Agustin Ayala was 18 years old when he went to the Malvinas War in 1982. A group of islands situated in South Atlantic 438 miles away from Argentina. Colonized in 1833 by England, Argentina tried to get the islands back during the last period of its dictatorship.
This war between Argentina and United Kingdom lasted 74 days. 649 Argentines were killed and about 500 veterans committed suicide after the war. There are no officials statistics and many experts claim that there are much more veterans who killed themselves.
When Agustin went back to Resistencia city in the Argentine province of Chaco he suffered of strong depression. One day while he was working as a police officer a colleague insulted him of “ crazy war veteran”. Agustin snapped and hit him. He lost his job and never got a new one. Today, he turned 51 years old and wears everyday his war uniform. Agustin can’t sleep in peace.
I met Agustin in Plaza San Martin in Buenos Aires one day before Malvinas War commemoration. It was at night and I saw him sleeping in a tree. He had put a piece of wooden board on two wide branches and slept on it. I walked toward him to make a photo but he woke up. He smiled at me and told me:“ what’s up fellow?” We spoke few hours under the rain and he invited me to visit him in his house in Resistencia. Fours years later, I finally travelled to Resistencia. I just could stay two days because I had to go to Bolivia for an assignment. Agustin told me how he survived fighting and killing. Deeply hidden in a small hole that they used to call “ foxhole” he spent entire days under British bombs with his feet soaked by icy seawater. He thought that he was going to be treated as a hero. But during many years he felt abandoned by his people and by Argentina’s government.
While I was sleeping in his house (it was late and I could not go to an hotel without a car) he cried at night. He woke up afraid and said: “always the same nightmare. The English planes bombarded us. My friends died and I couldn’t do anything. I was 18 years old”.