Astrada’s pictures are evidence of the deadly force used to quell the demonstrators and show just how uncomfortably close the photojournalist was to the carnage.
“I was lucky not to be killed or wounded. I saw a lot of violence – people shot in the head. At first I ran with the crowd to take cover. Then I stopped and took pictures of what was around me. I was shooting pictures for maybe 30 or 40 seconds. Then I was taking pictures of the people carrying the dead and wounded.”
“It’s a big responsibility not only for me, but for any photographer to show what the police or soldiers were doing. They were trying to kill people. They were not responding to any attack. They were just shooting at people who were trying to have their opinion [heard],” he says with a mixture of outrage and disbelief.
The photojournalist hurried to his hotel to edit and file his pictures.
“I was worried that I might be arrested,” he explains. “Even if somebody was going to take my camera from me later, it was very important to try to save what I had.”
Within 40 minutes, he had 20 images on the wire, cut down from the 100 or so frames he’d shot during a 40-second burst and then over a four-minute period. Although he continued to document the bloodshed and its aftermath on the streets, in hospitals and the morgue for another eleven days, it was these initial pictures that made up the majority of his exhibition and the World Press Photo submission. Twenty-eight protesters were killed and 200 wounded in the gunfire. A Nomadic Life