Interviewed by Inva Hasanaliaj and Eva Reitmeier, MA Journalism Falmouth University
Young Venezuelans travelled to Peru in search of work, but as the pandemic devastated an already fragile economy, the only jobs they found were collecting the bodies of COVID-19 victims.
Peruvian journalist Guillermo Galdos filmed as a team in hazmat suits carried body bags out of people’s homes, loaded them into a minibus and headed for Lima’s overflowing crematoria. These shocking, heartbreaking scenes distinguished his extended report for Channel 4 News, making him a finalist for the Rory Peck News Award 2020.
“I remember going around Lima, we had like 17 bodies in the back of this van and they were listening to salsa…you know, like a normal thing,” recalled Galdos. “I was thinking all the time: there are 17 dead people in the back, I couldn’t believe it – kids used to go to school on this bus!” The journalists followed strict medical precautions, but veteran conflict journalist Galdos found covering the virus, an invisible ‘enemy’, as challenging as working in a war zone.
“When you go to war and you see the guys walking with rifles and machine guns, you see them firing, you see where they are, you can hear the bullets, but not in this case,” he said.
Reporting from his home country, Galdos said it was clear that the poorest were worst affected by the pandemic, but that many more people in Peru would suffer its long-term effects. “One of the biggest issues that hasn’t been tackled here [is] the number of people that are going back to extreme poverty.”