Juan Torres lost her soldier son in Afghanistan. He believed that the heroin mafia killed him. Then he discovered he had been a drug that gave by the Army. He managed to ban the drug worldwide.

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Juan Torres leans over the crown of dried flowers, touch the flag of the strip and the stars and says something. "I talk to my son, I speak" to the big head. " I say he is okay. I'm fine. His mother and sister are too. And I will continue the fight for him, "says Juan glancing the long list of boys from Chicago killed in recent wars, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, engraved on the stone monument erected in the heart of the Windy City. "Fiiiijate" he remarked with his unmistakable accent of Cordoba, "are all Hispanic surnames. Hispanics are the cannon fodder. " And he leans back on the small crown of dried flowers and whispering again. "I told my son not to worry. I will continue fighting for no more Hispanic kids have to go to war in order to progress. I told him I will not go as he cheated. I told him he did not die for nothing, "the Argentine told me when we left the place and walked down Wabash Avenue while the spring wind sweeps us as if we were leaves.

John managed to defeat the Pentagon and one of the most powerful international pharmaceutical companies in the world. No longer able to supply the soldiers, or anyone, the malaria pills that ended up killing his son John / John while serving with his service as a soldier in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Waiting for the trial is over they began to collect the compensation that will put together a foundation dedicated to helping soldiers returning with psychological conditions after the war because the Army does not use as "guinea pigs" by providing medicines that are not are proven conclusively. But above all, in order to continue its campaign to alert children to schools in poor neighborhoods Hispanics who do not be fooled by the armed forces recruiters. "That is the crux of everything. They take the kids while they are still minors. They promise that they will be heroes of films that are going to pay for college, they will travel. And it's all a lie. If I want to charge until the loan it had given my son to study! But his career was over long ago and did not know what happened to the money. But just wanted to charge me. It's all a big lie! "John continues to enjoy while we got on his brown truck and prepares to drive to his home in Schillerr Park, a half hour from downtown Chicago.


The last day that John / John was alive he left the base at Bagram, 70 miles of Kabul, and went directly to one of the many shops that sell the Afghan armed American soldiers. He bought two DVD movies illegally recorded and crossed with some colleagues on the basis that they were going to buy something else. In these stores you can get the best quality heroin. Afghanistan is the largest producer of poppies in the world, the plant from which opium is extracted which is then refined and turned into heroin. "My son was very concerned about everything that happened in Bagram. He told me when he came home. And I asked him not to meddle, I said it was too dangerous, "says John, the father.
John / John was an accountant and was responsible for organizing the movement of supplies and food from the base. Usually worked at night but that July 11, 2004 had changed the guard for a special work to be done the next morning. Still could not sleep. He had very strong pains in the chest and stomach. 

His teammates say they first played a game of virtual football on a videogame with a Mexican partner. They faced the teams of Argentina and Mexico. Messi won the leading. He made plans with your friend's birthday the following night. Then he began to see the movie "21 Grams" by Mexican director Inarritu. Sometime between 4:15 and 6:00 am he saw a sergeant out of the cabin with his head bowed, a towel on his neck and carrying his M-16 rifle. "I have damn Haji guard," he told the sergeant that he was surprised that John / John were walking at that hour there. Was supposed to record the entry of Afghan workers from the base (they call them in a derogatory Haji).

At about seven o'clock we heard a shot from the area of the baths. They found the body of John / John in a pool of blood. He had flown the head. Beside the body found two pictures of her with her parents and her sister, Veronica, and a suicide note written in a disorderly manner in a role that would have found lying in the bathroom. "I'm sorry. I had no other choice. I come to suffer so much pain in the last year and I can not take it anymore. The pain in the chest and stomach is getting more intense and there is no doctor who can help me. Finally I will be in peace and without pain, "the letter said. Add a line to Liz, his girlfriend of Houston, "who always saw her as my wife and the mother of my children" and asks his mother, Susan, to make it impossible for Liz finished college. The letter was withheld by the Pentagon for over a year and a half.

"I was convinced he had been killed. I thought he had gotten the heroin mafia, where many soldiers are committed, and had been murdered, "explains Juan while drinking coffee in the living room of his house. "First they told me not to open the drawer of my son because his head was shattered. And I ignored them. When I saw him was over. There I became more paranoid. And four months I was told that everything was "under review" but I explained nothing. It was when I said "I do not I can stay with their arms crossed." And I went to protest outside Bush's ranch in Texas with a sign saying "The CID Killed my son." The CID is the Criminal Investigation Department of the Army. There he met Cindy Sheehan "the mother peace" and became involved in antiwar protests around the country. We contacted members of Congress from Illinois, Senator Richard Durbin and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who is now chief of staff of the White House. "At first I thought that would help me but then I realized that you were going through all the information you gave them the Pentagon and finally told me that" the investigation into the death of his son was done properly, "says Juan.

That time is that the Army gives the conclusions of the investigation and the suicide letter appears. Juan suspected even more. His son was the strength of a thousand horses and would not kill himself because of severe pain in the chest or stomach. "I do not close it anywhere. It was a few days to leave the Army permanently. It'll end the contract he had signed and had plans to travel with his girlfriend and get married. They would go to Argentina. They loved. I could not believe it had been shot, "continues counting while breathing deep sighs strong and not to let the tears escape.

In one of the manifestations found Shaun McCann documentary that offers an independent investigation and turn it into a film. In May 2006 we went together to look for evidence to Afghanistan. At the base of Bagram were given a tour like tourists and they said they had changed the place and the bathrooms had been transferred to another sector. "All I wanted was to pray near where my son was dead. And even that could, "throws down the tone of voice. But I could see that what the heroin trade that his son had told him was true. A boy offered opium and heroin and a moment later saw as an officer of the base out and bought a large package of drugs on the streets of New York could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
But returned to Afghanistan without clear answers. Early evidence with which they could begin to determine why the death of John / John appeared only six months later in an envelope that arrived anonymously. Someone from inside the U.S. military had decided that he knew the truth.


Susana Ferro Juan met when they were just teenagers in the city of Cordoba. Soon, at age 16, Susan was pregnant with Veronica, the couple's first child is now an architect in Houston, Texas. John was 20. He had learned tooling but worked as an inspector in the municipality. It was 1980 and barely raised money to survive. It was when she became pregnant again Susana Juan / John. Looking for a way out of the situation and some friends offered to come to Houston. When four months old baby decided to emigrate. "At first I worked in restaurants and do things I looked for stamping. But I soon discovered that it was very good money serving banquets at hotels. And there I met some managers were recommending me. The truth is that I liked him because he was very reliable to work and because he played good football. He had played in the lower Belgrano de Cordoba, my team's heart, and in the past Peñarol the province. Here I played in several semi-professional teams. And you know that my son had inherited the skill. He played super well. Always looking to play. Shorty was a very skillful with the ball, "John continues to enjoy while we're back in the brown truck to make a tour of Sheridan Avenue that borders Lake Michigan and goes to the most sophisticated neighborhoods of Chicago.

At 96, Veronica was about to enter college and John / John would soon. John needed more money. Decided to accept the offer to come to work in a hotel in Chicago in which he tripled his salary. With pain left Susan and the kids to work 12 or 14 hours per day and make a difference. "I had no life. Rest days took the opportunity to do some extra gig. And all of that away from me Susana finished, though we still have very good relationship, but not boys. They came to visit and stayed here for seasons. It was when John / John made the serious mistake, "says John when we went through the neighborhood of houses where people live like Michael Jordan or Ophra Winfrey.

Juan / John had been persuaded by an Army recruiter visited his school. And although he still had three months to age 18 signed a contract to enlist. When the father told him it was too late. The Army did not accept the argument that the contract was illegal because he had signed a minor without parental consent. The worst was the fine print. Down there, going, said the one-year contract could be extended to eight years if the country's situation required it. John / John went to Kosovo and returned without major problems. He finished his studies and graduated as an accountant. But he was about to marry Liz called back. This time to go to Afghanistan.


Susana's mother, sent several requests for information on the death of his son through the Freedon of Information Act did not answer him the first two, but months after filing the third came on with a nine-page classified report of the psychiatrist Robert Ensley Army written in June 2005. "That's when you open the Pandora's box," says Juan. Ensley says that John / John was a soldier more mature than the average, competent and sociable. And at the end mentions the medication he was taking: Lariam, or mefloquine hydrochloride, an anti-malarial drug known for its devastating side effects.
In the '80s, the Walter Reed Institute of Army Research developed the pill, and gave him the license to the Swiss drugmaker Roche. It was a great solution for the Pentagon. Each time he sent soldiers to a tropical area had to spend vast fortunes on treatments for malaria for which you have to take a pill every day. Lariam is provided once a week. But it is quite dangerous medicine. It causes hallucinations, major depression and induces suicide.

In 1997 and formed the first organization of relatives of people killed because of this drug. And in 2002, a series of investigations of two UPI reporters proved that the medicine is prescribed to hundreds of thousands of soldiers, social workers and tourists, "five times may cause mental problems that lead to suicide than any other treatment for prevent malaria as the antibiotic doxycline, for example. " The Walter Reed Institute itself published in a 2004 report that "at least 25% of those taking mefloquine as a prophylactic dose experienced neurological and psychiatric adverse effects." California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein was able to assemble a committee of inquiry on drugs in Congress, but did not reach any concrete conclusions. The then general manager of health of the Army, James Peake, told the committee that "we found no evidence between the use of Lariam and suicide soldiers. Only 4 of the 24 soldiers who committed suicide this year in Iraq belonged to units that were given this drug. " A few months later and following a request for information from Torres, the Army acknowledged that suicides because of the pill were not 4 but 11.

The report appeared stronger in Malaria Journal in March 2008 signed by the prestigious Remington Nevin infectious diseases. He says that about 10% of 11 725 troops in Afghanistan who took Lariam had severe neurological effects. And that speaks for the first time that these effects are enhanced by the use of some other drugs in parallel.

"John / John was very systematic. If his superior had told him to take a pill he did correctly without escaping any dose. His friends told me. They did not take the pill because it gave them pain but my son blindly trust in doctors. It was when she began having severe stomach pains and chest, "says Juan.
Last year John and Susan decided to hire the lawyer Louis Font, a former U.S. army officer who asked the low disillusioned by the war and is responsible to defend conscientious objectors. Font managed to transmit to him all the medical records and service of John / John. And there they found the key. A cause of stomach cramps, a doctor at the Army gave him some pills to calm down the acidity. It was what aggravated the consequences of Lariam. The two drugs together are fatal. They cause inflammation in the chest, hallucinations and suicidal tendencies. These are effects that appear suddenly and cause extreme pain on the person. Finally, a federal judge took the case noting that by law can not sue the Army but at Roche which produces the drug. When the Pentagon was officially announced that it would not provide his soldiers Lariam "because it is a drug with dangerous side effects." Roche Lariam retired three months ago the market. The American press speaks of Cordoba Juan Torres as "the father courage" who managed to defeat the Pentagon. Last week in Chicago premiered the documentary "Drugs and Death at Bagram" by Shaun McCann describes the path taken by the Argentine.

"And I'm more relaxed. I think that by the end of the year and will have the trial resolved and I'm going to start working with the foundation that I create on behalf of my son. I'm not against the U.S. military but do not want them to continue lying to the Hispanic kids or their parents. As I always say, John / John gave me a mandate. No more boys who are treated as beasts of war, "says John and kisses the ring of his son who is six years since his right hand. Then look at the photo of that bright-eyed boy, breathing fast and deep sighs.

Original Article: Clarin.com