Behind the camera: Hector Rondon
Where: Puerto Cabello, Venezuela during the El Porteñazo uprising
Photo Summary: Navy chaplain Luis Padillo holding a wounded soldier as sniper bullets hit the ground around him
Picture Taken: June 4, 1962
Hector Rondon was covering the short-lived El Porteñazo uprising that took place in June 1962. Lasting for four days (2 June 1962 – 6 June 1962) naval units of the Venezuelan military rebelled taking the city of Puerto Cabello and its Solano Castle. The uprising against the Venezuelan government of Rómulo Betancourt was quickly crushed but not before Hector Rondon was able to capture this iconic photo which earned him the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Photography.
Taking the photo
While working in the Venezuela city of Caracas Hector Rondon heard of the Porteñazo uprising in the city of Puerto Cabello about 60 miles (97 km) away. A month earlier another uprising against the Betancourt government called, El Carupanazo, in Carúpano city, had been successively put down. Wanting to cover this second rebellion he raced to Puerto Cabello and arrived at the same time as government tanks were about to engage the Porteñazo rebels.
I found myself in solid lead for forty-five minutes … I was flattened against the wall while bullets were flying, when the priest appeared. The truth is, I don’t know how I took those pictures, lying on the ground.
Rondon shot the government soldier crawling his way up Navy chaplain Luis Padillo’s robe as Padillo looks in the direction of the rebel sniper fire. Government forces quickly took control of the town and over two days pounded the remaining rebels, that had taken cover in the Solano Castle, into submission. A handful that weren’t captured or killed were able to escape into the jungle.
Hector Rondon was born on November 25, 1933, in Bruzual, Venezuela. He worked at a glass factory, joined the military and then worked as a taxi driver before in 1955 he became the official Los Togues regional photographer for the city and state officials. In 1959 he joined the Caracas Newspaper, La Republica, as its photographer. He was the second non-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for photography.
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