Who is @CarlosLatuff?

The Artistic Hand of the Arab Spring, Carlos Latuff

The Artistic Hand of the Arab Spring, Carlos Latuff

The Brazilian Artist with an Arab Heart.

To any and all following the Arab Spring intently, one name rings true in every person’s ear (and eyes), the visual delights of one Carlos Latuff, the Brazilian leftist caricaturist who’s delightful, or obscene artwork (depending on the viewers point of view) has been bombarding media from Facebook to Twitter, to even printed media and t-shirts.

Who is Carlos Latuff?

Little was known about this champion of commoners for quite some time, by myself even, until an interview was conducted by Al Arabiya with the artist who for all intents and purposes, may be in our own backyard furiously scribbling away after every event that occurs, his artwork always up to date and straight to the point.

My first interaction with Carlos came over twitter, he had been bewildered at the fact that his artwork was being reproduced on t-shirts in Egypt after the incident with the Egyptian Spiderman taking down the Israeli flag off of the Embassy. I had replied to his tweet and suggested he start charging royalties for reprints. He replied and refused, saying he wasn’t doing it for the money. There began my first feeling of respect for this man.

That and the fact that he retweet’s peoples insults towards him, as well as their commendations. I remember recently sending out a tweet directed at him that me and my cousins were heading towards Tahrir Square, amidst the amok of the past few weeks, he replied asking us to be careful. He is not afraid to respond to critics, nor is he afraid of “negative” press, for he truly is working from the heart, for little or no monetary reward, expressing the views of the oppressed, illustrating the truth that people know but are afraid to admit.

The gist of the interview, which can be found in Arabic here is translated in the following paragraphs:

The educated amongst the Arabs are always discussing the works of the Brazilian Caricaturist Carlos Latuff in their tweets over Twitter, their discussions on Facebook, or even during their meetings with their friends for coffee and their admiration for his artwork, some even call him the Brazilian “Naji Al-Ali”.

Despite this, not many know the full truth about Carlos Latuff. Some believe he is of Lebanese origin, others believe he is originally Palestinian, a few think he is Russian, and even mispronounce his name.

November 30 is Carlos’s birthday, the Brazilian caricaturist of Lebanese origin, aged 43, Arabiya.net conducted a telephone interview with him, requesting him to introduce himself to his growing adoring public, numbering in the tens of thousands of educated activists such as himself.

He mentioned that he does not reside in Rio de Janeiro as some believe, but in the suburbs of San Christophan where he was born, 15KM from Rio, where he lives with his parents as he is still single.

Latuff is the family name of his mothers grandfather, Najib Latuff, who immigrated to Brazil as a teenager in the 1920s from the mountainous area of Al-Shouf in Lebanon using a Turkish passport, where he resided and worked in the business sector of Joez de Forra, in the state of Minas Jerias bordering Rio de Janeiro. He passed away in the early 1960s leaving behind one son and seven daughters, one of which is Carlos’s mother, and only one carrying an Arabic name, Basima.

The reason the grandfather used a Turkish passport was because at the time he was of the ottoman empire, as most Lebanese, and that is why some Brazilians used the name “Torko” for any Lebanese person arriving to Brazil during the 1940s, before Lebanon gained independence from France in 1946.

Carlos’s father is a native Brazilian, not of Lebanese origin, he is retired now and goes by the name of Edmondo Pereza De Silva, and his mother, of Lebanese origin, whose name is Seba  Satiana Maria Aparaseida Latuff De Suza, who does not know Arabic at all, much like her only son Carlos, who had two brothers that passed away at birth before seeing the light of day.

The first time Carlos visited an Arab country was in 1999, where he spent 2 weeks backpacking across Palestine, in Ramallah and Bethlehem and Khalil Hebron (thank you @Te3esh), then he visited Jordan for two weeks in 2009 on invitation from a human rights group.

As he was close to Lebanon at the time, he paid a quick visit to the country where his grandfather was born, but instead of visiting Beirut he was taken to El-Badawi camp for Palestinian refugees near Tripoli  in Northern Lebanon, where he stayed for two days after which he returned to Brazil, only then did he take an interest in his internet followers as he found the internet to be a suitable platform to launch is caricatures to the Arab World.

He earns his bread and butter from freelance works with his caricatures that he sells to leftist newspapers in Brazil. Arabiya.net informed him that many believe he is a millionaire due to the abundance of his works, to which he exclaimed in utter bewilderment that he only earns enough to put food on the table, and that he makes in between $1,000 – $1,700, sometimes less per month, and that he does not have a car.

Carlos, a leftist and supporter of the Arab Spring even if he were blind folded, that he does not think of money much. He told Arabiya.net that some Arabs, especially Palestinians, offered him payment for his artwork that supports their cause, but he refused, that is why people assume he is a millionaire, and he hopes that people will change their opinion now.

He also said that the inheritance left by his grandfather from Lebanon was very meager, what little was his mothers share was used to buy a colored TV set.

(authors note: names and translations are done roughly, I am unsure of the accuracy)

I believe this man is worthy of applause and appreciation. He certainly has mine.

Hats off to you oh Revolutionary Leftist Artistic Caricaturist of the Arab Spring, the Brazilian with an Arab Heart, Carlos Latuff.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

September 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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