Latuff

Carlos Latuff is a famous cartoonist, a political cartoonist admired by many. Here he was interviewed for the Foreign Policy Journal 

 

I don't trade ideology for money' says Cartoonist Carlos Latuff
A hero of freedom of speech, boycotted by the corporate mainstream media that are resistant to the astringent truth: this is the most precise introduction I can give about Carlos Latuff. Born in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he is an artist of conscience whose artistic commitment and morality prevented him from becoming the pawn of imperialism. Carlos Latuff is a world-renowned cartoonist who has long brought into existence artistic works and cartoons in which the footsteps of creativity, novelty, intelligence and decency can be noticeably traced. He has never been given the opportunity to showcase his matchless cartoons in the New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, BBC or CNN. However, the narrow hallways of personal blogs and independent media outlets that allowed his cartoons to see the light of publicity, presented the world with a man of genuineness and reality, known by those who seek something beyond the outdated, obsolete propaganda of the West.

Israeli Peace Plan by Carlos Latuff
Israeli Peace Plan by Carlos Latuff

Carlos Latuff has drawn numerous cartoons that depict the pain of oppressed nations around the world; from the Palestinians being suffocated under the Israeli occupation to the Iranians being subjected to spates of psychological operations co-manufactured by the White House and Tel Aviv.

Following is the complete text of my interview with Carlos Latuff, conducted for Iran’s best-selling newspaper Jame-Jam, where we extensively discussed his intellectual mission and the prospects for his art.

Kourosh Ziabari: Dear Carlos; it seems that you’ve dedicated your entire mission to independent, freelance journalism, and one can clearly figure out that you are not usually paid for what you draw for the magazines, newspapers, and websites since a complete set of your cartoons and caricatures are  available on your website for free. Would you accede to draw cartoons that are contrary to your ideological mindset should you be offered remarkable, irresistible payments?

Carlos Latuff: No way! I will only make artwork according my own leftist beliefs. I don’t trade ideology for money. I’ve worked for the leftist trade union press since 1990; that’s how I make a living. The mainstream media would never pay me for making anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist artworks. But I have what I call “artistic activism”, producing cartoons and making them available on the web for free of charge reproduction; cartoons with a different point of view from the Western mainstream media; cartoons exposing what Michael Moore would call “the awful truth”. I’ve already refused payments for my drawings about Palestine. Solidarity can’t be measured by dollars.

KZ: You’ve received serious death threats from Zionist circles and Israeli groups a number of times. Would you please explain for us a little about the details of these threats and the consequential events that followed them? Have you ever thought of putting aside your professional and artistic mission in order to preserve your safe, tranquil life?

CL: In 2006 a website associated to Likud published a long article about me, my art, and my support for Palestinians, and labeled me as an agent at the service of a supposed “Iranian propaganda machine”, comparing me with Nazi propagandists. The author of the article asked why Israel didn’t take care of me before and urged readers to take steps against me. Let me be straight, I really don’t care about threats. Along the Palestinian cause I also support human rights organizations against police brutality in Brazil. This kind of activism alone could put me in high risk of life. But, as I said, I don’t care; I will continue with my artistic support, ’cause if Zionists worldwide are pissed off about my cartoons, it’s because I’m doing something right. Death can stop me yes, but not my cartoons. That’s why I make them run free around the world through Internet.

KZ: You belong to a prosperous country that is the 8th largest economic power of the world and the 10th largest trade partner of the United States. Brazil also maintains normal ties with Israel, and this is something many anti-war and anti-imperialism activists dislike. Coming from such a country, you profoundly grasped the essence of oppressed nations’ suffering and sympathized with them wholeheartedly. How did you rise from Brazil and came to assist oppressed nations?

CL: I grew up in the suburbs of Rio and my parents worked hard to give me study and a humble but decent life. Being the 8th economic power makes no difference to the ordinary people in Brazil. We have poverty, corruption, criminal and police violence, influent and strong landowners in the countryside, people dying of dengue fever and malaria, and a mainstream media which is always trying to convince public opinion that everything is okay with capitalism. As someone living in a Third World country I can’t turn a blind eye to this situation here and in other parts of the world. Last year I was in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, places very similar to Brazilian slums (favelas). It wasn’t hard to realize that the language of poverty is universal, as the solidarity with people in need must be universal.

KZ: You’ve for years cooperated with a number of media outlets in Western countries and can precisely estimate the veracity of the slogan “freedom of expression” in the countries who introduce themselves as the harbingers of liberty and tolerance. I clearly remember the spates of verbal and political attacks on the artists who had participated in Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Even the then United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan had condemned the contest and this could simply demonstrate the lopsidedness of “freedom” which they claim to be the pioneers of. What’s your idea about that? Are Western media outlets really free?

West Bank Barrier Cartoon by Carlos Latuff
Carlos Latuff's prize-winning entry in the International Holocaust Cartoon Competition 2006.

CL: Still today I’ve been accused of denying the Holocaust because of that artwork for which I won the second place in the Iranian cartoon contest. It’s funny since the cartoon shows a Palestinian elder wearing a concentration camp uniform, which not only affirms the existence of the Nazi Holocaust but also makes a comparison between it and the suffering of the Palestinians. I believe that this contest had exposed the Western’s double standard. When you ridicule and attack Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Islam or Muslims, then this is called “satire”, “humor”, “freedom of speech”, whatever. Joking about Islam is pretty acceptable. Islamophobia is popular in the US and Europe, especially after September 11. However the same freedom you have for making cartoons about Islam and its Prophet you won’t have while dealing with Holocaust and Israel. If you dare draw Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians, you will be automatically labeled as anti-Semitic. While the Muhammad cartoons were wide spread in Europe, the Holocaust cartoons weren’t reproduced in any European newspaper [Editor’s note: the Danish newspaper Jyllands-posten published six of the least controversial cartoons].

KZ: Your stance towards Iran’s nuclear program (Iran intends to meet its energy, electricity needs through nuclear reactors) and Israel’s nuclear program (Israel possess up to 200 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists) is delicately accurate and specific, indicating your extensive acquaintance with the regional developments. Iran is being lethally pressured to halt its civilian nuclear program and Israel has been unconditionally safeguarded by Washington to keep up with its military atomic program. What’s your take on this?

"Prevent Holocaust: BOMB IRAN" by Carlos Latuff
"Prevent Holocaust: BOMB IRAN" by Carlos Latuff

CL: In fact all this turmoil about the Iranian nuclear program has more to do with the fear of the US, Europe, and Israel of having a country in the Middle East with a nuclear capability. It will change the geopolitics in the region, since no Arab country was ever allowed by the US to have anything nuclear. Only Israel can have not only nuclear plants but also nukes, immune to inspections and international law. Whether Iran will develop nuclear capabilities for civilian or military use, it doesn’t matter. The point is, if the US, Europe and Israel are so concerned about threats to peace, why don’t they start proposing sanctions against Pakistan and India, since both countries have had a nuclear arms race for a long time? Because both countries are allies of Washington? Why not a single word about the Israeli nuclear program? Why was Mordecai Vanunu prevented from speaking about it?

Kourosh Ziabari

Kourosh Ziabari
Kourosh Ziabari is an award-winning Iranian journalist and reporter. He has won three prizes in Iran's National Press Festival. In August 2015, he was named the recipient of the Senior Journalists Seminar  Fellowship by the Hawaii-based East-West Center. In June 2015, he was selected by Deutsche Welle and European Youth Press to be part of a team of 16 young reporters and journos from different countries covering the Global Media Forum 2015 in Bonn, Germany. Kourosh is also the recipient of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Fellowship in Cultural Journalism 2015 by the FNPI Foundation in Colombia. Kourosh is a staff writer and reporter at Iran Review. He is the Iran correspondent of Fair Observer, an international media corporation based in California. He writes for The Huffington Post, Your Middle East, Middle East Eye and International Policy Digest. Follow him on Twitter at @KZiabari

 

 

Carlos Latuff ex Wiki
Carlos Latuff
(born November 30, 1968) is a Brazilian freelance political cartoonist.[1] His works deal with an array of themes, including anti-Zionism, anti-globalization, anti-capitalism, and anti-U.S. military intervention. He is best known for his images depicting the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and, more recently, the Arab Spring events.

Some of Latuff's cartoons comparing Israel to Nazism have been accused of being antisemitic by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and some authors.[2][3][4] Latuff has dismissed the charges of antisemitism as "a strategy for discrediting criticism of Israel.",[5] while book reviewer Eddie Portnoy in The Forward has stated that while his message is "furiously critical" of Israel, it is not anti-Semitic.

Early life
Latuff was born in the neighborhood of São Cristóvão in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,[6] and is of Lebanese ancestry; in his own words he has "Arab roots".[1]

History
Latuff started as a cartoonist for leftist publications in Brazil. After watching a 1997 documentary about the Zapatistas in Mexico, he sent a couple of cartoons to them, which received a positive response. He stated that after this experience, he decided to start a website and engage in "artistic activism". Graham Fowell, ex-chairman of the Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain, compares his work to Banksy, an English-based graffiti artist, political activist and film director.

Latuff has been arrested three times in Brazil for his cartoons about the Brazilian police, in which he criticized police brutality.[7]

In 2011, Latuff was contacted by activists in Egypt. Latuff stated that he was encouraged when he saw some of his cartoons depicted in the January 25 Egyptian protests, a couple of days after he made them. According to Reuters, this helped him become "a hero of the tumultuous Arab Spring with rapid-fire satirical sketches".[8]

Published works
Latuff's works have been posted mostly by himself on Indymedia websites and private blogs. However, some of them have been picked up and featured in magazines such as the Brazilian edition of
Mad,[9] Le Monde Diplomatique[10] and the The Toronto Star.[11] In addition, a few of his works were published on Arab websites and publications such as the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance (JAMI) magazine, the Saudi magazine Character, the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar, among others.[12]

Themes

Libya`s future
Political cartoon applying the domino theory to the Arab Spring. This cartoon has been mentioned in a Domino Theory article about old Communist-Capitalist wars including Vietnam, Korea and so on.

A vast number of Latuff's cartoons are related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which according to Latuff : "became important to Latuff after he visited the area in the late 1990s."[13] These cartoons are heavily critical of Israel[13] and have drawn criticism and allegations of uninhibited utilization of "judeophobic stereotypes in the service of the anti-globalisation movement."[14]

In his We are all Palestinians (Arabic: كلنا فلسطينيون‎) cartoon series, various famous oppressed groups, including Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, Black South Africans during Apartheid, Native Americans, and Tibetans in China, are all shown stating "I am Palestinian."[15]

Latuff has also made a series of cartoons that portray Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,[16][17][18] United States President George W. Bush, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and British PM Tony Blair among other politicians as monsters and as Nazis.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25]

Latuff is also critical of US military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has made promotional cartoons for anti-US militancy as well as cartoons alleging US actions have been motivated by the chance of making profit from oil. Among the cartoons, there are also some that portray US soldiers as severely wounded, dead, or paraplegic or as harming Iraqi civilians.