The Iraq War in the pages of Folha

The newspaper was the only Brazilian outlet with reporters covering the beginning of the conflict in Baghdad

Capa do jornal Folha de S.Paulo, 20 de março de 2003 (2003-03-20)Folha de S.Paulo

On Wednesday, March 20, 2003, at 5:35 am local time (11:35 pm on Tuesday, March 19 in Brasília), the coalition led by the United States began bombing the capital Baghdad, marking the beginning of the Iraq War.

Guerra do Iraque (2003-03-26) by Juca VarellaFolha de S.Paulo

That morning and the following, Folha de S.Paulo would be the only Brazilian outlet to have reporters following the conflict that left 117 journalists dead in Baghdad.

Guerra do Iraque (2003-04-15) by Juca VarellaFolha de S.Paulo

The professionals were then reporter Sérgio Dávila (on the right), now editorial director at Folha, and photographer Juca Varella.

Guerra do Iraque (2003-04-11) by Juca VarellaFolha de S.Paulo

In a report published in the book "Diário de Baghdad" (DBA, 2003), Dávila says that there were 180 journalists at the hotel Palestine, which served as the duo's office, with just two photographers: Varella and a France Presse professional.

Guerra do Iraque (2003-04-11) by Juca VarellaFolha de S.Paulo

“After waiting an hour without anything happening, I jump out of bed onto the balcony in time to hear the sound of the first missile, drowned out by the sirens, which don't stop. A few more minutes and the first wave of bombs — there are 13 in the same area — hits one of the buildings in Saddam Hussein's presidential complex. The war begins”, writes Dávila.

Guerra do Iraque (2003-03-29) by Juca VarellaFolha de S.Paulo

Varella and the France Presse photographer manage to record the beginning of the bombing thanks to a very simple strategy: leaving the camera pointed at the same place. “Juca chooses a point, focuses on it and —click— captures the image that in ten minutes will be in São Paulo and then around the world.”

Guerra do Iraque (2003-03-20) by Juca VarellaFolha de S.Paulo

As the war worsened, the dictator Saddam Hussein tried to flee and hide, but ended up captured, tried and executed. The weapons of mass destruction, the George W. Bush administration's (2001-2009) initial pretext for the operation, were never found.

Guerra do Iraque (2003-03-26) by Juca VarellaFolha de S.Paulo

Throughout the military onslaught, around 200,000 civilians were killed and millions had to take refuge in other countries. In the power vacuum that followed the invasion, the Islamic State experienced its growth, peak and fall, leaving a trail of blood.

Guerra do Iraque (2003-03-26) by Juca VarellaFolha de S.Paulo

The historically unstable region remains in turmoil, with tension between Iraq, Iran and Syria. Internally, Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, who lived in peace forced by the iron hand of the dictatorship, resumed their skirmishes.

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