Julio Garcia Pérez

"In the beginning it was a lot of information for me to take in."

"My name is Julio Garcia Pérez and I come from Guatemala in Central America. At the beginning of August I received an email from RSF Germany in which they invited me to apply for the scholarship programme. I thought to myself: yes, I’ll give it a go, I have nothing to loose.

I never thought that I would be chosen among all the other applicants. But on 3 October I left Guatemala and arrived in Berlin one day later. Elias and Tillmann were waiting for me at the airport. I was so happy to finally meet them in person. On that same afternoon we went for a pizza together with Marie from Brazil.

The official scholarship programme began on October 9 with individual conversations about our expectations and goals. When the training began it was a lot of information for me to take in. I couldn’t follow everything step by step, but I think I understood the basics. It was a challenge for me and it still is, but I’m certain that I will be able to take what I have learned back with me and share it with my colleagues. I will put together a seminar that takes account of the situation in my country and is adapted to my colleagues’ needs, so that I can teach them what is relevant for us.

Berlin is an enchanting city; the people, the culture and the way of life are very interesting. I would like to return to Germany and experience it in the summer and learn more about its culture and also about digital security. Because the path of learning is a very long one that never ends.

I would like to thank the RSF Germany team once again for bringing me here, training me in digital security and making it possible for me to have all these wonderful experiences."

Julio García Pérez is a fellow on RSF Germany’s Berlin Scholarship Programme. He works as a reporter and photojournalist for the Guatemalan news company Prensa Comunitaria, which describes itself as feminist and autonomous.

In 2013 Pérez covered an attack on a group of human rights activists. He was then threatened and received death threats via fake profiles on Facebook. This is just one example of the intimidation and dangers that Pérez is exposed to in Guatemala.

The topics he covers include corruption and local conflicts in the Huehuetenango region where he lives. Tensions often arise in the north of this region, due in part to the mining of minerals by transnational companies and the displacement of the indigenous population. Pérez and his colleagues at Prensa Comunitaria have come under pressure because of their critical reporting. Pérez is taking part in the training course on digital security to learn to better protect himself and his information.