Translated by Katrina Hassan
This article belongs to The Insurgent Women series
Liliana López Foresi, is a reference point to commitment in journalism. Her journalism is not one that is bribed, or that destroys, but resists and is has solidarity when everything goes wrong. She is a myth, a legend of journalism that many of the Argentinian oligarchs have tried to fade out through time. If people think about ethical, humane, indispensable, responsible, gender focused journalism in Argentina, the sole representative is Liliana López Foresi.
If Liliana López Foresi is so important for the journalistic feminine base and political opinion in Argentina, why is she still being censored for the past 30 years? On May 2nd this will be the 30th year she has been banned from public media. She was the first woman to have a political show on TV that was produced by herself on channel 13. The show was called Magazine 13, Opinion in Journalism in 1991. She hosted the OTI Song Festival. She was the first to host the Cosquín Festival in 1998, even though she had to so with bodyguards thanks to various threats against her son. She won many Martin Fierro Awards and was named Woman of The Year. She was awarded this by the people’s vote. She won a Top 5 Women Hosts of the Decade award by Konex Foundation in 1991. She was a blunt, working class heroine that led and opened the path for other political journalists all on her own. She alone faced the Clarín Group and Menemism. Liliana López Foresi was censored for being audacious in democratic times.
After she was censored on TV she worked on radio and self funded cable channels. She had to refinance her house on various occasions. Midway through 1994 someone tried to bribe her into producing her own TV show where she was offered millions of dollars for the production costs and salaries. The agenda was to favour the Neoliberals that had Argentina on it’s knees. Liliana stoicly and honourably turned them down. She wasn’t doing great economically and she could have said yes but didn’t even think twice and turned them down. She fought and dealt with an upstream battle without selling her ideals or dignity.
Liliana is physically too beautiful. A woman’s beauty is only forgiven if used to climb up the ladder, snatch for her own benefit and maybe the benefit a few others. When a woman questions, analyses, faces and denounces a few of those people in public TV, even though she has incredible beauty, is non arrogant or doesn’t act superior and doesn’t benefit from it, the hate provoked from this is very significant. She becomes an Untameable Woman. The one that power cannot bed even if it has millions of dollars to buy her. This is also a cause for many women to be jealous of her. This might be from a power or work perspective in which they would love to remove her out of their way. Some were jealous of her beauty and other of her intellect. The order was to annul her from journalism forever, not just for Menem’s governmental rule.
Before the censorship happened, the persecution of Liliana López Foresi was already brewing. She was fired from Radio Miltre in 1989, in which she had a political analysis program. For the Menemist government and the Clarín Group, she was more than a stone in their shoe. She was the voice of the people expressing themselves.
Not only was she fired and all doors closed on her, she couldn’t practice journalism, and her life was also threatened. In 1997, there was a phone call at work letting her know that her son would be killed. She lived through attempts on her life. Her car tires were tampered with on two occasions. Her house was broken into four times when she wasn’t home. Her furniture was rearranged and little notes were left around the house quoting phone conversations she had had with her mother. This was while she was at the coast of Argentina. It was summer and she had gone to work elsewhere, bodyguards and all. There were many forms of intimidation and psychological torture that she lived through. There was evidence that one of the police that were meant to guard her was an informant to the same people trying to corner her. This was only found out because the other policewoman told her about it. The price she paid to oust the informant was a shot in the head from a moving vehicle.
Liliana Lòpez Foresi was followed and watched day and night in the Menem and De la Rua government. Yes, in democratic times! I mention in this article only a few forms of psychological torture and assassination attempts that Liliana lived through during those years after her getting fired. I can fill page upon page on what they did to her because they were looking to exasperate her into suicide or fleeing the country. She didn’t do any of the aforementioned. She just resisted despite the affront.
In democratic times, we perfectly understand the things that neoliberalism can accomplish. On paper only. Lillian López Foresi could have been a disappeared person in these times of democracy and nothing would have been done about it. The same way nothing has happened these 30 years of continued censorship. The way criminals work, control, manipulate the system and people, and form alliances with oligarchies and mafias is very well understood. We know their techniques and methods. But what about the humanitarians, the progressives, those that speak of dignity, the ethical journalists that side with the truth and the people? Those that denounce injustices? I am referring to all these people when I speak about the last 30 years. Where the hell were they? What did they do about it?
Lilian has resisted with dignity and character. She has her own website and calls herself a free journalist because she IS free! She has had 30 years of personal development stolen from her. She has had no growth in her profession. She has been isolated, pushed to the side, buried alive. She hasn’t had any economic growth thanks to not earning a salary practicing her trade. As a professional woman, she been denied her right to prosperity and accomplishments. They have tried to kill her soul, strip her of sensitivity, make her an emotionless being. Better yet, they tried to make her auto destruct with frustration and rage. This is a total injustice.
The good people have done this, the consequential ones, the humanitarians, those that dream and talk about a dignified people, the resistors, those that speak of historical memory; with their silence, they turned their backs on her for 30 years. Those great humanitarian journalists recognised throughout all the Great Land, they praised Cuba and Chávez, adored Dilma and Lula, those who proudly yelled “Long live Che!” Those that see the Mother and Grandmothers on Plaza de Mayo as an worldwide example of resistance and humanity. Those who call Fidel a brother, denounce the coup in Bolivia and the dictatorship of Lenin Moreno, see Cristina and Evita as great women in Argentinean politics. Those who give thanks to Perón and Néstor.
Those people that say that it is justice and not hate when those responsible for crimes against humanity in times of dictatorship are put away in jail. These are also the people that defend freedom of expression. The feminists, great feminists that are a beacon of Latin America, they are the standard humanists of the land. Perhaps we are just street lights or a dark houses? How is it possible that in 30 years the government has not apologised publicly to Liliana or given her job back? Liliana was not fired because she was mediocre or unexperienced at her job. She was fired because she is courageous. She dared to talk on national television about what others were hiding. She was fired for holding her head up high and sticking it out alone until the end.
She was ousted for not agreeing in a greedy submissive way and for not going to bed with the puppeteers. She was fired because other women in power couldn’t handle her beauty and intelligence. Those mediocre women that were jealous stayed quietly in their place while Liliana got fired and censored. They saw this as a huge opportunity for themselves. Every day they had to live with their petty selves as traitors to their gender, freedom of expression and to their professions. As they stabbed Liliana in the back, they stabbed their own back and that of the next generation. This is why now, 30 years later, there still isn’t any kind of movement of public apology from journalism, human rights, artists, intellectuals, writers, poets, or politicians. There is no one to demand reparations for Liliana López Foresi. Liliana is too great for these people. They can’t handle her, she is too intelligent, humane, ethical, dignified, but most of all she resists inexhaustibly. It is worth pointing out that those that were in charge of firing her back then are now in important positions in media and communications.
Those 30 years have only shown evidence to prove that those neoliberal oligarchs have double standards. Time has shown the mediocrity of those that witnessed injustice and have found themselves a comfy spot and personal benefit. From atop their high horse, living in their own bubble, they tear the skin and soul of anyone in their way. Liliana Lòpez Foresi deserves public reparation in the name of the government and a career position that is up to her level. These 30 years of censorship should earn her a to be in charge of one of the national media channels, be it TV, written or radio. If this is not done, the progressive governments are in a huge debt to freedom of expression, human rights, and the resistance. Loyalty and dignity were gambled away as this woman denounced things that in these 30 years others have turned a blind eye to.
For her resistance, ethical professionalism, vision of gender, humanity and dignity, Liliana López Foresi is one of the Insurgent Women of Latin America. In life she is already a myth.
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Ilka Oliva Corado @ilkaolivacorado