Portugal’s War Veterans: Hidden By Government Forgotten By Society

 

Documentary Photographer Tommaso Rada is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  From his project ‘Forgotten Soldiers‘.  To see Tommaso’s body of work  click on any image.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1961, Portugal was governed by the dictator Salazar. He started a war in Angola, one of Portugal’s colonies. Soon problems emerged also in the other African Colonies: Guiné Bissau and Mozambique and the war quickly expanded on the three fronts. This bloody war, that was going to be named Portuguese Colonial War, ended only in the 1974 with the collapse of the Portuguese regimen.

 

"...in Portugal an entire generation of men between 18 and 30 years old were receiving a mandatory call to go to the war."

 

While the rest of Europe the youth were fighting for their rights and for a new society, in Portugal an entire generation of men between 18 and 30 years old were receiving a mandatory call to go to the war. During the postcolonial war, on the three fronts (Angola, Mozambique and Guiné Bissau) the number of men sent was 149 thousand (the Portugal population is 10 million including elders, women and children); 8289 died on the fields and 15507 reported injuries.  In these statistics are not counted all the ones that later suffered from PTSD.

 

"The Portuguese veterans represent the long-term effects of the war. Forgotten by the society, hidden by the authorities their physical and psychological trauma became every year more acute."

 

For the ones injured, the worst was still to come. In fact, back in Portugal, the falling regimen and the Portuguese government after the 1974 didn’t want to show to the population the effect of the war. The people injured were hidden and segregated in military hospitals, where only few people were able to access. After they were dismissed several fundamental rights were not recognized: many amputated soldiers have had to wait years before receiving the prosthesis for their lost limbs and many veterans they have had to fight for their rights to obtain their deserved soldier annuity. The Portuguese Government recognized  PTSD as disease only in 1999.  Twenty five years after the end of the war, a large number of veterans of the Colonial War still suffer of PTSD while there are still former soldiers that fought for their country that are not receiving the proper treatment for this disease. The Portuguese veterans represent the long-term effects of the war. Forgotten by the society, hidden by the authorities their physical and psychological trauma became every year more acute.

 

 

 

 

 

See also:

Domestic Borders

By Tommaso Rada

 

 

 

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