January 21, 2021

«There is no greater suffering than war»

«There is no greater suffering than war»


Some say that the war reporters of now play even more life than before. It is not that they forget their bulletproof vest or that they are closer to the places of conflict, they are now alone. They no longer have the backing of the media and have to sell the images dodging bombs and recording the horror of death, at 45 euros a piece. Before, they did not become rich either, but at least they traveled supported. Although in reality many have been "freelancers" always, so they were also alone in some way. Or, rather, accompanied by their desire to live. Why, beyond the myth of tobacco and alcohol, they are addicted to life. Hernán Zin, war reporter and author of a magnificent documentary that discovers the pain of journalists who return with memory to conflict zones, «Die to tell», also it is, like all, but in its way.

«Mine is sport; It is not that I want to do Mother Teresa, but like others drink or smoke and I think it's great, I'm crazy about kite and snow. I play sports every day, it is what keeps my head, where I channel, when I do not think about anything and I forget the war, the victims and everything. It is my therapy. But I like life too. I guess because we see so many deaths, we are very much of life, of living ». Maybe that's why one day he heard a "click" in the brain and the accumulated fear spread through his veins. It was the germ of this documentary: «In 2102, being in Afghanistan for Canal Plus, I suffer a panic attack in an armored vehicle. Suddenly my head said "enough" and my life changed. It was as if my brain created antibodies for small places, I could not be in a small plane, or in a trench … From that moment my life changed and I wanted to ask myself if other colleagues had the same thing and what they had done to solve it ». From there he began to question his colleagues, starting with Gervasio Sánchez and David Beriain, and discovered that everyone was going through the same thing. It was post-traumatic stress. Something that is included in the profession. "That was the starting point. And the second, to know that in Spain, my adopted land, there have been great reporters and they are not valued very much. There are two Pulitzer prizes, as many World Press Photo, as many people as Gervasio, Ramón Lobo, Javier Espinosa or so many others to pay tribute to them ».

Let the skin

That collective catharsis of the correspondents that is collected in "Dying to tell" must have also served Hernán himself to review the reason why he risked his life a thousand times.. Some people say that it is pure vocation, but "I did not ask anyone that, so I can only talk about myself. The cliché is that it has to do with adrenaline, but one for adrenaline makes paragliding, right? I've had a lot of luck in life. I have a wonderful family, some studies, it seemed to me that it was a bit my duty to give voice to people who had not had the same opportunity. That is what called me, the suffering of others. And there is no greater suffering than war ». People who suffer and want reporters to tell what happens to them, although sometimes they leave their skin to transfer a story that goes unnoticed: "People thank you for listening to them; then the impact of the work is out of our hands. I've done things that I thought were going to be a hit, like when I was interviewing women raped in the war for three years, which happened without pain or glory. But it's nice to be there to help, because we see the worst of the human condition, but also the best and that gives you a lot of hope ».

Now that he talks about rapes, I ask him, knowing that among his documentaries there is one about them ("The war against women"), if having a woman as a companion in the war does not duplicate the risks. After all, women are always the object of several wars, in addition to the one that is waged … "I do not believe it; Having a woman next door opens many doors. Even for the interest it awakens in a world of men. I have never felt uncomfortable about working with one; on the contrary, I arouse admiration and see them at some point stronger than us. They have an inspiring courage ».

Sometimes courage is also in those who wait for those who go to war: "That's why I always thought that the worst thing that could happen to me was that they kidnapped me. If they kill you, the pain of your people ends there, but the anguish of a kidnapping … I think it is very hard also for the kidnapper, who thinks that his family is waiting for him ». The fear of the reporter always seems more for the others than for himself. Therefore, many do not have children and always owe something to their mothers: "I have not had children because it seemed very selfish to go to war with children at home. Now the problem is that finding a partner is more complicated than surviving the war … It is also hard to think of fathers and mothers. Mine is a huge generosity and has never put a snag, but leaving a child alone is very hard. For me that has always been a bit the limit ».

Personal and non-transferable

He was born in Buenos Aires, he is single and without children. He regrets "not having done better with people I loved because I was too focused on work." Forgive "everything, I have no enemies or resentments; what you learn in war is that if you are shot you are in the middle; nothing personal". They make him laugh the intelligent humor and the irony, and to cry, the injustices. A Kindle with many books would be taken to a desert island. He likes "healthy food and I do not drink alcohol for 20 years". It has thousands of hobbies, among them, doing it all day 22. It is repeated distressing dreams, above all, claustrophobic. As a major he would like to dedicate himself to fiction. And, if he were born again, "I would do the same, but I would take it less seriously".

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