23 Febrero 2017 13:53
His story is one of survival under almost impossible conditions. He and the other survivors were stranded for 72 days in the Andes at an altitude of 3,600 metres after the plane carrying the Old Christians rugby team and their family and friends crashed into the snowy mountain range.
During an interview for the Spanish TV programme Chester in Love, Páez spoke about the Andes plane crash (the inspiration behind the 1993 movie Alive) and the eventual rescue of 16 survivors. One of the most shocking moments of the interview was when he explained that the doctors were the ones that decided who they should all eat. 'And I think they picked whoever was nearest,' he said.
'We didn't cook the meat. Later we managed to cook it, but at first we ate it raw,' he explained, before adding: 'It tastes like beef, exactly the same. I know because when we got home we all tried raw beef and it tasted the same.'
The survivors had no food and no form of shelter or heating. They did have a radio however, and that was how they found out that the rescue attempt had been abandoned and that they were all presumed dead. It was at this point that they realised they'd have to resort to eating human flesh if they wanted to stay alive. The moment of realisation was immortalised in the movie Alive:
'If they're not looking for us anymore, we need to save ourselves. We need to eat.'
'The ones who've died.'
'No. I can't.'
'The only thing left lying there in the snow is meat, Antonio.'
'I won't do it. I'd rather die.'
Páez said that they didn't feel the need to eat in private, as if they were doing something shameful. 'You grow used to it. There comes a point when you just sit on top of the bodies so you don't get wet from the snow.'
The interviewer reminded Páez that many of those he ate had been his friends, and asked how that had made him feel. Páez explained that the doctors prepared the meat so that the rest of them didn't know who they were eating. 'We made a pact that we wouldn't say who they were.' But after the rescue they found out.
'A relative of one of my friends asked me: "Carlitos, I'd like to know if you ate my son." I told him I had and he thanked me for my sincerity and that was the end of the conversation,' recalls Páez.
At 63, Carlos Páez has given hundreds of conferences about his experience as a survivor. 'The worst thing is when they don't ask me [about eating human flesh] because they're too shy,' explained Carlos. In business conferences, I often bring up the subject myself, just to get it out of the way.'