and that's extremely brave.

I have great fondness for Mónica.

She's a brave woman.

During Javier's kidnapping she said,

"I can't be devastated,
I've got two kids.

That's the important thing.

With their father gone,

I have to be their mother and father,
I can't crack."

That's pure strength.

The most frightening thing
about a war...

Or what I was taught about wars

is that you should fear large crowds.

You should avoid crowds.

They always say that.

Against one man you can reason,
against two you can fight.

Against a thousand
you can't do anything.

You could get lynched, I've seen it.

I've lived in large cities,

in Kolkata, in Buenos Aires.

And now I need to
live in nature.

It's hard for me to face crowds,
I feel anxious.

They awaken that state of alert

which I now associate
with trauma and pain.

Joseph Kony was a madman
who kidnapped boys to turn them

into soldiers and girls
into sexual slaves just because.

There was no basis for it,
not religious,

not political.

For me, Kony is

the perfect example

of the absurdity of war.

When I arrived in Sudan

in 2009, after five years
of following Kony around Africa,

I see that the Sudanese soldiers
who should be doing something

to defend civilians against Kony,

spent their time smoking joints.

It was a party, a nonsensical party.

So the local youth,

enthusiastically but recklessly,
got hold of weapons.

They were called the Arrow Boys.

They used bows and arrows.

They grabbed their grandparent's weapons

and went out to hunt Joseph Kony
and his men.

War is very nocturnal.
The darkness, the fear.

Especially in Africa,
where there's no light.

I associate the night with fear,
with Africa.

With Kony.

I feel very helpless now
when I go out at night.

I guess that's why.

And because at night we're really alone.

It's the moment I feel most
like a child.

When all the ghosts come to visit.

Fear is necessary. Without it, we'd die
the first day at a conflict zone.

It's a fear you must learn
to control

and to ration.
You have to learn to live with it.

So you can go about your daily work
in a war.

I feel the fear at night.

When you go to bed,
when you're resting.

It's like a jackhammer hitting
your head,

which starts to hurt,
and you don't know why, but it's fear.

The Palestine called me
Eric "Majnun", "Crazy Eric".

Because I wasn't afraid.
And that isn't good either.

Because fear is what helps you know

if you have to take the next step.

Being afraid is human

and makes you cautious.

And since I was never afraid,
that posed a problem.

The best security weapon

in Afghanistan was going unnoticed.

Being like any Afghan.

And I've always had fear
in the back of my mind.

The fear of a possible...

A possible raping.

I've lived in Egypt,

and there I suffered
daily sexual aggressions.

The daily occurrence doesn't make it
less important

nor do you get used to it.

Anyway, it's something
you can't control.


When it happens, it happens,
and, well...

You do your best, obviously, but...

I always say I'm a scaredy-cat.

I'm not brave.
I've never been brave.

But I think fear is necessary.

Even more,

I try to know...

When I work with someone,

I make sure they're afraid.

Fear is a defense mechanism

that tells you, "You shouldn't be here".

And if it doesn't work,

there's something deeply wrong.
Nobody should reach that point.

In the year 1993-94, Miguel
told me he was the eldest brother

and did I need him? I said I didn't.

So he took his bike
and his typewriter and left.

That was his start in life's journey.

At that time I was covering
the Balkan war for Spanish television.

And there came up
this character,

there's no other way to put it,

who had arrived by bike from Barcelona.

He told us his story.

He was a lawyer
who was very interested

in seeing the events
in the former Yugoslavia,

so he went over there.

He didn't really know what to do,

so I told him, "Listen, one way of
seeing the conflict is as a journalist.

You can stay here reporting
and explaining things."

This is so my mom can see
Sarajevo isn't dangerous.

That's the Holiday Inn.

That's a UN tank.

My friend Chenga. And Sabina.

When his holidays were over

he got on his bike
and went back to Barcelona.

And 15 days later or so,

a month tops,

he was back.

And he started to learn.

He was a journalist starting off

in the war

with credentials
from a motorcycle magazine.

He was the first one to cross mount
Igman on his bike, and all of us

at the press center cheered.

He worked as an APTN producer,

in charge of transporting equipment
to the more complex zones,

into Sarajevo through mount Igman.

Not only did he get in,

he also got out the same way,
and back in.

couldn't believe it.

Italian bastard!

- Sorry?
- Italian bastard.

One day, the cameraman
for AP was sick

and they asked, "Can you operate a
camera?" He said, "No problem."

He ran to the Reuters guy,
"How the fuck do I do it?"

He didn't say "fuck",
Miguel never swore.

They taught him to operate it,

and a guy who didn't know
how to operate a camera

became a fantastic cameraman.

He learned to operate the camera
in '95, '94 in Sarajevo.

And he became
an indispensable journalist.

He was a born cameraman,
he did pure documentary work,

showing the facts with all his passion

and with all the rawness
of war's violence.

He arrived without a thing.

No food, no money, nothing.

Whenever he got food,
he'd share it with those

in need. He was great person,

one of the best I've known.

The image from Miguel I'll never forget

is the train station at Pristina.

The trains that reminded us

what had happened with

the deportation of Jews
and other minorities

during World War II.

Serbs were already starting

the ethnic cleansing,

and he was the only one
who had these images.

He very deservedly received

the most prestigious award

for freelance cameramen.

Sarajevo was his
peak moment,

where he saw
what war was.

And what
he could do.

But Africa gripped his heart.

Rwanda was very emotional for him.

like many journalists,

realized there are so many
stories in Africa:

War, genocide, famine.

And that, for whatever reason,
Africa doesn't get

as much attention as other places.

Those people didn't have a voice.

Miguel was very tired
when he left for Sierra Leone.

The last time I spoke with him I said,
"Sierra Leone scares me.

Be careful.
If you get killed, you won't eat."

The Monday before his death,
he died on a Wednesday,

that Monday we had dinner together
at a Freetown restaurant.

Gervasio Sánchez, Javier Espinosa,

Miguel and myself.

We saw each other in Sierra Leone
two days before

he was killed,
we went to the same...

We went to the crossing
where he was killed.

And we found dozens
of UN soldier's bodies.

They were just bones by then.

With UN uniforms,
scattered throughout the jungle.

There were 100 to 200 bodies.

And he systematically picked up

all the IDs from the bodies we found.

It was a human impulse,

so the families of the dead

knew where they had been killed.

Two days later, 200 meters
from there, he was killed.


Of everything I've lived through,
the worst was identifying the body

of a friend,
of a colleague, knowing

it was a miracle you weren't
with him when it happened.

He'd invited me to come with him,
and I said no

because I had other work to do.

Knowing that if I had gone with him,

maybe he'd be the one identifying me.

You have to act as family,

to make sure they treated the bodies
of the two dead journalists

with the dignity they deserved.

That day I didn't feel
like a journalist,

or like Miguel's friend,
I felt I was his closest relative.

Around six or seven months later
Gervasio told me,

"Today I've dreamt about Miguel alive."

All those months he'd been dreaming
about Miguel at the morgue.

Miguel was very brave

and his perspective was always
that of the people.

There's a picture Santi Lyon
took of him in Kosovo,

where you see a militiaman

and Miguel behind him, camera in hand.

Always a person's perspective.

When I see that picture,

I think about all correspondents
throughout history

who have risked their lives,

who have shed their lives in many cases.

And it's a symbol of the power
of journalism.

Miguel is a good example

for young journalists
who want to do things.

It's very easy,
just go ahead and do it.

It's turning.

There it is. It's scary, isn't it?

- Can you see it?
- Perfectly. You can see it perfectly.

Don't you see it?

Oh, yeah, it's a big one.

This one's big.

It's armed. It's a missile launcher.

That's why it's so scary.


In 2014, havoc is wreaked
upon Gaza once again.

It's absurd, meaningless,
against civilians.

Once again,
like in 2006, 2008, 2010.

Against people
who are already displaced,

who are forced to live behind walls,

and on top of that are being bombed.
People who suffer a blockade.

Illegal, inhumane and shameful.

At Al Shifa hospital, which in war

under-performs because there's a lack
of electricity, of medicines,

there are doctors
who are the heroes of this story.

The hospital starts to fill up
with children,

with old people, with amputees.

Maria was at home
with her mother and her sisters

when an shell came through the window

and killed all of them except Maria.

There was also Jair Al Magari

a dumb-deaf person who didn't hear

the helicopter which launched
the missile,

so he didn't run
and the shrapnel tore off...

both his arms and legs.

He was very tall,
he was a basketball player.

When he went into surgery
there was very little left of him.

Half of him.

Rada was left paralyzed by a missile

from head to toe.

When I went into that room

all I could do was cry.

Seeing such a beautiful child...

Who could only speak with her eyes.

I had to leave because
it wasn't fair for her to see me cry.

Seeing me cry would be like
looking into a terrible mirror.

The anguish of imagining myself
in a body

you can't move, except for your eyes.

Nobody deserves that.

For some fucking land.

What you hope for,
recording these people,

is that the world reacts.

And puts an end to all the nonsense.

Those people come back with me
to Madrid.

I have to cut and edit the images.

They're in my computers,
in my hard drives.

They're in my heart, of course.

And in my soul.

And, well, sometimes
they come back to haunt me.

And they sadden and depress me.

So I try not to think about it.

Manuel Varela de Seijas,
known as Manu Brabo,

could be freed in the next few hours.

I'm good, I'm fine. I'm doing great.

I'm in good health,

and happy,
they're giving me my passport.

Everything seems to go ahead,
I'm fine.

There's still a friend in Asturias who
calls me the hostage when she sees me.

Everybody knows you.

It's awkward and it changes...
Even at the football stadium

they were wearing t-shirts
with my name.

All of that makes you think,

"What the fuck did I do
except fuck up big time?"

All I did was fuck up.
What's all this about?"

Yesterday I was online and...

And I can't believe what I saw.
I don't know how to thank people

or when I'll fucking deserve
all of this.

I had to learn to manage
the person I'd become

in those 44 days,

which had nothing to do with who I was.

There was a huge imbalance there.

You feel like a Martian
when you're out with friends.

They're normal, I've known them forever.


And it's really hard having
a normal conversation

about whatever, about my football team.

About women.

What happens

is you start drifting

and there comes a time

when you feel completely apart.

People don't always understand.

Girlfriends leave you
because they don't understand it.

Friends... A lot of people do
appreciate what you do

and think you're brave,
but sometimes I feel very lonely.

When I come back
I feel lonely.

You need company.

And friends,
when you come back,

say, "Tell me how it went."

It's a rhetorical question,
they don't really care.

And you have no words
to tell how it went.

You're just back, you have no words.

When the words come,
a few weeks later, maybe a month,

nobody cares what you say.

I came back from
my first war,

my first serious war,
the Iraq invasion, in 2003,

and I looked at people

with hubris and saying,

"Haven't you heard what's happened?
Haven't you read me?

How can your lives go on
exactly the same?"

It's not easy putting up with us.

And mainly we're
not simple and easy...

Anything but simple.

We're not easy to live with
between wars.

That's why there are so many divorces

and separations in our profession.

I've been married four times.

When you've just got back,

you're in a limbo
and you need to adjust.

Readjust to normal life.

Go to the supermarket,
get on the underground.

That's hard to do the following day.

There's a psychological concept called

threshold of excitement.

It's the amount of impulses
your brain needs



Obviously, during a conflict

that threshold goes really high.

And then you come home

and you have to live down there.

So you think, "How do I do this?"

That's why there's a common phenomenon

that only those who've lived it

People think, "How can they have
such a hard time here?"

It happens because it takes a long time

to reconnect with simple things.

And some people never manage to do it.

You have to decompress.

You can't get home like...

And say, "Hi, honey."

No, because they'd freak out. I mean...

We can't force that on them
on top of our job and the fear.

You can't force your brainfuck
on the people you love.

We're already forcing so much on them.

We disguise it as passion.
"It's my passion.

I have to do it."

But we're forcing
something really tough on them.

In 2012 I returned to Afghanistan

to report on bomb-disposal officers.

And when I got in
that armored vehicle,

on a mission looking for
three new explosives,

I suddenly felt I was dying,
I couldn't breathe.

I thought I'd die right there.

I started calling out for help,
but the people

who were there didn't understand it.

I took off my vest,

I put down the cameras,
I took off my glasses,

the anti-fragmentation glasses,
my helmet, and I couldn't breathe.

I ended pushing everybody,

I hit the door, they let me out,

I threw myself on the ground
and I started breathing.

I later understood it had been
a panic attack.

Other people's pain and tragedies
had added up,

it was like a glass that had filled up

and overflowed.

I didn't see it coming. It exploded

without warning.

Back in Madrid
I couldn't go to a restaurant,

I couldn't get on a plane,

I couldn't get in a closed car.

Everything had to be open,
I had to feel the wind, see the light.

My head created antibodies

against closed spaces.

Some days living here is very hard.

Some days I'd rather
not live any longer.

Leave everything.

I can't go back there or be here.

Some days I'd rather...

I wasn't alive.

They asked for our clothing sizes.
We already had some,

but more like pajamas.

So when they brought tracksuits
and sneakers

we knew we would be moving.

They took some pictures of us.

The problem was we didn't know
where we were going.

That's when we felt moving was imminent.

Up to then, even in the car, I thought

I was done for.
But when they take off the blindfold

and you see how things will pan out,

I started crying.

I was in cuffs, surrounded by ten armed
guys, but I thought I was out.

Then you get into an Armed Forces plane
and everything changes.

There were doctors, psychologists,
there was ham.

We cut our hair off with some scissors,

we hadn't cut it off in a year.
Or shaved.

From the plane I looked for my mom,

she was the one that worried me most,
but she was a champ.

I'm very proud of my parents,

they rose to the occasion
and proved to be unthinkably strong.

I'm in treatment,

but trying not to have it affect
my life, what I want to do.

I'm doing it as best as I can,

and medicated, obviously.

We're here, seeing

people in the middle
of the bombings and shootings

trying to cross the river, desperate,

after coming
from the other front we were at.

Sometimes you think you're okay,

but you come home and you wake up

all nervous.

With panic attacks.

Sharp pain in the chest.

Palpitations, tachycardia.

We're in the middle of a shooting.

We've been cornered unexpectedly

by the Islamic State,
this area was safe a few minutes ago.

We're trapped between snipers.

There's dangerous shelling,
and they're returning from the river.

You can't leave this job Scot-free,

you can't just go home
with your experiences and that's it.

There's an emotional price to pay.

You can't sleep at night.

Or you wake up screaming,
or dreaming

with constant repetitions of a scene,
like a football match replay.

But it's a death match.

Your hair falls.

After a while you realize
that's the small print in the contract.

You'll live through shit and take it.

And this will have an effect
on whatever.

Nightmares, trembling,
personal relationships.

If we don't talk about it among us,

among the people in the know,

who are you going to talk with?

With Paco, the greengrocer?

A Canadian psychiatrist
or psychologist

did some research
only on English speaking journalists,

and concluded that 25%

of war correspondents have PTSD.

The Afghan Public Protection Force

is in charge now of road safety

in this stretch of road.

I returned to Spain in October


because I was tired
of being in Afghanistan.

And I was diagnosed with a depression.

It was as if all the exhaustion
I'd built up

during the almost eight years
I spent there

revealed itself at once.

I was worn out.

I felt...

Exhausted, as if I'd been
run over by a truck.

In the year '94 or '95,
also in Liberia...

After really tough experiences
of human nature,

the immense terror and violence
of war,

my wife and I decided

to have a kid.

She couldn't conceive,

and after the whole year

of treatments,

maybe two weeks later,
three weeks, my wife got pregnant.

What I've learned after all this time

is that all of it will
always live with me.


What makes no sense

is me going somewhere to do my job

because I want those people

to have the chance of a normal life,
while I refuse

to have that normal life
when I go back home.

Sure, there's trauma.

You must understand
that your experience

in these situations has a price
and has effects.

But, most of all,

the effect is like...

It's like a glass filling up with drops

and ends up overflowing.
You don't know why.

Most times you just have to

remember you need help.
Someone has to remind you

that maybe there's a price to pay
for what you've gone through.

Journalists often
don't allow themselves that.

We feel it's obscene
to talk about our pain

with what we've seen of other's pain.

That's why we refuse
to recognize our pain

and we consider it bullshit.

But it's real pain.
And there's no small pain.

Pain is like a gas.

No matter how small,
it'll take up all available space.

It's that simple.
If I lose an arm, you can see it.

But if I'm losing my soul...

help me get it back.

That's a hookah they've given me.

It's quite big as you can see.

And we have to light it now.

Although bonding always happens, Iraq

was special for Spanish

we spent many months there.

We shared so many moments.

We'd seen death, blood,

injured children.

When we got together we just wanted

to try and forget.
It was hard, but we tried.

In fact we also tried to have fun.

- Did you make it?
- Yeah.

In between one press conference
and the next.

Without those breaks,
it would be impossible

for a journalist to cover a conflict
like that.

One, two...

We always helped each other,

we exchanged information.
And that, throughout those months,

created a very special relationship.

With José Couso as well, of course.

We've spent the day working.

And we haven't been able to sleep.

We've been to a press conference
this afternoon,

we've gone back to the hotel,
we've prepared.

Jon's live connection.

We've fixed the equipment, cleaned it.

And now, after this broadcast,

we'll go get some sleep
because we really need it.

José, you're an old hand at this,
how's the spirit?

We're fine, yeah, although
we've had some scares.

Yesterday we didn't sleep, they've been

bombing Baghdad non-stop for eight days.

At least 30 missiles have fallen

in the last two minutes.
All official buildings

we can see from
here have been hit.

From here we can feel the explosions,
they're shaking the hotel.

I don't know if you can hear

the noise, that's happening
barely 300 meters from us.

Some people left,
a producer left.

Jon decided to stay

but José only had
to stay if he wanted.

I remember José saying,
"We have to stay, Carlos.

We have to be here to tell what happens,
we can't leave.

Without witnesses,
this will be even worse

than if we stay here bearing witness

to the crimes, the deaths,
to whatever happens in this war."

Everything was going
reasonably well.

The offensive on Baghdad would begin
on the following day,

I called them and said,

"I don't want you to go out
on the street because from tomorrow

the city is no longer under control."

The safest place was

the Hotel Palestine, a Baghdad hotel

that stood out clearly on the horizon.

And the authorities all knew

that the international press
was holed up at the hotel.

From dawn there were already two tanks

on a bridge over the river Tigris.

Tanks we recorded all that morning.

From the balconies of the hotel.

They turned their turrets and fired

against the hotel.

We thought it was just an explosion, but
they started shouting in the corridor.

We opened the door and saw

something had happened
in Reuters' room.

Fucking bastards!

Taras Protsyuk was lying
on the floor, alive but unconscious,

next to a torn up window.

Paul, his colleague from Reuters
had a bloodied face.

He was asking for help.

I must confess I felt helpless.

I didn't know what to do.

I hadn't done first aid training,
and I should have.

Until an hour and a half later

I didn't find out
that Couso was injured.

Stay awake, okay?

I ran towards José on all fours,
crawling, because I thought

a second shell could hit.
I poured water over him

to clean off the blood
and see his wounds,

and see if there was something
apart from his torn-off leg.

Don't worry, we're here.

He said, "Why did the tank shoot at us?

Where are you taking me?
What's happening?

Are they recording this or not?

Don't let my family see this, my kids."

An unknown Iraqi gentleman
to whom I'll be eternally grateful,

offered his car, an old Soviet Lada,

and we managed to put José inside.

I told him it had to be
like in the movies.

He couldn't fall asleep
and should talk all the time

so he'd arrive
at the hospital wide awake.

They got in a car
and rushed out of there.

We immediately got together,
all the journalists,

absolutely overwhelmed.

Then we left for the hospital.

It was a long and dramatic wait
at the hospital.

They'd amputated his leg
almost at the hip.

He'd lost a lot of blood,
he was very pale.

And he seemed to be dying.

The doctors said
he could come out of it

if he survived the first hour,

the first, critical, 24 hours.

He'd lost a lot of blood,
the hospital was barely equipped.

And I think elsewhere
he would have probably survived.

Yesterday I opened the news
saying it was a very sad day.

Journalist Julio Anguita
Parrado had died.

If I may, today is even sadder
for all of us who work here.

José Couso, a member of this channel's
news team in Baghdad has died.

I didn't want to cry during the news.

I didn't want to cry, I wanted to tell

what had happened, and to tell it

absolutely in control. So people
could realize what had happened.

The Americans have killed him.

They fired against the hotel
where the press stays.

He was injured
and didn't survive surgery.

By his side, the face of our news
team in Baghdad, Jon Sistiaga.

Jon, how are you?

Well, we're devastated.

Like you, I guess,

and like all of our colleagues
reporting from here,

from Baghdad.

I remember that during that week
no one was ever alone.

We didn't want to be alone.

Most of all we tried to help
Jon Sistiaga, José's partner,

so he wouldn't have
to find himself alone

going through the sad event
over and over again.

I'm certain the comradery
we've felt these past couple of days

has increased even more.
I'm here broadcasting live,

but as you know, my good friend
Carlos Hernández from Antena 3

was willing to do it for me,
I have him by my side

just in case I couldn't stand it.

I clearly remember
the moment Àngels Barceló

from Telecinco let me speak.

Introducing me as a journalist
from a competing channel.

But that day there was no competition,
we wanted to tell what had happened.

It was a huge blow. First, because
Julio Anguita had died the day before.

It was too soon. And second,

because it was an attack
against the hotel.

That's an attack against

an international convention that states

that journalists, civilians, and
humanitarians should not be attacked.

José Couso's death was
the biggest shock,

the most moving, the most painful thing

that has happened to me personally.

Friendship-wise, not professionally.

His death

was doubly painful.

Because we had lost him,
but mainly because

we already knew then
he had been murdered.

Either the American Government
or its Army

had decided to silence the international
press working from Baghdad.

What hurt the most was
that my Government

said, "Everybody knows

war correspondents assume risks."

I believe we didn't deserve
that response.

No to war!

No to war!

José Couso's death was
a collective trauma.

Not only for journalists,

but for the whole of Spanish society,

he represented all the victims.

All the victims of a war people knew

was an illegal and unfair war.

I'll always feel the weight
of José's death as his boss.

It'll be with me all my life.

José coming back alive was
more important

than all the work they could do.

Much more important.

It's not worth it.
It's not worth losing a colleague

for all the information we've produced.

José Couso wasn't reckless or suicidal.

He wasn't after fame or money.

And because he was responsible,

both personally and professionally,

he wanted to be there
to show it with his camera,

to become our eyes.

Today he's also our heart.


It's tough.

What's tough for people like us

is compiling a calendar

that doesn't have

your brothers' birthdays on it,

or your closest friends'.

It's a calendar with your dead friends.

I feel that honoring
those who have

lost their lives doing this job

is absolutely necessary.

So we can at least feel

comfortable in this profession,
in which it's increasingly

harder for your eyes

to be society's eyes.

We have a job

which is very useful for society.

Which can or should be able
to help avoid.

History repeating itself, unfortunately.

And it's our best weapon,
we should hold on to it.

We're useful, we serve a purpose.

I think it's worthwhile

taking risks to tell what's happening

in the world.
The world wouldn't progress otherwise.

If right now we eliminate

from our brains all the pictures,

videos and information received

about events beyond
our neighborhood or our city,

the world wouldn't be the same.

Many pay with their lives,

or with their health or whatever,

but that's part and parcel of the job.

If I were 20 years old right now,
and not 61,

I'd study journalism again,
I'd do it exactly the same.

I think it's a profession
with a very promising future.

But it's up to us.

Telling other people's stories
is one of the oldest professions.

Information, talking about other people,
is essential

to our understanding of each other.

We not only cross bridges,

we build bridges, not walls.

Being a correspondent allows you
to witness History first hand.

That's why I became a reporter,
I'm fascinated by History.

I'm fascinated by witnessing it,
not studying it in books.

And because, in this line of work,

you see so many disasters
and catastrophes

that you understand your privilege.

I always tell my kids the same thing,

"Opening the tap and getting
water isn't normal.

What's normal is the opposite.

Turning a switch on
and having light isn't normal.

It's the opposite. You're privileged."

I do think it's worthwhile.
Very much so.

And it's worthwhile...

For the conversations.

When those people do you the honor,

when you have the privilege

of having them tell you

part of their experience,
when they decide...

When you're given that privilege,

it's almost mystical.

It's full of truth and...


And when that happens,

it justifies almost everything else.


It links with all the questions I have

and that keep me watchful in this world.

Who are you? Who am I?

Why do you do what you do?
Why am I here?

If I didn't feel the victims' pain,

I wouldn't go back to those places.

The day I don't feel that pain inside,

that shock inside, I won't go.

I haven't lost anything somewhere
terrible things happen.

In fact, the only way

I can transmit things honestly,


without flaws, is feeling that pain.

Terence said,

"I'm human. And I think
nothing human is alien to me."

After having had the privilege

of interviewing and listening
to people I admire,

I'm very grateful
for everybody's generosity.

I hope this helps the youth
that dreams of going to a war,

and who experience it
with the same naivety I did,

are aware of things.
They should do it.

Each of us has a road to follow.

We have to follow it and pay the price
without complaining

about the cost, because it's what we
want to do and choose to do.

But they should be aware
there's a price to pay.

High or low, but there's a price.

Turning 45 has been a blow for me.

I can't continue with my work.

And I'll miss it, I miss it.

Because I don't have another plan.

I don't have the kids I wanted or...

I haven't found a passion as great.


War also shows us people's best side.

Human nature's best side.

Grandparents helping
their grandchildren,

neighbors helping each other,
aid workers.

In an armed conflict
you also see people's best side.

That's what keeps hope alive.

Those moments at the Gulu refugee camp
with kids playing,

making up instruments with plastics.

Kids who've had to leave everything
because of war, because of Joseph Kony.

But they play.

Somehow they're happy and able,

among the horror,

of disengaging and keep on believing,
and keep on playing.

Being witness to that

for me is also a privilege.

It's an inspiration.
If they can play.