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‘What I Went Through in Afghanistan Was Apocalyptic’: Journalist Jorge Said

«Lo que viví en Afganistán fue apocalíptico»: periodista Jorge Said

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“Apocalyptic” was the word used by Chilean journalist and filmmaker Jorge Said to describe what he experienced in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over the territory. Said had traveled to Kabul to film part of his documentary series “Searching for God”, but everything changed with the arrival of the terrorists, who prevented him from leaving the country.

In a conversation with El American, he narrated how he managed to survive and leave Afghan territory after receiving even death threats from the Taliban. “I describe what I experienced in Afghanistan as an apocalyptic situation. It’s like you see that the world is going to end,” Said described.

A few days ago he arrived in Spain and since then what he has done, he says, has been to reflect on how he managed to save himself. His last day in Afghanistan was constant desperation, in the midst of a crowd of people in which it was almost impossible to walk, he did what he could to survive.

He didn’t just do it for himself. He helped many other people to escape even though it was difficult to communicate because there were Taliban people among them watching and they could not speak freely, not even in their language: “At one point we lost hope, we thought we were not going to be able to get out. You could no longer get through the crowd. It was impossible to make room.

Although he has two nationalities, Chilean and American, his departure was thanks to the management and help of Spain. He intended to leave as an American citizen because, in one way or another, he felt safer. However, the process to achieve this was confusing.

Then he began to realize that many of the people with whom he was making the arrangements to leave were staying and it was at that moment when he began to look for help among Spanish journalists and media.

That is how he began to collaborate as a journalist with the newspaper El País and that is how he managed to leave with support from Spain. He also says that when she was getting on the plane, the terrorist attack by ISIS occurred at the airport.

“The exit was epic, actually. There were many moments where we could have been the ones killed. We could have been stopped by the Taliban like six times, we could have been shot or had everything taken away. If we count how many times we were saved, I still find it hard to believe and reflect on it,” the filmmaker stresses.

He now lives in a dilemma because he has mixed feelings. On the one hand, he is grateful to have left safely, something that also gives him satisfaction, but at the same time, he is frustrated for having left behind Afghan families who did not manage to leave and who know that he is already in another country and are asking him for help. He is also clear that “the Taliban are not going to let many people leave”.

This Monday was the deadline set by the Taliban for the departure of citizens. The group insisted that after that day no more people could leave. So far there has been no information on what will happen to those who stayed.

“The last few days I was very worried about how many people from my hotel were staying. I don’t know if they stayed for life, I don’t know what will happen to them afterward,” the journalist said.

What comes next, according to Jorge Said

Said stressed that there are several scenarios for the crisis in Afghanistan and for what will be the life of Afghans. He explains that since the first day the Taliban arrived, many things have changed. Mainly—he mentions—the lives of women.

“For women, it is very painful because they can no longer practice their profession. It changed their lives,” he said.

He also indicated that there can be several political outcomes. However, he is convinced that the final outcome will depend on both the Taliban and the international community, because although the terrorist group has a greater capacity in armament, Said assures that it does not have the same capacity for the country’s economy.

Jorge Said told what it was like to live through the Taliban takeover. (Image: EFE)

“There is also the influence of China. We are facing a scenario with a range of possibilities in which there are many international players who are playing the fate of that nation.”

Jorge Said

Finally, he believes that negotiations will take place even if many citizens do not trust the Taliban’s promises: “I know they are conducting negotiations. There will be points on which the Taliban will have to give in. But I also believe that there is not much that women can believe in what the Taliban will tell them. No matter how many promises there are, I don’t think people are going to believe,” he stressed.

Williams Perdomo es periodista y escritor, especializado en las fuentes Política y Cultura.

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