It’s fucked up and it’s nerve-wracking

There’s no place in the world so far away that what happens doesn’t affect us in some way


Don’t ask me how, but since mid-week I have found myself in the middle of an aid network that is trying to get people out of Kabul who defended and tried to establish the rule of law in Afghanistan. Do not ask me because I cannot tell you. It would not be fair to them and there are moments in life when doing can do more than telling. The only important thing is that hour by hour and anguish by anguish I have been able to experience the difficult journey to get some families out of a hell in which they are already being sought door to door, given that they have shown their faces, given that the Taliban know who they are.

It is not something new, in 2017 more than 60 judges and prosecutors were killed in Afghanistan by Taliban revenge but also by organized crime. We Spaniards are so magnificent many times, that already since that date there have been people and organizations involved in knowing the struggle of those jurists. Something that has turned out to be very important. The first problem in getting them to a safe place is that those who are hiding right now, changing places, fearing that the door that shelters them may be the next one where the gunshots will resound, is to find safe corridors in which they themselves trust. This is not about bureaucratic windows to go to or not to go to alone. I am outraged that this issue is spoken of lightly, as if it were easy just to get the threatened to give an address or a telephone number to pick them up.

That is why the role of the people who had the concern and the courage to go and take an interest in their lives a few years ago and who have personal ties with them is so important. They have been able to confide in them and that is how I have been involved in a safety net woven between private individuals, people of good will, public officials and Spanish and American authorities. It takes informal and formal networks to get as many threatened people out of there as possible. Them and their families. Sometimes their families worry them more than they worry themselves. That is why we cannot and should not mention their names or positions or anything that could identify them. There have already been cases of reprisals taken on relatives of people who have managed to reach Europe and whose names have been given by some media or tweeters. No names, no charges, no identifications.

The question, as you can see, is to link those informal and trusting channels that some of them weaved in their day with the official aid mechanisms and that is where a journalist with a plural, mixed agenda, ranging from the dispossessed to the powerful, can be of some use. That is the least of it, but it is also a way of giving meaning to this profession.

The truth is that the situation is complicated. I abhor those frivolous comments that seem to criticize as if this were as easy as issuing tickets at a travel agency. It is not. It’s fucked up and it’s distressing. It’s fucking distressing, I tell you the truth. In the case at hand and as I write this we have managed to get some of those people to safety inside Kabul airport but we are still struggling to get others to make it.

Once we have gained the confidence of those threatened, in many cases it is necessary to communicate their specific problem and their coordinates to the authorities who can facilitate their evacuation. Spain is providing safe conduct and places on its planes to many of these people but our country is not in a position to get them to Kabul airport. ”This is to certify that the persons listed below are under the protection of the Government of Spain and are sponsored by to take a flight…”, the magic paper, the abracadabra of salvation. It has been too long since we have had people on the ground and we cannot go outside the airport to look for anyone. The people of the Spanish consular service are working flat out. Only the Americans are carrying out rescue missions to get the most at-risk and significant people to a safe entrance to Kabul airport – you can imagine. The list is endless. The anguish of the one who waits in hiding in a place where he cannot move – to be found by the good guys – but where those who are looking for him can get there first is terrible. There is no way anyone can be sure when or how. We are short of more military personnel at the gates to the airport, even at the more secluded and therefore more secure ones. It has been the case that some of these people have managed to get to one of them but the American soldier who was guarding them has told them that without Spanish troops to take charge they could not accept their entry.

I want you to know that there are dozens of people – probably hundreds, but I am telling you what I know – building bridges, knocking on doors, collecting the names of those threatened and how to contact them, making demands to national or supranational bodies… While they remain hidden and are afraid of being deceived. Some have received fake messages in their e-mails from fake American soldiers offering them ”I have a secured business proposal for you” and that they are nothing but traps. You have to send the messages up and disprove them or confirm them. You have to… There are very well-known people and very anonymous people serving those networks, looking for loopholes, giving hope and I’m just talking about the efforts to rescue jurists, judges, prosecutors and public officials of Justice. But it is not easy, it is not easy at all. Not because of the planes or the evacuations or the organized arrival at the “hub” of Torrejón, it is because of the almost impossible entry to the airport, it is because of the risk of abandoning the hiding places and getting to the place where the safe-conduct has some force.

It is not easy. I wish those who try to take advantage of this for the mediocre local partisan struggle had spent these nights passing messages and data and coordinates in the wee hours of the morning, to people located on three continents trying to find vestiges of hope for those who have only a dark room or a basement or a back room in which to wait for freedom or death.

There are people doing who don’t talk and people talking who don’t do.

There are people giving their sleepless nights and their contacts whose names I cannot give you.

There are people whose hope and whose lives depend on that silence.

It’s really fucked up, but when someone makes it to the plane, to their family… then….

Previous VOX exists because Lorca was murdered
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