The danger is an intrinsic element to the journalistic work of David Beriain (Artajona, Navarra, 1977). The reporter who has shown us the operation of the Salvadoran gangs, the drug trafficking networks of the Amazon and the Sinaloa cartel is now immersed in the most murky businesses of our country in the DMax docuseries ‘Clandestine in Spain’. As strange as it may seem coming from someone who moves in such dark realities, Beriain vindicates fear as an important part of his work. “It is not a question of proving yourself, but of limiting risk and maximizing the result,” he reflects.
In the DMax docuseries he shows that there are many clandestine businesses in Spain.
Almost all the things we have investigated abroad we have also found here. Spain, due to its geographical location, is the gateway for most of the cocaine that comes from Latin America, hashish from North Africa and clandestine immigration; It is the main producer and exporter of marijuana in Europe, one of the resting places of most of the international mafias and the third country in the consumption of prostitution in the world, only behind Thailand and Puerto Rico.
Don’t you think that this program is more shocking for the audience, being shot in Spain?
Terencio said that when one is human, nothing is alien to him. But, even if we don’t want to, we will always feel more of what is close to us. For us it has also been strong, because it is not the same to interview a hit man outside than to have breakfast at home, have a meeting at the office, interview a hit man in Madrid and then go home to watch a Champions League game. He’s a bit schizophrenic and scary.
Has it been easier now to access the protagonists?
Unlike. Our contact networks were abroad and we had to build them here, sometimes using the ones we had abroad. Also, fortunately in this country there are fewer criminals and they feel less unpunished, so they are more afraid to show themselves. Convincing them to speak up is more difficult.
And how do you get it?
With a lot of work and a lot of social engineering construction: you meet someone who takes you to someone who takes you to someone. Trying to find that intermediary who introduces you to that person because there is a trust. This network of contact is something that takes a long time and, in addition, you cannot go wrong. In these worlds, if you are wrong there is not much room for error.
I am not here to prove my worth to myself. Journalists are mere instruments at the service of the other’s story
Failure can cost you not only your life, but also that of those who have vouched for you.
Of course, we have to answer to those people who stand up for us. The typical meeting is like this: you go, you meet someone who gets you a meeting with that drug dealer and you explain to him what you want to do. And the guy says to you: «Very good, but I don’t know you. You are here because that person has brought you, and I am going to hold her responsible for what happens. And if you swing, I’m going to kill that person ».
What a responsibility.
You have to understand that in this world the guarantee is life. The narco has to trust a lot of that contact that has led us to him, but that contact has to trust a lot of us, and I have to trust a lot of the people who travel with me, and the channel, which he will respect. what we are doing, with no scope to refocus or manipulate it. If not, you respond with your life.
You have to be very brave to do what you do. Yet you vindicate fear.
I vindicate it because I believe that there is a current in Spain that does a lot of damage to journalism, in which it seems that this is a matter of laying eggs or ovaries. And it is not like that. Journalism specialized in conflict and violence is a technical specialty and the resolution of an equation: how much risk I take and how much information will I get. I am not here to prove my worth to myself. Journalists are mere instruments at the service of the other’s story.
We are not the protagonists.
It is not a question of proving yourself if you have what it takes to get there. That’s not the smart way to work, but rather to limit risk and maximize your bottom line.
Your family will have a hard time when they say goodbye to you.
My wife works with me and is often behind the camera when I experience extreme situations. I have had great luck in life, which is that my family and my wife have loved me in the most generous way that you can love, which is free. Even if that means a call saying I’m not coming back.
There is humanity everywhere, even in the darkest place
What have you learned about human nature working on ‘Clandestino’?
Latin! For those curious about human nature like me, the harsher facets of reality are the perfect place to try to learn more about the human being. Because in extreme circumstances there is no room for deception, people show themselves as they are. And what I have learned is that people are not black or white, but gray. And that there is humanity everywhere, even in the darkest place.
It is hard to see that humanity in murderers who acknowledge everything they have done.
These people are not killing all the time either and they do acts of friendship and love. When you put yourself in front of a murderer, you would like to feel that he is a different species from you, and what is very scary and dizzying is that, when you talk to him, you realize that we are similar. So sometimes you wonder what you would do in certain circumstances, and that scares a lot.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.