Peruvian Guillermo Galdos on Tuesday won the prestigious Rory Peck Award for freelance visual journalists for a report on Venezuelan immigrants forced to pick up the bodies of Covid-19 victims in Lima for a living.
Galdos’ report laid bare the ravages of the pandemic on the Peruvian capital by following a team of workers as they passed through poor neighbourhoods.
Britain’s Channel 4 News broadcast the report in July.
“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” one of the immigrants, who collected an average of 20 corpses a day, said in the report.
Galdos explained how the Peruvian health system was quickly overwhelmed by the pandemic, with only 500 intensive care beds for a population of 32 million.
“There was a lot of confusion and fears because we knew that our health system was not going to cope with the pandemic,” he said.
The team was one of many created to collect bodies from homes in the capital and transport them to already full mortuaries.
“I have covered wars and natural disasters all over the world but I never saw so much death in my life,” the journalist said after receiving his award.
Galdos has made television documentaries in South America for the past 20 years, focusing on human rights violations, police corruption, human trafficking and immigration.
The award was launched by the Rory Peck Trust in 1995 and rewards the best independent image reporters in the world of news.
The London-based foundation was created in memory of freelance cameraman Rory Peck, who was killed in Moscow in 1993.
This year’s prize was awarded online due to the pandemic, with the presentation available to view online at https://rorypecktrust.org/awards-2020.
The prize ceremony is one of the foundation’s main fundraising events.