The fate of the forgotten

30-7-2019. photo VD: Marlon Hernandez.
By Diego Recinos

for Brandon, there were no parades, recognition, no medals. For him and his family, there is uncertainty, fear and anxiety that forced displacement given to those who fall into it. Gone are the years of military service in the Salvadoran civil war, Gone was half his body ofrendado to save their excompañeros. Neither the state nor gangs recognize him as a hero.

The 25 July 1983 It is the date that marked forever the life of Brandon. That day, their 15 years, he joined the Salvadoran armed forces during the civil war. Then, the small Central American country, he struggled in a bloody struggle between guerrilla Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the Salvadoran Armed Forces (FIELD) aided by the United States, who at all costs he wanted to avoid in your backyard, a country more communist shade was aligned encouraged by the USSR.

30-7-2019. photo VD: Marlon Hernandez.

With an air of nationalism, by love of country and hunger caused by war, a young native of Canton Township Angel Apopa decides he wants to be part of something that never understood. After two months of a brief training, It is sent to the hill of Guazapa (strategic place for Guerrilla and where heavy clashes with the armed forces were given). "The training was hard and stodgy, but nothing prepares one for when you get to walk in the bush and begin to hear the sound of bullets passing rosándote head ", expresses Brandon.

During 5 years, between 1983 and April 1987, the teenager became a man and his combat experience was promoted to sergeant. The bullets, mines and clashes welcomed to adulthood.

At this stage of his military service, before turning 18 years, Do you killed? - So look, in a war already it knows what awaits one and are willing to die. Sometimes, It got so ugly situation at the front, only heard the gun sound. But we had to survive and defend ourselves. He could not let them kill me what else can you do but defend? It's hard to see fall dead companions to one's feet. I saw many die. I saw men halved, others with their guts out and I had to drag myself among them to save myself and others ".

But life had something else saved the young sergeant. Morning 25 April 1987, Brandon Guazapa down the hill with a firing 180 soldiers, marching him in tenth position, when unbeknownst, they entered a minefield.

Of the 9 men walking ahead of Brandon, solo 2 they were alive. Brandon, to recover his senses after the explosion, He carried on his shoulders one of them to the safe extraction zone. But leave it in place, He stepped on a mine.

Not remember much. It has blurred images. Within the mosaic of memories mind that entered into his throat tube pen so he could breathe, therefore mine shrapnel had cut off a part of the throat, good arms and the injured part of your body.

Life was just Brandon. He passed 5 days in a coma with more than 80% your body with serious injuries. On the sixth day he awoke. But seeing his body felt incomplete. Brandon had lost a leg. He tried to scream, but he had also lost his voice.

Were 4 months of therapy and try to overcome the psychological impact of what happened. In April 1988 he was taken to Staff, where he along with several war wounded, They were abandoned to their fate. "We were several there doing nothing. Nobody told us anything, no thanks and goodbye. Some went to their homes and decided to return to my canton ".

30-7-2019. photo VD: Marlon Hernandez.

The return to civilian life without any preparation was traumatic. "I spent sleepless months, he had nightmares, I dreamed of my leg and imagined walking. I was quite traumatized. So I started drinking and how could it work, I fell into depression ".

Without work and a pension 400 colones per month, Brandon, I had to rebuscarse for a living. He learned the trade of upholsterer and put his own upholstery. He decided to move house and fight to rebuild their lives.

Over the years, Sergeant married and had 3 children. With his family and with much effort, things began to improve. Until a summer morning in the year 2016, when three boys, almost the age of her second child, they came to collect "rent for upholstery".

"I for my children and my wife, He had no weapons, but I would have liked to have something to defend myself ". After the first visit and the refusal of Brandon, They followed several more visits. "They pointed their guns twice. I put the gun to my head and asked me to pay 100 dollars a month. To me, I'm not afraid to die, and I was dead and I saw several times death in the face. But I could not forgive myself if something happens to my family ".

30-7-2019. photo VD: Marlon Hernandez.

The family decided to report to the police what happened. "We went to the PNC twice and the police tried to investigate, but the threats continued and got worse ". No choice and hoping to save his family, Brandon left the country 17 of April 2017.

With what little he could save your home, the whole family came to Europe. "I decided to come to save my family, my girl is small and does not want anything to happen to my two children. But I never imagined how hard it would be to live here ".

Brandon and his family applied for asylum in a European country. But nevertheless, already they received the first negative to these requests. Europe believes in reports of Salvadoran governments that show a successful fight against gangs, and there is no civil war, Brandon and his family are in danger and must return home.

Things are not looking good. Not having documents, access to medicines is a titanic problem for Brandon. The lack of medicines joblessness adds. "I want to work, fend for myself and my family move forward , as I have always done. But not having papers, I do not get work ". The few jobs that are on the black market are underpaid, with grueling schedules and a strong physical load.

30-7-2019. photo VD: Marlon Hernandez.

Despite the setbacks and their physical limitations, Brandon has worked what has been achieved. "The person who hired me treat me like you. I go to work at 6 in the morning and sometimes, no time to eat or go to the toilet or drink water gives us. We are slaves to him. Once he took me to work 12 night and wanted to enter again 6 in the morning. I could no more. Stump was swollen and had a pain that left me unable to walk well. I told him I could not, and he replied that he could get 10 more like me fresh off the plane. I was not called back to work in days ".

Brandon has unsuccessfully sought help in the Salvadoran Embassy of this European country. But they respond that it is not in your hands to do something for him. "I just thought of me back. Now, do not fight an enemy but against oblivion and neglect. Fight against disease, joblessness and clear that the injury affects me ".

Nowadays, and after a life test which had to pay 10 Euros to the Embassy, Brandon receives 400 dollars a month pension. 200 for being disabled and 200 veteran status. Money barely covers feeding your family in an expensive country.

Sergeant Brandon was mutilated by war, blackmailed and threatened by gangs and left abandoned by their country. A war hero, a veteran, a father, a fighter for freedom against the supposed communist threat; now debate back to certain death or live on the farm. This is life after death.