Wolinski’s Last Cartoon?


A little over a week ago we celebrated the advent of the new year, but not like the rest of the world.  The three Cuban anti-terrorist heroes imprisoned in the United States had returned to our country several weeks before.

Wolinski, honorary president of Cuba Sí France, was at the Fête de l’Humanité every year.  Goodbye, Georges.

In his last comic strip, Wolinski dreamed of returning to Cuba, drinking rum, smoking a cigar, and dancing.

Friends of Cuba Pay Homage to Victims. Slain cartoonist Georges Wolinski was a great friend of Cuba.

We then asked the honorary president of Cuba Sí France, the organization that for 16 years had led the struggle in France to free René, Fernando, Antonio, Ramón, and Gerardo, to draw a cartoon for postcards to be distributed by the Cuban Embassy in France for the celebration of the 57th year of the Revolution.

Georges Wolinski, one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists assassinated by terrorist bullets on the seventh of January, agreed to illustrate a text that we gave him.  A paragraph written by José Martí in 1894 seemed appropriate for its continuing relevance: “An error in Cuba is an error in America, an error for all modern humanity.  Whoever rises up with Cuba today rises up for all time.”

The rest would be left up to Wolinski and his restless paintbrushes.  At the bottom of the card he drew a cartoon of Martí based on the bust that he kept in his private studio.

Two young women, one French and the other Cuban, dance hand in hand, each holding her own flag in the other hand, as a sign of friendship of our two peoples.  It’s as if they were singing the anthems La Marseillaise and La Bayamesa.

An additional symbol: the colors of the two insignias held in the hands of the girls are the same red, white, and blue.

Four of the 12 victims murdered by the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo on the seventh of January in Paris were irreverent cartoonists.  Any religion, political party, or president could be targeted by its satires, which were sometimes cutting but in no case a reason for killing.

Stéphane Charbonnier, known as Charb, Charlie Hebdo editor since 2009, had also in the past made postcards for the Cuban Embassy in Paris.  He was 47 years old.  Among the first images shown on TV after his assassination was one showing the Cuban flag in his office.  His column in the weekly was titled “Charb Does Not Like People,” and at one point he wrote his own epitaph without knowing it: “I have neither wife nor a car, and I would rather die standing than live on my knees.”

Jean Cabu, creator of the character of Grand Duduche, was one of the co-founders of Charlie Hebdo.  He was 76 years old.

Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous, was 58 years old.  His cartoons also appeared in publications such as Marianne and Fluide Glacial.

Wolinski was a co-founder and veteran of the group.  He was born in Tunis 80 years ago.  His works began to be well known in May 1968, the most revolutionary period in modern France.  He was also published in Le Nouvel Observateur and Paris Match among others, and his drawings appeared in many publicity campaigns.

Among those murdered was Bernard Maris, 68 years old, another Charlie Hebdo co-founder and deputy director of the weekly till 2008, specializing in articles about economy.  He continued to publish in Charlie Hebdo, often under the pseudonym of Uncle Bernard.

Charly Bouhana, acting president of Cuba Sí France, a close friend of Wolinski’s and lover of social satires like him who jokes about death, is sure that the cartoon dedicated to the Cuban Revolution is the artist’s last work.

Bouhana also tells me that we should still hold the luncheon originally planned to thank Wolinski for his postcard, at Chez Boboss, where we had enjoyed its good food and its proprietor’s excellent service before.  We could also consider it, says Charly, as his “last supper.”

Héctor Igarza is Cuba’s ambassador to France.  The original article “¿La última caricatura de Wolinski?” was first published by Trabajadores on 11 January 2015.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).