Messenger of Peace
How a Marine turned his father into a one-man army against war
By Fernando Suarez Del Solar 09/07/2006
The death of my son on March 27, 2003, marked the start of my activism in the United States, a country to which I had migrated only a few years earlier. My life here, until then the life of a common worker and provider, suffered a violent alteration after being notified of my son’s death in Iraq.
Marine Lance Cpl. Jesus Alberto Suarez Del Solar Navarro died of a bullet wound to the head, or so I was informed at 8:15 a.m. the following day by three uniformed men who came to my house looking for my son’s young wife. Apart from the intense pain that overwhelmed me, I also felt intense anger that my son was lost in a war in which I never believed. In front of the cameras, that same day, I blamed President Bush publicly for my son’s death, even without knowing that I was being lied to as to the true cause and circumstances of my son’s death.
Three or four days later, I received a call from a reporter from the San Diego UnionTribune who told me the paper had access to information regarding my son’s death that was very different from that officially delivered by the authorities. The reporter told me my son had died in an accident.
That same day, Bob Woodruf, an anchorman for ABC in Iraq, telephoned me and told me my son had not died from a bullet wound to the head but from friendly fire, stepping accidentally on a piece of explosive artillery — illegal in any war, according to the Geneva Convention and the United Nations, but widely spread on Iraqi soil nonetheless by US military forces. With this information, I proceeded to contact people in the Marines and my own congressman to ask for an explanation. To this day I have not received any response.
On April 9, when my only son’s body finally arrived in Escondido to be buried, I disobeyed an order to not open the casket. Against the wishes of the United States government, I imposed my right as a father and demanded that the four soldiers guarding the casket leave me alone with my son’s body. They were forced to yield due to my firm insistence. There, alone with my son’s corpse, I opened the casket and was able to confirm that my son did not die of a bullet wound. His head was, in fact, intact. His wounds were located in his feet, legs and abdomen.
Knowing for certain about the immoral and criminal lie my family was subjected to, I made the decision to go public with my denouncement, traveling and speaking wherever there are those willing to listen. Since then I have traveled throughout most of the United States and to eight foreign countries, including Iraq, where I stood on the very spot where my son died and was able to bury my hands in the dirt covered with his dried blood and bring it home with me.
I have taken my denouncement of Bush’s criminal lies and this immoral war everywhere I go. I have been relentlessly delivering a message of peace, justice and nonviolent resistance to militarism. I initiated the Guerrero Azteca Peace Project in order to deliver information to schools, my primary objective being to reach the young. I speak to all about the systematically omitted realities of military service, about the numerous lies and entrapments of military recruitment. I speak about the sad social realities behind young people’s unawareness of infinitely better life alternatives, as military service deprives them of the very things they claim to fight for — freedom, peace, self-determination, physical and mental health and, ultimately, their own precious lives.
I make every effort to convey to young people that war and violence will never lead to true peace. On the contrary, hatred and desire for vengeance only increase conflict and breed unending violence. The only true weapon with genuine power to end terrorism and injustice is education, tolerance and respect for others. I will continue my work indefinitely under the present circumstances.