Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Yet soldiers now regret leaving Iraq so hastily following Mr Zapatero's election victory on March 11, three days after the terrorist train bombs in Madrid that killed 190 people and wounded 1,900. They also expressed disappointment over a lack of official recognition on their return and the public's seeming willingness to forget them and their mission.
Cpl José Francisco García Casteñeda, who previously completed three tours in Bosnia, said: "We left our coalition colleagues behind and abandoned the local people, who are living in wretched conditions."
Sitting at the same cafe table, Sgt Manuel García, 31, went further in his criticism of the withdrawal. "We felt used and let down by the politicians. Zapatero made the move purely for his own popularity," he said.
Iraq isn't America's second Vietnam, but it may be Spain's first.