As fotografias de João Silva e Emilio Morenatti
‘It’s the Photographer’
This slide show is taken from the memory card that was in Joao Silva’s camera on Oct. 23 when he stepped on an antipersonnel mine at Checkpoint 16, near the village of Deh-e Kuchay, Afghanistan. Mr. Silva, a contract photographer for The New York Times, and Carlotta Gall, a Times correspondent, were on patrol with a squad of 10 or 15 American soldiers and a unit of Afghan soldiers and police officers.
Mr. Silva lost both his legs in the explosion and suffered internal injuries. He is recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The slides are arranged chronologically, with a gap between the last frame Mr. Silva shot before the mine blew up (Slide 11) and the three pictures he was able to take after the blast (Slide 13). There is no picture of the explosion.
A Footstep, Then an Explosion and an Urgent Call: ‘Medic!’
The frontmen set to work checking the roadsides. Pvt. Edwin Laplaunt, 19, swept for mines with a metal detector. Sgt. Brian Maxwell, 28, walked with a sniffer dog. Sgt. Anton Waterman kept watch.
Joao went with them. Then they turned down a side alley and into a ruined compound. I remained on the road with the platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Eric Elizey, and a medic.
Minutes later there was an explosion. A ball of black smoke rose from behind the wall of the compound. “That was not supposed to happen!” Sergeant Elizey shouted as he ran toward the edge of the road. There was silence from the other side of the wall. Then the call went up: “Medic!”
As the medic ran forward, the sergeant shouted to him which way was safe to go. After more minutes of silence, the sergeant radioed for a medevac helicopter. “Give me a name!” he shouted over the wall. “Give me a name!”
The reply came back: “It’s the photographer.”
Hoping to Avoid Bombs and Win Afghan Minds
Patrolling alongside Afghan soldiers and police officers, they scale 10-foot walls to avoid going through gateways, where insurgents are more likely to place booby traps. They cut through cornfields and pomegranate orchards instead of taking the paths, for the same reason.
They rarely take the same route twice, knowing that routine can be a soldier’s deadliest mistake. They can never be sure who is with the Taliban, or who is aiding the insurgents and laying the traps. Sometimes it is villagers or teenagers, just for the money, they suspect.
In some areas outside Kandahar, soldiers have found so many booby traps that they have had to destroy homes and villages rather than risk searching for the bombs. But the destruction is not the norm. Far more common is this kind of relentless patrolling by American forces, who remove mines one by one. As important is getting to know local people and, in time, earning their help and support.
Vuelve Morenatti, el verdadero riesgo es dejar de fotografiar
La fotografía es más que una imagen, debe transmitir información, vida, emociones, igual que un texto. Una foto debe conmover, ser un puñetazo en la mesa, como sostiene Gervasio Sánchez. El iraní Abbas, uno de los más grandes que trabaja para Magnum, dice: “Hago la foto que hay dentro de la foto, la que nadie ve”. Juan Manuel Castro Prieto añade: “Fotos sin pie de foto”. Fotos que hablan.
Con Morenatti de regreso al trabajo más duro pienso en João Silva, el fotógrafo del The New York Times que hace unas semanas perdió sus dos piernas, también en Kandahar, y pienso en Alberto Cairo, el fisioterapeuta italiano que lleva casi 20 años en Kabul al frente del centro de amputados de Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja. Gente como él es la que debería recibir el premio Nobel. Recuerdo una frase suya. “Este hospital no es solo para víctimas de la guerra, es para las víctimas de la ausencia de paz”. Ese es el trabajo de todo periodista. Enhorabuena, Emilio. Gracias por estar.
@lostart e @arnaldo_carvalh também viram João Silva no NY Times.