Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt received on Thursday the World Press Photo of the year in Amsterdam, one of the most prestigious in photojournalism, for a photograph shot in May 2017 during the protests in Venezuela while working for Agence France-Presse (AFP) . In the photograph a protester appears in flames, in front of a graffiti in which a weapon appears shooting at the word peace.
I was on my back when the explosion happened. I felt the heat and I just instinctively took my camera, turned around and started firing into that fire around me, not knowing yet that there was a man on fire, describes Ronaldo the moment he shot the best photograph of the year.
The victim was José Víctor Salazar, 28 years old, he appears to be running surrounded by flames when he was hit by a strean of gasoline from a Bolivarian National Guard motorcycle, which was captured and burned by some protesters with a Molotov cocktail.
Schemidt's photograph, which won the spot singles category, competed with five other nominees, who recorded the Westminster bombing in London; the drama of the Rohingya refugees in Myanmar; a victim of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria; and two more photos of the liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State.
A compatriot and friend of Ronaldo, Juan Barreto, competed equally for another category with a photograph taken in the same place and at the same moment. Barreto won the third prize in the category 'Current stories'.
The AFP photojournalist resides in Mexico. But he returns from time to time to his native country to document relevant news.
When he was nominated, the AFP asked him about the situation in his country, Schemidt replied: There are no medicines, the economic, political and social situation is terrible, insecurity is uncontrollable. I have my family there and they are living that in their own flesh. My parents, who are older, need certain medicines that do not exist right now in the country or are unpayable. They suffer the consequences of food shortages, eat technically what they find, not what they want. That affects me because it's not just anyone, it's my family.
Venezuela is living a social, political and humanitarian crisis unprecedented in its modern history. Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country due to lack of medicines, security and basic social guarantees. 157 people died during the protests against the government of Nicolás Maduro during 2017.