GABRIELA TRUJILLO, 14.08.2020
Gabriela Trujillo hat im Juli bei HITS (House of Insurtech Switzerland AG) angefangen zu arbeiten und ist somit eine Arbeitskollegin vom LINGS-Team. Sie ist passionierte Fotografin und war vor der Zeit in der Schweiz, Journalistin in ihrem Heimatland, Venezuela. Was sie dabei erlebt hat, liest du in diesem Blogpost (auf englisch).
It was 2017 and I was returning to Caracas after studying abroad. I had majored in Media and Communications and had discovered a huge passion for photography. Little did I know what important role this would play in my life way down the road.
That year, the socio-political and economic crisis in Venezuela had come to its boiling point, again. Venezuelans have protested against the regime for over 20 years and this time seemed to be no different from what has been seen before. The people began to rise up, strike and riot, demanding supplies for their basic needs. Back then these have been nearly impossible to access or had gone “missing” for almost all of the 3 years prior. The people were furious, but mostly they were just tired of the injustice surrounding them.
The whole country came to a full stop again. The main streets were blocked with protesters trying to get their voices heard, but the National Guard was always ready to suppress them. Protests became riots, flags became fires and fights between the National Guard and protesters were none stop, leading to complete chaos. I felt frustrated that no one abroad knew what was going on. People were getting hurt, even dying, at the hands of the police, but no news channels were broadcasting any of it. So I decided to go out, grabbed my camera and went on my first attempt to document these tragic events.
The first morning I started my coverage was a complete disaster because as soon as the protesters walked peacefully on the streets, the National Guard bombed everyone with tear gas. The crowd panicked and everyone ran. There I was, as naive as it gets, with a camera and a cellphone to show, through social media, the brutality deployed against the people on the streets. Surrounded by people running and children crying out from the tear gas in their eyes and throats, I tried to take as much footage as I could. I was not adequately prepared for such a violent engagement and, as the tear gas started to badly affect me too, I ran as the crowd did. I lost my cellphone that day, someone stole it. I was devastated for what I just witnessed; my frustration had escalated to levels I had never experienced before. I went home and even though I only managed to take some pictures, I knew it was only the beginning for me and the devastation I witnessed, but I found my calling. This was my new job now, shedding light on unimaginable tragedy.
I went home and called a good friend of mine who was an experienced documentary photographer. He had been involved in situations like this before, and I asked for his help and advice. He started by telling me how crazy I was to attend that “war zone” without any protection for me or my gear. He then continued: “Next time, we go together. Just follow my lead”, and follow I did. Next thing I knew, we were back in the thick of things on a daily basis, together, along with another group of freelance journalists, recording every move and documenting the atrocities that took place in the capital.
The country stopped in 2017. People protested every day for almost five months straight and we were documenting every minute of it. By the end of the protests and carnage, 285 people died at the hands of the National Guard. Countless innocent people got hurt while numerous journalists were targeted and abused. My friend got shot, I got shot, camera lenses got broken; but the pictures went out for the world to see.
My photos were published on an American news website. My friend’s photos went viral on Social Media and other internationals newspapers. The world found out that Venezuela was, and still is today- caught in a major crisis. For a brief moment I became a journalist who could tell the story of my country’s tragic reality.