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This is an English translation of a power point that has been circulating since May 2008 when Spanish photojournalist Gervasio Sanchez received the Ortega y Gasset Award for one of his photos in his project "Mined Lives," a series of images showing victims of anti-personnel landmine explosions. In his acceptance speech, Sanchez condemned the Spanish government for selling weapons to countries with internal conflicts and challenged Spanish politicians to do more in the effort to ban and remove anti-personnel landmines worldwide. (I'm not sure who the original author of the Spanish version is; I only translated it.)
On May 7, 2008, the Spanish newspaper El País awarded photographer and journalist Gervasio Sánchez the Ortega and Gasset Prize. He received the award before a large audience which included Spain’s vice-president, the president of the Senate, various government ministers , the president of the Community of Madrid ( Eperanza Aguirre ) the mayor of Madrid ( Alberto Ruiz Gallardón ), and several major media outlets.
Of course, it seems that such an illustrious crowd must not have been very pleased by Sánchez’s speech, which condemned the inattention and oversight of the entire media community. Since most media outlets refused to publish the speech, I created this Power Point so that a few more people can read it. When you read it, you’ll understand why they didn’t want to publish it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honorable members of the jury: It’s a great honor for me to receive the Ortega and Gasset Prize in Photography, awarded by El País , the newspaper which published my first photos of Latin America in the 1980s and some of my best work completed during various world conflicts in the 1990s, especially the photographs I took during the siege of Sarajevo.
I want to thank those people who run Heraldo de Aragón , La Vanguardia Magazine and the Cadena Ser for always respecting my work as a journalist and for giving the protaganists in my stories, so often people forgotten in the story’s wake, a place to cry and shout.
<ul><li>I don’t want to forget the humanitarian organizations Intermon Oxfam , United Hands </li></ul><ul><li>and Doctors Without Borders , the company DKV INSURANCE and my editor Leopoldo Blume for supporting me unconditionally over the past twelve years and for allowing “Mined Lives,” the project the winning photo comes from, to take on it’s own life and enjoy a lengthy tour that could continue for decades to come. </li></ul>
Ladies and Gentlemen, although I have only one biological son, Diego Sánchez, I can say that like Martin Luther King Jr. , the great African American dreamer assasinated over 40 years ago, I have several children, victims of anti-personnel landmines: Sofia Elface Fumo , from Mozambique whom you met alongside her daughter Alia in the image recognized by the prize, which shows the pain of every victim, but also the beauty of life and, more than anything, the tireless struggle for survival and the dignity of victims. There’s also Sokheurm Man from Cambodia , Adis Smajic from Bosnia, and Colombian Mónica Paola Ojeda , who was blinded by a landmine explosion when she was eight years old.
Yes, they are my four adopted children whom I’ve seen on the border between life and death, whom I’ve seen cry and scream in pain, whom I’ve watched grow up, go to college, fall in love, have children. I assure you that nothing in the world is more beautiful than seeing a victim of war in the pursuit of happiness. It’s true that war crushes our souls and robs us of our dreams, like they say in Kenji Mizoguchi’s film “Tales of a Pale and Mysterious Moon After the Rain.”
It’s true that the weapons found on the battlefields tend to be manufactured in developed countries such as our own, which was a huge exportor of mines in the past and today does very little to help the victims of mines and the mine removal effort.
It’s true that all of the Spanish politicians, since the beginning of the transition, headed by presidents Adolfo Suarez , Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo , Felipe González , José María Aznar and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero , permitted and continue to permit the sale of Spanish arms to countries with internal conflicts or open wars.
It’s true that during the most recent legislature, the sale of Spanish arms has multiplied at the same time as the president was insisting on an anti-war message, and today we manufacture four different types of cluster bombs which behave in a way similar to anti-personnel mines.
It’s true that I’m shocked every time I run into Spanish weapons in the forgotten battlefields of the third world, and I’m ashamed of my political representatives.
But like Martin Luther King Jr., I refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt, and also like him, I have a dream: that a Spanish president will finally have enough guts to put an end to the silent arms market that, whether we like it or not, is turning our country into an exportor of death Thank you very much.
The Winning Photo Sofia Elface Fumo , with her daughter Alia
<ul><li>Sokheurm Man , a mine blew off one of his legs when he was only 14 as he was on his way home from school in Cambodia. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Sokheurm Man , with his wife Nin Lin and his son. </li></ul><ul><li>He currently works for the Jesuit Refugee Service where he is in charge of documenting new cases of victims of anti-personnel mines. </li></ul>
Adis Smajic , two days after the explosion, March 1996