Celia Guerrero is a soft-spoken journalist from Mexico. She works in Pie de Página, an independent mexican news site that focuses on human rights, violence against women and women’s rights issues.
I first met Celia in El Salvador, on the Foro Centroamericano de Periodismo (Foro CAP – central american journalism forum), while we were both attending the investigative journalism workshop that the event was offering. She was very kind and quiet, and later that week she was speaking at a panel of women who had been a part of the IWMF’s programs and fellowships. It was after hearing Celia and all the women journalists in that panel that I decided to come forward and talk to Juanita Islas, program coordinator for the Adelante initiative, then to come forward and offer to be a fixer for the IWMF in their first trip to Honduras last year, and then to apply to this fellowship, where Celia and I met again.
During the very intense Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT), in Celia’s native Mexico, we were put to the test in different endeavors, which Celia managed to pour all her might into. When we had our conversation, one of the things I asked her was what kind of sensations had this training provoked in her. “I believe the feelings this training generates in me are conflicted, because it does make me feel vulnerable but I generally feel vulnerable, so it also makes me feel that I have hidden abilities that I hadn’t discovered and that I can now turn to. I am much more interested in training more to stop thinking that I am vulnerable and do something instead,” she told me.
Our conversation took us to a lot of different topics, like being women journalists in our countries, México and Honduras, which are quite violent not only to those of us who work in journalism, but particularly and very harshly against women, regardless of their profession. We talked about all the challenges that we face when both of these characteristics come together in a single person, precisely like her case. “As a woman journalist in such a violent country we feel vulnerable and sometimes we don’t even know what to do about it,” she said. We discussed how knowing certain techniques makes a difference when in a situation of danger, and she expressed that these new tools will make her feel like she is able to defend herself from now on.
When I asked Celia what the biggest challenge during the training was for her, she immediately referred to the most intense and longest one we experienced. “The biggest challenge was to face those fears I have always had, like the possibility of being kidnapped, or the possibility of being attacked during the job. It’s a constant fear that never disappears, that is always there, that you learn to deal with in order to do your work but it’s always there.” I sympathized with her as this experience is also one that haunts me in my country.
Watching Celia work and relate to all of us has been a lovely experience. I admire her composure, her patience to unearth a story, her analytical gaze and her kindness towards me and the rest of the fellows. She is definitely an amazing journalist and a lovely human being.
– Nincy Perdomo