One woman’s story: "Please don’t close your eyes and ears to this issue.  Don’t be afraid to look for the truth."

Patricia Rodriguez, a student from Seville, Spain, tells a different story about the effects of exposure to DU.  Patricia’s boyfriend, Antonio Gonzalez, a Spanish soldier who was active in four missions in Kosovo, contracted a “mystery illness” and died just days later.  Antonio’s sudden death, at the age of 22, shocked Patricia and hardened her resolve to expose the truth behind Antonio’s death. We spoke with Patricia at an international conference on the uses and dangers of depleted uranium in November 2003.

WLOE: Patricia, please explain what happened when Antonio came back from Kosovo.

PATRICIA RODRIGUEZ: “Antonio was an athletic, healthy, young man.  Days after returning from Kosovo, he started suffering from symptoms such as high fever and coughing. He started feeling very tired…and he had developed a fever of 40-41 degrees…the military hospital told him that he had a cold.  A few days later his symptoms became worse and he was transferred to a civilian hospital.   They told him that he had acute leukemia.  At three o’clock in the morning, I took the train from Sevilla to Zaragosa to be with him.  He couldn’t stand and was vomiting.  I was in shock.  On Oct. 31, 2000, fourteen days after he came back, he was dead.”

WLOE: How did people react to the news of his death?

PR: “…friends of ours who were also soldiers in the military, asked me if his illness could have been caused by some sort of radiation exposure in Kosovo….The Spanish government said that there were no cases of illnesses caused from serving in the Balkans.  When I heard this I went to the press and I told them about Antonio.  His story received a lot of attention and stories of other families who had members suffering from the same illnesses, having tumors in the same places, and [were] deployed in the same places, started coming out.”

WLOE: What did you do after you heard other families had been affected?

PR: “I needed to talk to other families [who were] going through the same things that I went through.  But this kind of outreach is difficult.  Now, I am waiting for the media to pick up this story again, so that more families can come together and find support.

WLOE: How can people help families and individuals, who are dealing with these illnesses?

PR: “All families need access to information on uranium weapons before their family members are sent into combat or exposed in any way to these weapons.  Families with affected members need information on treatment.  Families need personal support…and families affected by these illnesses need financial support.  Soldiers need to be tested and this costs a lot of money.”

WLOE: Do you have a message for other women, men, and families who are now experiencing what you’ve gone through?

PR: Please don’t close your eyes and ears to this issue.  Don’t be afraid to look for the truth.  If we permit these things, we are destroying our genetic heritage and we are contaminating the planet.

This interview was conducted during the Uranium Weapons Conference 2003 held in Hamburg, Germany.
For more information on depleted uranium weapons see:
Pandora Depleted Uranium Research Project
Campaign Against Depleted Uranium
The Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU) was launched in 1999 to focus specifically on trying to achieve a global ban on the manufacture, testing, and use of depleted uranium weapons. See their What is Depleted Uranium?
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – Australia
Traprock Peace Center