Interview with Carlos Latuff
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Carlos Latuff is a political cartoonist , born in November 30, 1968, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2006, Latuff placed second and won $4,000 in the Iranian International Holocaust Cartoon Competition with an image comparing the Israeli West Bank barrier with the Nazi concentration camps.

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B. Heine : How did you become a professional cartoonist?
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Carlos Latuff : I used to make drawings since I was a child. I always dreamed to become a professional artist. However my family thought it would be hard to achieve this goal because, for them, you could only be an artist if you had influent people supporting you. And since my family was poor and with no influent friends, my chances would be scarce. I grew up doing different jobs, nothing related to art, until 1989, when I find a job as an illustrator in a small advertisement agency in downtown Rio de Janeiro. After one year working there, I left my job and started a freelancer career as illustrator for Leftist trade union papers.
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Which papers, magazines or websites do you work for?
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I make cartoons for local trade union papers, that's what I do for a living. But people know me more for my voluntary non-profit artistic supporting socio-political movements, making artworks which are freely reproduced in many ways (papers, magazines, t-shirts, posters, stickers, etc.) all around the world.

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What elements usually strike you and inspire you in the political news?
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Just pick one: Capitalism, Imperialism, state terrorism, submission of the weak to the strong, war, human rightsviolations, unpunished crimes...
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Do you think there should be limits to the cartoonist’s freedom of expression? If so, what are the « redlines » according to you?
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I wouldn't say limits but I think it’s important for any cartoonist to be driven by good sense. When making a clearly offensive cartoon it's important to determine if you willoffend ONLY the right persons (fascists, bourgeoises, right-wingers, conservatives...).

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Is there only one freedom of expression or are there several ones? (Regarding the cultural differences from one country to another)
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"Freedom of expression" is a word that has been understood in many ways, just like "democracy". People give interpretations according to their own concepts. I think freedom of expression is the unconditional right of peopleto say whatever they want, however, one must assume responsibility for everything said.
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What do you think about the Holocaust cartoon contest organized by the Iranian newspaper Hamshari, in response to the caricatures of Muhammad published in several Europeans papers?
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For me it was a chance for making cartoons dealing with the West's double standards (OK for making Mohammed caricatures but outrage when drawing Holocaust cartoons) and expose the new Holocaust against Palestinian people.

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Have some of your drawings been censored? In which circumstances?
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Yes, sometimes, mostly on the Internet. For more than once I had anti-Zionist cartoons labelled as "anti-Semitic" and banned from some pages. Fortunately it's not that frequent, and on the Internet you can always mislead the censorship. If I have a cartoon removed from one page, I will find 10 more pages whereI can publish it. The Web is the theatre for virtual guerrilla tactics.

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Do you have any self-censorship? What are the most difficult subjects to represent?
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No, I haven't. Difficult subjects are everywhere, especially in difficult times like we have today. Denunciating Israeli crimes against Palestinians is probably one of (if not the most) difficult tasks for a cartoonist, because it will make you an easy target for all sorts of defamation campaigns from Zionists and other creeps. But I believe that defending Palestinian human rights worth any price. Zionist "anti-Semitism" labels are irrelevant when I have in mind that somehow my art can raise Palestinian’s morale and give them strength to resist to the enormous pressure.

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Do you think the cartoon is a political force that can make people change their behaviour?
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That's what I hope.

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Do you think that the cartoonist is an artist or rather a journalist, or may be both?
Both, I am sure about that. And I can tell you more. When a cartoonist is also an activist, then he isn’t only beinga witness of events, but an active participant of History.

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According to you, does he have to make people laugh or to make them think?
Better if making them laugh AND think. A good satire is the most powerful explosive in the world.
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--> Interview by Benjamin Heine
--> The site of Carlos Latuff : http://latuff2.deviantart.com