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02 / 09 / 2009

Walter Astrada

On February 7th, 2009 Walter Astrada has witnessed the violent confrontation between the police and Rajoelina’s supporters, oponents of the government in Madagascar.

Walter Astrada

Walter Astrada was born in 1974 in Buenos Aires. After taking photography courses at school he started an internship in La Nacion newspaper (Argentina). He then left the country, started traveling and working as a freelancer. Walter is interested in conflicts but also enjoys covering what affects people in general showing their sufferance. He joined the Associated Press in Bolivia, in Argentina, in Paraguay and in the Dominican Republic. In 2006 he moved to Spain. He also works as a stringer for the Agence France Presse.

Walter was in Congo in January 2009. He was asked to go to Madagascar to cover the political tensions in the country. His first days there were calm, he took daily-life photographs. But on Saturday the 7th, Rajoelina proclaimed himself leader of the head of a Supreme Transitional Authority. Rajoelina mobilized his supporters to take to the streets of Antananarivo to demand the President Ravalomanana's ousting on the grounds of his alleged "autocratic" style of government.

The demonstration went calm at the beginning but seemingly from nowhere demonstrators were shot down as they started running to the presidential palace. The moment lasted about forty seconds, declared Walter. And what shocked him the most was the fact that the police started shooting again people trying to help the ones first injured. Walter then went back to the hotel, feeling too much in jeopardy and afraid of being arrested because of all the photographs he had taken. But nobody tried to find him. It seems they wanted to show the world how violent they could get.

As for his next projects Walter will travel to Asia. He recently won the 2009 Alexia foundation professional grant for his proposal to document violence against women in India.

Jim Lefeuvre