On May 3, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans took to the street to march against President Nicolás Maduro’s proposed rewrite of the constitution.
Clashes between protestors and authorities left more than 300 injured, and one dead.
On the day, Venezuelan photographer Ronaldo Schemidt was there to capture what was happening on the streets, and one captured moment of history would go on to secure him the World Press Photo of 2017 title.
It’s a pretty intense photo:
You can see the six finalists of the World Press Photo Contest here.
The image depicts protester José Víctor Salazar Balza engulfed in fire. He was standing near a motorcycle on fire when it exploded, reports Washington Post:
“It’s a classical photo, but it has an instantaneous energy and dynamic,” said Magdalena Herrera, director of photography at Geo France and the chair of this year’s jury. “The colors, the movement, and it’s very well composed, it has strength. I got an instantaneous emotion.”
“It’s quite symbolic, actually,” said National Geographic’s Whitney Johnson, another member of the jury. “The man, he has a mask on his face. He’s come to sort of represent not just himself and himself on fire, but sort of this idea of Venezuela burning.”
Part of a series that Schemidt shot within a span of two minutes, the successive images show Salazar Balza wrapped in flames, running for help:
A few of Schemidt’s colleagues were at the scene to capture the incidents following the above series, during which Salazar Balza received help from fellow demonstrators:
“A few days afterward I saw him on social media, inviting people to continue the protests on the streets,” Schemidt told the British Journal of Photography. “I read he was recovering from his burns.”
In total, 163 people died during Venezuela’s 2017 protests – and José Víctor Salazar Balza is lucky he wasn’t one of them.
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