Madrid (EFE).- The journalist from the newspaper El País Gloria Pallarés Vinyoles has been awarded this Thursday with the Saliou Traoré Prize for Journalism in Spanish on Africa for her work on the Chinese extraction of illegal minerals in northern Congo, published in that Spanish newspaper on June 1, 2002.
The award jury, convened by Agencia EFE and Casa África, chose this report, entitled “This is how China extracts illegal timber and minerals in northern Congo”, for being “innovative” in terms of the subject and a “complaint” of what the Chinese presence means for Africa.
The winning work, from EL PAÍS/Planeta Futuro, obtained evidence of how different Chinese-owned companies are illegally extracting natural resources in the tropical forests of the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, such as precious minerals and strategic metals destined for the world market.
The report explains that there are logging with à la carte permits and that they extract and export minerals against Congolese legality and infringe labor and human rights, with the connivance of individuals in power. Specifically, the afrormosia, an endangered species that international demand led to extinction in West African countries.
The jury has considered that it is an “excellent” investigation, carried out over time and full of testimonies that give a voice to those who suffer from the extraction of these minerals, for which mercury is used in waters that communities use for fishing, bathing and drink.
The team in charge of deciding the winner has been formed by Gabriela Cañas, president of the EFE Agency; José Segura, General Director of Casa África; Nicolás Castellano, journalist from Cadena Ser; Felipe Sahagún, professor and expert in International Relations; Teresa Fernández de la Vega, president of the Women for Africa Foundation and Juan Manuel Pardellas, General Director of Communication of the Canary Islands Government.
33 candidacies for an award that grows
A total of 33 candidates were eligible for the V Saliou Traoré Award, which bears the name of the veteran Senegalese correspondent for EFE who died on October 13, 2018.
The award is endowed with 5,000 euros and a commemorative statuette, designed by the Spanish artist María de Frutos, and sponsored by the regional government of the Canary Islands (Atlántico), Cabildo insular de Gran Canaria and Naviera Armas Trasmediterránea.
The jury has generally valued the high quality of the works presented in this fifth edition of the award, which, according to Segura, “shows how it has been consolidated with everyone’s effort, something that leads us to affirm that there is a way forward in front of”.
The president of EFE has highlighted the winning report, a job “well done”, which reveals the “exploitation” carried out by China in Africa, and the fact that “foreign countries inoculate corruption. Unfortunately, China is not the only country engaging in such exploitative practices.”
“The fact that it is a woman who wins this award is very important, for journalistic work on the ground and not a man, as is more common,” Nicolás Castellano stressed.
The winner, Gloria Pallarés, is a specialist in environmental journalism and global development and the award-winning work has been supported by the Pulitzer Center.
Felipe Sahagún also highlighted the fact that the award-winning, exhaustive work is part of a series, the treatment that has been given to it and the exhaustive work on the ground that has lasted for months.
The article is part of a series of topics on forest governance in the Congo Basin. The series exposed illegal mining, logging and carbon governance irregularities affecting a total of 5 million hectares, an area equivalent to the size of Costa Rica.
The series’ findings have influenced a macro investigation into the legality of Congolese forest concessions funded by the EU, the world’s largest donor to the conservation of central African forests.
For her part, Teresa Fernández de la Vega has stressed the importance of the denunciation she represents of China’s presence in Africa, and how they are “destroying” it.
“This award will be a very important impact to publicize what is happening with China there,” he said, and highlighted the “novel” focus of the work.
Journalism on the ground, in mind
The members of the jury have also taken into account for their decision the value of the work in the field, with their own sources and official documents.
Juan Manuel Pardellas has also highlighted that the report is investigative “pure and maintained over time.” In addition, he took into account when choosing those candidates who presented “the positive, modern and inspiring face of Africa.”
The jury has pointed out the difficulty of choosing high-quality prizes and has wanted to give a special mention to the television report “Protected by a new sun”, published in the RTVE corporation on June 21, 2022, on the situation of women in Africa and the help that is passed from one to another to empower themselves.
The V Saliou Traoré Prize will be awarded on October 13, at Casa África, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.