A Morte


Viva e de boa saúde mas com sepultura pronta
Amadeu Araújo, Viseu
Diário de Notícias, 16 de Maio de 2007

Palmira Correia, uma mulher de 76 anos, residente em Penalva de Alva, no concelho de Oliveira do Hospital, construiu e adornou no cemitério local a sua própria campa, como se ela própria estivesse lá sepultada. Como está viva e de boa saúde, a solução foi aproveitar o "investimento" para enterrar a irmã.
A mulher, natural de Souto de S. Gião, "toda a vida foi uma solteirona até que casou com Joaquim Correia um senhor viúvo com três filhos que a levou para Penalva", refere Maria Helena, que reside na Carvalha e conhece bem Palmira. Nessa altura, relata, "Palmira, já tinha amealhado uns trocos e dispunha de muitas terras que herdou dos pais." Quando o marido morreu, em 1988, Palmira ficou de novo sozinha, apenas com uma das duas irmãs. É nesta altura que compra dois pedaços de terreno no cemitério: um onde sepultou o marido e outro para si própria.
Com a vida de novo desfeita, Palmira apega-se à terra e regressa à Carvalha para uma quinta que já tinha antes do casamento. É aqui que vive actualmente, quase como uma eremita. "Da quinta ela só sai aos sábados, para comprar o pão e a fruta", relata Maria Helena.
Mas "foi quando a solidão a acometeu que colocou uma campa no seu terreno, com fotografia e inscrição: 'À memória de Dª Palmira Celeste Barbas Correia. Paz à sua alma', tudo porque julgava que, na hora da sua morte, ninguém se lembrasse dela e nem uma campa lhe colocassem", conta Alice Pereira, uma "amiga antiga", como diz a própria.
Com a campa instalada, mas sem data de nascimento e de falecimento, o povo começou a falar. O tempo encarregou-se de esbater o mármore branco da campa de Palmira onde nem as flores faltavam. Conta o povo que já antes da morte da irmã, a proprietária da campa colocava flores na sua própria sepultura.
Se não faltavam as flores, faltava a defunta. Até 2003, altura em que morre a última irmã viva de Palmira, que acaba por ocupar a sua última morada. Provisoriamente. A lápide com o nome de Palmira continua no local e é aqui que a mulher conta ser sepultada.



Saddam Hussein, 69

Saddam Hussein foi morto por enforcamento às primeiras horas do dia 30 de Dezembro de 2006. Tinha nascido a 28 de Abril de 1937. Foi ditador do Iraque desde 1979 até 2003, quando foi deposto pela invasão norteamericana. Foi capturado em Dezembro de 2003 e executado três anos mais tarde, no feriado religioso mais importante para o mundo muçulmano. Este é o essencial do texto do Economist:

(...) Saddam Hussein was one of the last of the 20th century's great dictators, but not the least in terms of egotism, or cruelty, or morbid will to power. He rose fast, like Stalin and Mao, from within an ostensibly secular, progressive political party. In Iraq's case this was the Baath, or Renaissance, Party, a vehicle which he ultimately transformed, through terrifyingly capricious ruthlessness, into a fascistic tool for his own absolute control. Like Enver Hoxha of Albania or North Korea's Kim Il Sung and son, Saddam succeeded in turning the entire apparatus of the state into an expression of his own paranoia. His rule cost the lives of perhaps half a million Iraqis. Two-thirds fell in unnecessary wars; the rest were civilian “enemies”, rounded up and shot, usually by firing squad.
Yet, like those other thuggish rulers, Saddam won not just fawningly insincere adulation but a surprising degree of support from his people. Much took the form of a Stockholm Syndrome-like response to captivity, whereby hostages end up sympathising with their captors. Yet Saddam attracted real constituents, and not only from the favoured among his own clan, tribe and fellow Sunni Muslims. If police repression was politically deadening, it did also mean security from such historical Iraqi plagues as coups, tribal vendettas and religious strife. Baathist secularism promoted such modernising trends as inter-faith marriage and scientific education. The state ideology was rigid but it did, in a way, succeed in strengthening Iraq's fragile sense of nationhood. For many Iraqis, Saddam inspired pride.

A hero to many Arabs — and the West
Saddam was luckier than rival dictators in one major respect. His rule coincided with a huge surge in oil revenues. During the 1970s, a relatively peaceful interlude when he exercised real control as second-in-command to a weak president, dozens of ambitious projects swiftly created a first-class infrastructure of expressways, power lines and social services. In neighbouring countries, the oil boom generated garish consumption and commission billionaires. Iraqis could fairly claim that their national wealth had been used instead to create a broad, home-owning middle class, the symbol of which was the “Brazili”, a stripped-down Volkswagen bought by the million from Brazil. Generous state subsidies lifted even the very poor out of need. Corruption was unknown.
Much as Adolf Hitler won early praise for galvanising German industry, ending mass unemployment and building autobahns, Saddam earned admiration abroad for his deeds. He had a good instinct for what the “Arab street” demanded, following the decline in Egyptian leadership brought about by the trauma of Israel's six-day victory in the 1967 war, the death of the pan-Arabist hero, Gamal Abdul Nasser, in 1970, and the “traitorous” drive by his successor, Anwar Sadat, to sue for peace with the Jewish state. Saddam's self-aggrandising propaganda, with himself posing as the defender of Arabism against Jewish or Persian intruders, was heavy-handed but consistent as a drumbeat. It helped, of course, that his mukhabarat (secret police) put dozens of Arab news editors, writers and artists on the payroll. As a result, to many poorer Arabs, his lunge for Kuwait, and the subsequent, strategically inconsequential lobbing of 39 Iraqi Scud missiles at Israel, appeared as Robin Hood-like acts of retributive justice.

Refuge in Islam
Following the debacle of Operation Desert Storm, America's crushingly efficient counter-thrust, Saddam hastened to burnish his tarnished lustre by switching to a new posture as a champion of Islam. The cry of Allahu Akbar, Mighty is God, was added to the Iraqi flag in a script modelled on the president's own. With his country now besieged under UN sanctions that systematically impoverished its middle class, Saddam posed as the victim of a relentless American-led campaign to weaken and hold back the world's Muslims. While few took his religious pretensions seriously, this message meshed with a growing sense among Muslims, fanned assiduously by a resurgent fundamentalist movement, of thwarted ambitions and generalised victimhood.
Saddam's showy return to the faith was perhaps not entirely cynical. It was in some ways an expression of his feeling of having been used, then betrayed, by the West. Back in the late 1950s, when Saddam consecrated his party membership by wielding a pistol in a botched assassination attempt against Iraq's then president, Abdul Karim Qasim, the Baath was favoured by Western powers as a foil to both the powerful Iraqi Communist Party and to the pro-Russian Nasserists. The West welcomed the 1968 coup that brought Saddam into power. When he invaded revolutionary Iran in 1980, America and its allies helped quietly but generously with credits, arms and satellite intelligence. Later, they turned a blind eye to his use of chemical weapons, first against Iranian soldiers and then against his own unruly Kurds. Donald Rumsfeld paid the Iraqi leader a courtesy visit in 1983. For a time, the CIA helpfully contended that it was Iran, not Iraq, that had dumped poison gas on the Kurdish city of Halabja.
Many Arabs still contend that America goaded Saddam to invade Kuwait, by pushing the emirate to provoke him by demanding repayment of wartime loans and then telling the dictator that America would not intervene in inter-Arab disputes. More likely, Saddam simply overplayed his hand. As April Glaspie, America's ambassador to Baghdad at the time, said, “Obviously, I didn't think, and nobody else did, that the Iraqis were going to take all of Kuwait.”
Saddam's brashness, and the criminal abandon with which his officers looted Kuwait, stripping even the marble from its palaces to add to Saddam's own, revealed for all to see his nature as an unworldly and power-mad brute. His isolation from reality, the now rapidly increasing venality of his family and regime and his lack of judgement in dealing with the world led to his final undoing.

A martyr to some
Chastened by defeat, Saddam actually did move in 1991, as demanded by the UN, to dismantle his programmes to build weapons of mass destruction. Yet having built his power on fear, he was loth to admit that he had been de-clawed, and so allowed the interminable and ruinous saga of sanctions to continue. To a dwindling constituency of Arabs, his posturing continued to inspire a certain awe, mixed with sympathy for the apparent underdog. But to the rest of the world he had become the perfect villain. As news leaked from Baghdad of the murderous excesses of his sons and of the vicious retribution meted out to Shias in the south, who had the temerity to revolt, it became easy to label him as a kind of devil incarnate.
Following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington of September 11th 2001, Saddam's mix of obduracy, ambivalence and belligerent rhetoric attracted the interest of an American administration that was keen to persuade its public that the superpower was doing its utmost to prevent future attacks. To powerful neo-conservatives, a strike against Iraq was appealing for several reasons. It would send a blunt message to malingering governments everywhere. It would place American troops in a position to threaten other alleged sponsors of terrorism, such as Iran and Syria. And, it was presumed, the overthrow of a dictator such as Saddam would be greeted with cheers, and stimulate a domino effect of democratic change in a region whose repressive rulers had primed their youth for Islamist extremism.
As the world now knows, such dreams built Saddam into a far greater catch than he proved in fact to be. The famous weapons of mass destruction did not exist. His capture, eight months after the fall of Baghdad, was little more than a brief flash of triumph in a remorselessly darkening sea of gloom. Rather than melting away at the sight of its presumed leader's humiliation, Iraq's burgeoning Sunni insurgency gained strength, since it could now claim to act out of pure nationalist motives, dissociated from the criminal past of the tyrant. America's adventure, immensely costly in terms of blood and treasure, turned into a debacle.

Towards the gallows
The Iraqi state that Saddam had created was dismantled, but with such crudeness that the wider polity he had built also began to fall apart. As it did so, cracking with ever greater force into Sunni, Shia and Kurdish components, a slogan appeared on Baghdad's walls: “Better the tyranny of Saddam than the chaos of the Amerkan.” In captivity and then during a messy, ill-conducted trial, the reviled dictator began to regain stature among his core Sunni constituents. The sordidness of his hanging, and its ugly timing on the day of the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice—contrasting with his composure before death—reinforced the Sunni sense of injury at the hands of what many see as a puppet sectarian regime. In Saddam's final communication to the world, a letter released following his conviction for crimes against humanity, he adopted the role of a martyr to the nation, calling nobly for Iraqis to unite and to forgive invaders for their leaders' folly.
It is difficult to judge what Saddam's legacy will be. Many Iraqis, especially among the Kurds and Shias, rejoiced at his death. Others simply shrugged at the inevitable passing of a delusional has-been. But quite a few regret his departure, less out of admiration for the man than out of sadness for the deeply flawed but at least secure and predictable Iraq they have lost. And in Iraq and beyond the rage against the world felt by many other Arabs and Muslims, which the dictator once harnessed, has yet to be assuaged.


Augusto Pinochet, 91

Agora sim: Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, militar chileno, morreu a 10 de Dezembro de 2006 de complicações subsequentes a um enfarte do miocárdio, em Santiago do Chile. Tinha nascido a 25 de Novembro de 1915 em Valparaíso e tornou-se uma figura decisiva do século XX chileno - e uma personalidade mundial - em virtude do golpe militar que depôs o governo de Salvador Allende a 11 de Setembro de 1973. Governou o Chile até 1990, com grande violência. Para o Economist foi só questão de actualizar o texto. Este é o obituário do Guardian:

Malcolm Coad
Monday December 11, 2006
The Guardian

Captain-general Augusto Pinochet, who has died aged 91, was the most notorious of Latin America's 20th-century military rulers. Dictator of Chile between 1973 and 1990, after which he remained as army commander-in-chief, then senator-for-life, he bestrode the final decades of the Cold War in the region like no one else but Fidel Castro in Cuba. Then, in 1998, a Spanish judge ended his career as he could never have expected: under arrest in London and converted into a symbol of hope that heads of state who violate human rights may no longer escape a reckoning under international law.
Pinochet sprang to the attention of the world, and of his own people, when he headed the coup that overthrew the leftwing government of Dr Salvador Allende in September 1973. Allende's election three years before at the head of a socialist-communist coalition had a significance far beyond Chile itself, being widely seen as the harbinger of similar projects in countries such as France and Italy, as well as the beginning of a "second Cuba" in Latin America itself. The coup, in which CIA destabilisation played a part, was as much of an iconic event of the time as the war in Vietnam or the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Pinochet, with his dark glasses and harshly downturned mouth, became the paradigm of the third world anti-communist strongman.
By the late 1980s, while reviled worldwide for the brutality of his regime, Pinochet was also lauded by many for turning his country's economy into a dynamic free-market model for the developing world. When post-communist Russian television began an interview with him in 1994 by apologising for Soviet media coverage of his regime, there could have been no clearer example of the turning of the world-historical tide - unless it was the flood of his former ministers and technocrats invited to ex-Soviet-bloc countries to explain the marvels of untrammelled capitalism in Chile.
All this was no mean feat for the apparently unremarkable son of a customs official, born in the Pacific port of Valparaiso. By his own admission, the young Augusto Pinochet Ugarte was "a weak lad", educated by conservative Marist priests before being twice rejected by the country's Military College. He was finally accepted at the age of 15, backed in his choice of career by his mother, Avelina Ugarte, a formidable woman of Basque extraction. Augusto Senior, the descendent of Breton cheese-makers who settled in Chile in the early 18th century to escape the Wars of the Spanish Succession, wanted his son to be a doctor.
Augusto Jr graduated in 1937 as an infantry officer. His subsequent career was steady but routine, distinguished mostly for his expertise in "geopolitics", the subject he taught at the country's War Academy. This quasi-science, which regards nation-states as living entities and was one of the sources of Nazism, was the subject of a book he published in 1968, and which was attacked by specialists outside Chile for comprehensive plagiarism.
According to his memoirs, Pinochet was first alerted to the "truly diabolical attractions of Marxism" in 1948, while commanding a prison camp for banned communists. It was here too that he first met Dr Allende, who in 1973 would commit suicide in the bombed ruins of La Moneda government palace rather than surrender the presidency. At the time, Allende was a young doctor and Socialist senator who came to visit the prisoners. The then Lieutenant Pinochet threatened to shoot him if he tried it - though Allende always associated a different officer with the incident. Members of Allende's presidential staff would remember the pre-coup Pinochet as a bluff and somewhat sycophantic officer - "the guy we would call if we needed a jeep," said one. Three weeks before the coup, when the constitutionalist General Carlos Prats resigned as commander-in-chief amid growing political crisis, Allende appointed Pinochet to replace him in the belief that he was the only remaining loyal member of the army high command. "I wonder what they have done with poor Pinochet," the doomed president remarked to aides as the first news of the coup broke.
Pinochet himself would later claim that, for security reasons, he had been planning the coup alone for two years with student officers at the military academy. Other generals, who certainly were involved in the plotting, said that he was considered untrustworthy and played no role. What is not in doubt is that three days before the coup, he was given an ultimatum by the commanders-in-chief of the navy and air force to join them or suffer the consequences.
On the day itself, there was little doubt Pinochet was in charge. "He realized what had dropped into his lap and had no alternative but to follow it through," said one of his closest civilian aides later. Amateur recordings of radio transmissions between the golpista command posts that day reveal the Pinochet the world would come to know. While negotiating Allende's surrender, he joked crudely about flying the president out of the country and crashing the plane on the way. "Kill the bitch and you finish the spawn," he said.
Within a year, as the army asserted its overwhelming strength among the armed services, plans for a rotating presidency between the four members of the ruling junta of service chiefs were dropped and Pinochet was named President of the Republic. A tight group of civilian and military advisers designed a regime focused on him as the incarnation of the military's "historic mission to remake the country". Potential rivals were either retired or died in mysterious circumstances. In 1974, General Prats became one of the victims, killed with his wife in exile in Buenos Aires by a bomb attached to their car - an attack later shown to have been carried out by Pinochet's agents.
The rank of Captain-general, hitherto held only by the Liberator of the country from the Spanish in the early 1800s, Bernardo O'Higgins, was revived for Pinochet. His uniform hat was tailored higher than that of other officers. Officially he became the visionary who, guided by "the mysterious hand of God", had made Chile "the only country in history to have broken free from the yoke of communism". He was reported to enjoy the special protection of the Virgin Mary, patron of both the army and the country. Such was the origin of the saint-like statuettes of Pinochet and the posters of "The Immortal" so widely seen at demonstrations supporting him after his arrest in London.
This personality cult was only one of the ways in which the regime so notably avoided the factionalism that plagued the region's many other military dictatorships. Chile's army was already the most hierarchically disciplined in the region, the legacy of late 18th-century Prussian advisers, and this was skilfully translated into personal devotion to Pinochet. Limitations were placed on the services' own role in day-to-day government, with the brunt of this being left in Pinochet's own hands and those of his circle of advisers. A ruthless secret police watched the regime as much as the opposition.
In the regime a strict ideology reigned, based in personal loyalty to Pinochet, anti-communist dogma of "national security", and the extreme neoliberal economic doctrine imported by a generation of technocrats known as the "Chicago Boys", after the university where some had received their training. Pinochet's own wiliness - his most evident political talent apart from ruthlessness - also came into its own, as he proved adept at nipping factions in the bud and playing them off against each other. In the mid-1980s he would use the same skill with success against the re-emerging opposition.
Especially shocking was the level of repression in a country with a longstanding parliamentary tradition and a hitherto mild record of military involvement in politics by regional standards. Official investigations since 1990 have confirmed over 3000 deaths and disappearances at the hands of Pinochet's security forces. Torture was institutionalised, secret detention centres operated into which detainees disappeared never to be seen again, and murder squads were despatched to kill prominent dissidents abroad.
Meanwhile, in laboratory conditions, with political parties and trade unions banned, the "Chicago Boys" set about radically remaking the heavily state-dependent economy. This was achieved through wholesale privatisation, a complete opening to the international economy, fixing the exchange rate artificially low, and pumping in foreign loans during the petro-dollar glut of the late 1970s. The result was the destruction of national industry and much of agriculture, then near-collapse in the early 1980s amid a frenzy of speculation, consumer imports and debt crisis. The state bailed out most of the country's banking sector and unemployment rose to an official level of over 30 per cent.
Following the debacle, a more moderate group of neoliberals succeded in stabilising the now streamlined macroeconomy. A young and vigorous new breed of capitalists emerged, centred on new exports such as fish, timber and fruit. Reforms such as the privatisation of the pension system became highly influential around the world, growth became steady and Chile became a byword for economic success - though the gap between rich and poor widened to give the country the worst income distribution in the region after Brazil.
In 1980, the shortlived boom that preceded the crash was exploited to help deliver victory in a plebiscite approving a new constitution. This enshrined Pinochet's dream of a "protected democracy', purged for ever of Marxism and other threats to "national security". It set the opening of a limited Congress for 1990, subject to military veto powers and with most of the left permanently banned. A further plebiscite was to follow in 1988 to ratify Pinochet in power for ten more years.
Such hopes were dashed by the economic collapse. In 1983, the first mass protests erupted, lead by trade unionists rather than the bickering leaders of the political opposition. A mixture of repression and partial reforms headed off the protest movement, but by then the opposition was a visible and growing presence, including a small armed left which, in the shape of the communist-led Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, narrowly missed assassinating the General in September 1986.
Two years later, against all the regime's calculations, Pinochet was defeated by 56 to 43 per cent in the plebiscite to ratify him in power. In December 1989, the Christian Democrat opposition leader, Patricio Aylwin, won the country's first general elections in 19 years. In March 1990, in a ceremony in the new Congress building built by Pinochet in his home town of Valparaiso - 80 miles from the capital, Santiago, and intended to remain well out of mind of the real centres of power - a sombre Pinochet handed the presidential sash over to Aylwin.
Danger signals sounded twice in the ensuing months, as troops were put on alert in protest against court citations of officers on human rights charges and a Congressional investigation of the army's purchase of a bankrupt arms company from one of Pinochet's sons. But the sabre-rattling died away, and Pinochet earned grudging tributes from the government for allowing the transition to go ahead relatively smoothly. He seemed to thrive on his refurbished role, blustering about repercussions if any of his men were touched by the courts, but in practice seldom going beyond the plain-man avuncularity and bluffness that so captivated his supporters.
It was in these years that Pinochet discovered a vein of Anglophilia. In 1994 he visited Britain to inspect a missile project being developed jointly between the Chilean army and the Royal Ordnance (RO) arms company. On this and subsequent visits over the following two years, he was warmly welcomed by Foreign Office officials and on occasions was given a Special Branch escort.
He came to feel at ease in Britain, enjoying visits to Harrods, White's Club and Madam Tussaud's, and cultivating a mutually admiring relationship with Baroness Thatcher at various meetings for tea. During the 1982 Falklands War, Pinochet - who had himself almost gone to war with neighbouring Argentina four years before - aided Britain with intelligence and facilities for military planes flying south, so for the Baroness support was a matter of principle.
By this time, a small group of officers had been imprisoned in Chile for human rights abuses, notably Pinochet's first secret police chief, General Manuel Contreras, who was jailed for the murder of Allende's former foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, in Washington in 1976 (like Prats, Letelier was blown up by a bomb in his car). In January 1998, proceedings were even opened against Pinochet himself on charges of genocide brought by the Communist Party. He felt safe, however, protected by his past status, parliamentary immunity and the amnesty decree passed by the junta in 1978 to protect themselves against such charges. Even less did he consider the possibility of trouble abroad.
In October 1998, nine months after he stepped down as commander-in-chief to take the lifelong senate seat guaranteed to him in his constitution, healmost over-reached himself. Ignoring both the change of government in Britain and the fact that warrants were out for his arrest in Spain over the disappearance of Spanish citizens after the coup, he came to Britain once again, in part for arms purchases and in part for back surgery at the London Clinic.
British human rights organisations had got wind of his visits before, but were never able to bring legal action before his departure. Now they acted quickly, together with the Spanish judge in charge of the cases in that country, Baltazar Garzón. On October 16, Pinochet was arrested in his room at the London Clinic, off Harley Street, pending extradition proceedings at Judge Garzon's behest.
What happened next passed into the annals of international jurisprudence as the first time a former head of state had faced arrest under international human rights law, principally the Convention Against Torture that came into force in 1987. In a complex series of decisions, the House of Lords ratified that extradition could go ahead, while reducing the grounds to the few cases occurring after the Convention was ratified by the UK in 1988.
In the event, Pinochet was ordered to be sent back to Chile in January 2000 by Home Secretary Jack Straw on compassionate grounds, after confirmation that he was suffering the effects of a series of minor strokes. But, beyond Pinochet's own 16-month detention in two private clinics and an eight-bedroomed house in Virginia Water, Surrey, the internationally vital precedent had been established. Judges in France, Belgium and Switzerland also began extradition requests.
More significantly for Pinochet himself, events in London had stimulated the opening of scores more cases against him at home. His actual return to Santiago in March was one of forced triumphalism by his supporters. Greeted at the city's airport by a military band playing his favourite "Lili Marlene", he hobbled across the tarmac from his wheelchair and waved his walking stick in the air - a gesture interpreted by friends and foes alike as proof that he had fooled the English doctors. But, against the expectations of many, the courts stripped him of his parliamentary immunity and proceedings against him went ahead, in the capable hands of Chile's own answer to Judge Garzón, Judge Juan Guzmán.
Eventually, in July 2001 the Chilean courts adopted the Straw approach, suspending investigation on grounds of "dementia" caused by continuing minor strokes. But by this time, Pinochet's standing was in tatters, as political expediency on the political right and revelations of the brutalities of his regime reduced his admirers to a small hard core. Before long, reforms of parliament abolished his senate seat and a series of court rulings declared him fit to stand trial. In 2006 his last remaining immunity to prosecution, as a former president, was removed to allow him to be charged in a notorious case of the murder of opponents abroad.
By this time, imprisoned military officers, including Contreras, were openly expressing disgust at Pinochet's refusal to accept any responsibility for abuses while his subordinates were being jailed and disgraced. By his death some 300 cases had been filed against him and proceedings were going ahead in three especially infamous cases. For one of these - multiple murders, torture and disappearance in a notorious secret detention centre in Santiago known as Villa Grimaldi - he was placed under house arrest. The most recent trial, begun in October 2006, is for the disappearance of officials of Allende's government from La Moneda palace on the day of the coup.
For many former supporters, however, the final straw was nor murder or torture, but the revelation in 2005 by a US Senate investigation of terrorist financing that in the previous two decades Pinochet had opened and closed at least 128 bank accounts at nine US banks, an apparent money-laundering web through which almost US$ 20 million had been shuffled back and forth. Later investigation revealed other acounts around the world, and by early 2006 the alleged amount of deposits had risen to some US$28m, a fortune apparently still tended by Pinochet himself despite the supposed mental incapacity that had got him off the hook in London.
In Chile, investigations for tax evasion and passport falsification were added to those for murder and torture, and speculation abounded about state funds siphoned off and kickbacks for arms deals. For decades it had been common to hear members of the Chilean elite claim that "Pinochet may have been vicious but at least he was honest," and many had donated money for his defense and living expenses in London. Now, as comparisons with Al Capone, another notorious man of violence finally jailed for tax crimes, became commonplace, they finally turned their backs.
He married María Lucía Hiriart Rodríguez om 1943, and they had two sons - Augusto and Marco Antonio - and three daughters - Lucía, Jacqueline and Veronica. His strong-willed wife, the daughter of a former member of Congress, was always believed to be more of a political animal than her husband. An opinionated First Lady, she was an important influence on him throughout his career and, like him, was loathed or adulated.


Augusto Pinochet (1915-?)

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, militar chileno, nasceu a 25 de Novembro de 1915 em Valparaíso e ainda não morreu esta semana em Santiago do Chile. Este é um texto do Economist, que pode ser lido integralmente aqui.

Too long a life
Economist.com Dec 8th 2006

Most Chileans want Augusto Pinochet out of the way

WHEN Augusto Pinochet had what looked like a fatal heart attack earlier this week, many Chileans, even those who had supported his long dictatorship, thought it might be for the best. “It’s high time that God calls him,” suggested one pious, elderly lady. So when, a few days later, the former dictator made a remarkable recovery and was back on his feet, few in Santiago, the capital, seemed eager to cheer.
(...) After more than a decade of basking in praise for running South America’s most successful economy, Chileans resent having a dark chapter of their past raked over yet again. It proves embarrassing for those who supported or tolerated his regime and painful for those who suffered at its hands. For both sides, the sooner they can start to bury that part of their country’s past, the better.


Mário Cesariny, 83

Mário Cesariny de Vasconcelos, poeta e pintor, morreu a 26 de Novembro de 2006, em Lisboa, de cancro. Tinha nascido na mesma cidade a 9 de Agosto de 1923. Os dois textos que se seguem foram publicados no Público.

Poeta genial
Luís Miguel Queirós
Público, 27 de Novembro de 2006

Foi o expoente máximo do surrealismo português. Esta declaração irá fatalmente abrir quaisquer verbetes que a futura historiografia literária venha a dedicar a Mário Cesariny. No entanto, na sua factualidade, esta associação ao surrealismo acaba por impedir que se diga desde logo o óbvio: que estamos perante um dos nomes cimeiros da poesia portuguesa de todos os tempos. E que não deixaria de o ser mesmo se rasurassem da sua obra todos os poemas (e eles existem) indiscutivelmente surrealistas. Em sentido estrito, já que no peculiar sentido lato em que o entendeu o próprio Cesariny - para quem o surrealismo, mais do que ter tido precursores, sempre existiu -, pode-se lá pôr, ou tirar, mais ou menos tudo o que se queira.
Se Cesariny foi um grande poeta, foi-o principalmente pelas razões pelas quais os grandes poetas costumam sê-lo: a capacidade de inovar, um domínio absoluto da língua, um conhecimento profundo da tradição literária, uma voz singular e uma imaginação prodigiosa, para referir apenas algumas das suas virtudes mais evidentes. No seu caso, é ainda legítimo acrescentar que foi um génio, desde que entendamos que a palavra não se destina a superlativizar a qualidade do que escreveu, mas apenas a apontar para determinadas características da sua criação. Quando lemos alguns dos mais notáveis poemas de Cesariny, damos por nós a perguntar: "Mas de onde é que raio veio isto?" E suspeitamos de que nem o autor faria a menor ideia. É talvez por aqui que passa aquilo a que chamamos génio, ou inspiração. Acresce que, ao contrário de outros poetas, que nunca esconderam que a sua obra devia pelo menos tanto à transpiração como à inspiração - não foi por acaso que Carlos de Oliveira compilou os seus poemas reescritos sob o título Trabalho Poético -, Cesariny sempre entendeu a poesia como uma espécie de possessão mediúnica, e daí a sua simpatia por poetas nos quais pressentia essa afinidade, como Gomes Leal, Pascoaes ou Sá-Carneiro, a quem, já em 1952, dedicou um poema cujos versos finais poderiam bem servir de epitáfio a si próprio: "desembarcou como tinha embarcado//Sem Jeito Para o Negócio."
É também essa convicção de que não vale a pena escrever poesia por determinação ou disciplina que justifica o facto de Cesariny ter passado longos anos quase em silêncio, após ter publicado o essencial da sua obra nos vinte anos que vão de Discurso Sobre a Reabilitação do Real Quotidiano (1952) a 19 Projectos de Prémio Aldonso Ortigão seguidos de Poemas de Londres (1971).
Todavia, também a imagem de Cesariny como protótipo do poeta inspirado, demiúrgico, acaba por ser redutora, quer porque deixa na sombra uma mestria técnica que, além de talento, implicou seguramente muito trabalho, quer pelo visível diálogo que muitos dos seus poemas travam com a obra de outros poetas, e em especial com a de Fernando Pessoa, desde o Louvor e Simplificação de Álvaro de Campos, de 1953, ao seu último livro, O Virgem Negra (1989; 2ª edição aumentada, 1996), uma desvairada, e muitas vezes brilhante, paródia à mitificação da obra e persona pessoanas.

O mágico das mãos de ouro
Cesariny publicou o seu primeiro livro, Corpo Visível, em 1950, e muitas das marcas posteriores da sua poesia estão já aqui: a centralidade do corpo, a revolta contra as convenções, a alternância de imagens inesperadas e de descrições realistas, uma vigilância prosódica eficaz a ponto de não se dar por ela. Já o humor, absurdo, sarcástico ou negro, que será uma outra característica fundamental da sua poesia, só aparece dois anos depois, com os inventários de Discurso Sobre a Reabilitação do Real Quotidiano: "(...) a outra viagem por mar/ o jovem que já é livreiro/ a camionete a esmagar/ o túmulo de Sá-Carneiro (...)."
Mas é com Manual de Prestidigitação (1956) que Cesariny passa a ser, não apenas um executante hábil e original do surrealismo, mas um poeta maior ao qual já não faz sentido acrescentar quaisquer rótulos, mesmo que seja ele a colá-los. Pense-se, por exemplo, no "discurso ao príncipe de epaminondas, mancebo de grande futuro", um desses poemas a propósito dos quais é difícil não falar de génio: "Despe-te de verdades/ das grandes primeiro que das pequenas/ das tuas antes que de quaisquer outras/ abre uma cova e enterra-as/ a teu lado (...)". Neste e no livro seguinte, Pena Capital (1957), reúnem-se alguns dos seus melhores poemas: "Vinte quadras para um dadá", "a um rato morto encontrado num parque", "o jovem mágico", "you are welcome to elsinore" ou "a antonin artaud". Foi também neste período, apesar de todas as suas cirúrgicas sabotagens do que ameaçava poder tornar-se grandiloquente, que Cesariny esteve mais perto de estar dentro dessa Literatura da qual sempre afirmou que se devia procurar sair.
Até ao final dos anos 50, edita ainda Alguns Mitos Maiores Alguns Mitos Menores Propostos à Circulação Pelo Autor e Nobilíssima Visão, com a sua cáustica "Litania para os tempos de revolução" - "Burgueses somos nós todos/ desde pequenos/ burgueses somos nós todos/ ou ainda menos (...)".
No mesmo ano em que publica Planisfério e Outros Poemas (1961), sai ainda Poesia (1944-55), o primeiro dos sucessivos momentos em que baralhará toda a sua obra anterior, revendo, rasurando e acrescentando poemas, e mudando-os de uns livros para outros. Um jogo que prossegue em Burlescas, Teóricas e Sentimentais (1972) e nas Obras de Mário Cesariny que a Assírio & Alvim vem publicando desde 1980, e que agora se tornaram, por razões de força maior, a fixação definitiva da sua obra poética.
Em 1965, sai A Cidade Queimada, cujo conjunto "O Navio de Espelhos" é outro ponto alto da sua poesia, e em 1971 publica 19 Projectos de Prémio Aldonso Ortigão seguidos de Poemas de Londres. Pertencem a esta última série poemas como o "estranho soneto de amor outra coisa" ou esse magnífico "shafftsbury avenue", que abre com o verso "Vi um anão inglês e fiquei perturbado".
A reedição da sua poesia na Assírio & Alvim inicia-se com Primavera Autónoma das Estradas (1980), que, a par de um grande número de dispersos, recolhe ainda um conjunto significativo de inéditos. E em 1989 Cesariny regressa com o já referido Virgem Negra, um livro divertidíssimo e ligeiramente hardcore, onde pega em poemas célebres de Pessoa e os cesariniza. Nada de muito diferente do que fez com o surrealismo, com as redondilhas populares, ou com tudo aquilo em que tocaram as mãos de ouro deste jovem mágico.

Viveu à altura da obra e a obra esteve à altura da vida
Alexandra Lucas Coelho
Público, 27 de Novembro de 2006

Mário Cesariny não quis ser cremado. "Tinha lido num tratado de esoterismo que, a haver alguma coisa depois da morte, seria a partir do osso sacro", recorda o amigo José Manuel dos Santos. O osso na base da coluna é o centro da energia espiritual, dormente na maioria das pessoas até à morte, segundo crenças esotéricas. Cesariny não era crente nem ateu. Como todos os não tranquilizados, "olhava para a morte com grande gravidade", sem qualquer certeza. E "em caso de dúvida, o melhor é não arriscar". Que a oportunidade não se perdesse.
Assim viveu.
E até ao fim disse as coisas mais extraordinárias, porque - como distingue outro amigo muito antigo, Vítor Silva Tavares - não era um "poeta por escrito", mas um "poeta integral, irradiante".
De raríssimos (quem mais?) se poderá dizer "viveu à altura da obra, e a obra esteve à altura da vida", como dele diz José Manuel dos Santos. Este ex-assessor cultural de Mário Soares e Jorge Sampaio conheceu Cesariny num café, andava o poeta pelos 50 anos. Primeira e definitiva impressão: "Grande vitalidade, grande graça, uma inteligência fascinante, uma cultura absolutamente original. Nunca o ouvi dizer um lugar comum, no amor ou na política, algo que já se tivesse ouvido."
Era isto na Lisboa da rua, dos cafés, de que Cesariny tanto sentia falta ultimamente, ele que nunca escreveu em casa.
Nascido a 9 de Agosto de 1923 por acaso na Damaia - onde os pais estavam a passar férias numa quinta -, Mário Cesariny é lisboeta de raiz, crescido na Rua da Palma, junto ao Martim Moniz. "O pai era ourives e queria que ele fosse ourives", lembra Manuel Rosa, seu editor, na Assírio & Alvim. "Tinham uma relação péssima. O Mário não era o filho que ele queria."
Da adoração pela mãe e da repulsa pelo pai fala Cesariny no filme-documentário Autografia, de Miguel Gonçalves Mendes.
Único rapaz depois de três raparigas (Henriette, Luísa e Carmen, esta última ainda viva), Cesariny, que era aluno de Fernando Lopes-Graça na Academia dos Amadores de Música, aproveitava o piano em que as irmãs estudavam, como as meninas prendadas da época. Mas a medo, antes que o pai chegasse.
"Um dia o pai apanhou-o e fechou-lhe o piano com toda a força sobre as mãos", conta Manuel Rosa. "E o Lopes-Graça achava que ele tinha um talento extraordinário. O Mário sabia todos os poemas de cor, e só os escrevia depois de os ter na cabeça, e esta memória extraordinária também a tinha para a música."
Em 2000, quando o Salão do Livro de Paris teve Portugal como país-tema, Cesariny, que não fôra integrado na delegação oficial, viajou com Manuel Rosa e Manuel Hermínio Monteiro, da Assírio & Alvim. "A certa altura havia uma recepção na embaixada. Mas perdemo-nos, de carro, à volta do Arco do Triunfo, a chover, de noite. E o Mário, que não queria ir ao Salão, muito contente, ia dizendo poemas do Apollinaire, do Baudelaire e cantava canções anarquistas." As canções que os operários do pai lhe cantavam, em miúdo.

O não-funcionário
Além da música, Cesariny frequenta o Liceu Gil Vicente e a António Arroio (onde são seus colegas Cruzeiro Seixas, Júlio Pomar, Pedro Oom ou Vespeira, companheiros de tertúlia no café Herminius).
Academicamente, é tudo. "O pai, que tinha uma amante, saiu de casa, foi para o Brasil e deixou-os numa miséria atroz", diz Manuel Rosa. "O [poeta] Pedro da Silveira, que então tinha um jornal desportivo, O Volante, é que arranjou maneira dele lá trabalhar."
E assim, durante um ano, Cesariny é jornalista desportivo. Um dos poucos "ganchos" que teve, sublinha Silva Tavares. "Numa altura em que todos tinham empregos ou passaram pela publicidade, recusou ser poeta funcionário. E muito menos mercenário. «Ganhar, sim, mas pouco» é uma frase que ele dizia e que tomei como luz central da minha vida. «É de alguma debilidade económica que vem a minha liberdade.»"
Publica o primeiro poema, "O Corpo Visível", aos 27 anos, mas desde os 19 que escreve, desenha e pinta. Com uma passagem pelos neo-realistas e pelos comunistas, com quem rompeu rapidamente. "Ele tinha grande prevenção contra o comunismo", conta José Manuel dos Santos. "Dizia que se houvesse um comunismo em que nada fosse de ninguém e todos fôssemos de todos, seria comunista. Mas, tal como o comunismo se realizara, não tinha dúvidas de que era uma coisa monstruosa."
A sua verdadeira revolução seria o Surrealismo. Numa viagem a Paris em 1947 conhece André Breton e outros do grupo francês e nesse ano é um dos fundadores do Grupo Surrealista de Lisboa. Sai no ano seguinte para fundar o alternativo Os Surrealistas.
A partir do que o poeta contava e do que testemunhou depois, José Manuel dos Santos reconstitui o quotidiano de Cesariny, entre esses anos 40 e os anos 80, grande fumador que nunca bebeu álcool e se alimentava austeramente.
Já a viver na casa da Palhavã onde morreu, levantava-se pela hora de almoço, comia algo leve, e ia para o atelier na Calçada do Monte, entre a Graça e o Martim Moniz. "Era num pátio com operários de toda a espécie, absolutamente de acordo com o que ele era. Não um lugar recatado, ao lado de outros pintores, mas dentro da vida, no espírito surrealista."
Quando Vieira da Silva fez o cartaz do 25 de Abril com o verso de Sophia A poesia está na rua, lembra José Manuel dos Santos, Cesariny escreveu à pintora a dizer: "Sempre esteve."

As noites do Rei Mar
À hora de jantar voltava a casa para comer algo e saía, ruas, cafés e bares, até altas horas. Eram as tertúlias, a do café Gelo, a do Lisboa, na baixa. E o engate. "Aquilo acabava sempre no Rei Mar, um café-taberna na Rua das Pretas. Tudo lá parava, prostitutas, travestis, todos os marginais e toda a tropa que andava ao engate, fuzileiros, comandos, paraquedistas..." Os predilectos de Cesariny, marinheiros. "O mar, a farda, o sentido de aventura, tudo o encantava. Tinha um fascínio pela marinha, sabia os termos todos e usava-os na obra."
Volta e meia a polícia de costumes detinha-o por vagabundagem, mas preso, preso, só uma vez em Paris, apanhado num cinema com um rapaz e acusado de actos "indecentes". "Atordoado", conta Manuel Rosa, esteve um mês na cadeia sem se lembrar de ligar por exemplo a Vieira da Silva. Só quando a notícia correu, a pintora soube e fez alguns telefonemas. Cesariny foi solto, com a condição de em Lisboa se apresentar regularmente no Governo Civil. Um enxovalho semanal.
Tivera a sua fase grega, "de muito amor e pouco sexo" - terá sido o seu grande amor, com um homem das artes nortenho, que lhe escreveu uma carta em 1950, que acabou na PIDE.
Depois o amor passou a durar uma hora, mas nessa hora era tudo.
Os seus grandes poemas foram escritos no tempo incandescente do amor. A poesia acompanhava o corpo. Uma "necessidade absoluta".
Seguiram-se décadas de quase só pintura. Nunca escreveu para manter o nome.
Vítor Silva Tavares, que lhe editou A Intervenção Surrealista e A Cidade Queimada, sentiu a sua morte como "uma amputação". "É um bocado de mim que vai." E tiveram brigas sérias de que depois se riram, sem que a admiração descesse um pouco que fosse. "Nele não há ruptura entre vida e obra. Onde quer que aparecesse era a aura do poeta. Um príncipe num país de medíocres, um homem magnífico."
Ontem, a este "amigo-amigo, com amizade amorosa, sexo à parte", a primeira coisa que veio à cabeça quando soube foi a frase de um anúncio, adaptada: "«Uma chama viva, onde quer que esteja.» Só o corpo de Cesariny morreu hoje."


Anita O'Day, 87

Anita O'Day, cantora de jazz, morreu a 23 de Novembro de 2006, em Los Angeles, vítima paragem cardíaca; o seu quadro clínico era agravado por uma pneumonia e doença de Alzheimer. Tinha nascido a 18 de Outubro de 1919, em Chicago. Este é o obituário do El País.

Anita O'day, cantante de jazz
Era una superviviente de la era dorada de las 'big bands'
J. M. GARCÍA MARTÍNEZ 25/11/2006

Vivió rápido pero no murió joven. Anita O'Day (Anita Belle Colton, Chicago, 1919), superviviente de la era dorada de las big bands y la única cantante de jazz de piel blanca comparable a las más grandes -Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday o Sarah Vaughan-, falleció el pasado jueves 23 de noviembre en la ciudad de Los Ángeles, a los 87 años, a causa de una neumonía.
De origen pobre, sobrevivió a los años de la Depresión actuando en los populares maratones de baile que fueron la válvula de escape para una inmensa mayoría de norteamericanos llevados a la miseria por el crack de Wall Street. Fue entonces cuando adoptó el nombre artístico que le acompañaría hasta el fin de sus días: "Me pareció que era un nombre muy enrollado porque, en el argot, O'Day significa pasta, que era lo que yo esperaba hacer".
Tras ser rechazada por Benny Goodman (que prefirió a Peggy Lee), en el año 1941, se unió a la orquesta del baterista Gene Krupa, en cuyas filas militaba el trompetista Roy Eldridge. Anita formaría con Eldridge una de las parejas artísticas interraciales más singulares y menos convencionales del espectáculo. No sólo desafiaron el sistema de apartheid imperante en el país sino que obtuvieron un notable éxito entre los swing fans, tanto negros como blancos, con piezas como Let me off uptown o Drummin' man. El carácter ferozmente independiente de la cantante -"Anita fue la típica hippy prematura", en palabras del crítico Leonard Feather- salió a la luz por el tipo de compañías que frecuentaba pero incluso por el atuendo ausente de todo glamour que utilizaba para sus apariciones en público. Una rebeca y una falda abierta absolutamente anodinas constituían su "escandalosa" indumentaria, tanto dentro como fuera del escenario. Con ello, desafiaba a los críticos y aficionados en su costumbre de juzgar a las cantantes de orquesta únicamente por su apariencia. Además, estaba lo que su atuendo dejaba ver. No en vano, por aquel tiempo, la cantante se ganó un título: el de las piernas más bonitas del jazz.
Tras dejar a Krupa, cantó por un breve tiempo en las orquestas de Woody Herman y Stan Kenton (su versión de And her tears flowed like wine fue uno de los mayores éxitos en la carrera del discutido director de orquesta). Por lo demás, la vida de Anita era un torbellino sin fin de drogas, alcohol, matrimonios, abortos, divorcios... en el año 1947 fue arrestada por primera vez por posesión de marihuana. Cinco años más tarde fue nuevamente detenida y pasó una temporada entre rejas. Después de que su adición a la heroína estuviera a punto de costarle la vida, en los años sesenta, se sometió a una cura de rehabilitación gracias a la cual pudo continuar con su carrera, algo por lo que nadie hubiera apostado un céntimo, y de hecho, siguió cantando hasta los 86 años.
Para el recuerdo quedan sus álbumes grabados junto al arreglista Billy May, en los años cincuenta -su momento de plenitud- para el sello Verve (Anita O'Day swings Cole Porter with Billy May, Anita O'Day and Billy May swing Rodgers And Hart); o su aparición estelar en el Festival de Newport del año 1958, recogida en el filme Jazz on a summer's day. Anita O'Day no se consideraba a sí misma como una cantante sino una "estilista de la canción". Para el fotógrafo William Claxton fue "una mujer extremadamente inteligente con energía para mover un tren"; "una cantante con un contagioso sentido del swing y una febril practicante del scat" (Ellos y Ellas. Las grandes voces del jazz). En el año 1981 vio la luz su autobiografía, Hard times, high times, escrita en colaboración con George Eells (autor de, entre otras, la biografía del actor Robert Mitchum): un "documento de una brutal honestidad" en el que repasa su controvertida existencia a cara descubierta y sin esconderse en ningún momento. Actualmente, se halla próximo a estrenarse un filme documental sobre su vida: Anita O'Day: Life of a jazz singer, con guión de Will Friedwald.
Su paso por nuestro país fue fugaz y tardío. En 1987 actuó en el Festival de Jazz de Madrid, la primera y última ocasión que lo hizo en la capital del Estado. También cantó en Valencia, junto a la orquesta del clarinetista Buddy DeFranco; y en Barcelona, en el año 1970, acompañada por el trío del pianista francés George Arvanitas. Según su representante, Robbie Cavolina, la cantante no tenía hijos ni ningún familiar cercano.


Philippe Noiret, 76

Philippe Noiret (à direita) com Salvatore Cascio em Cinema Paraíso (1988)

Philippe Noiret morreu a 23 de Novembro de 2006, em Paris, vítima de cancro. Este actor francês, que ficou célebre pelos papéis em Zazie no metro (1960), Cinema Paraíso (1988) ou O Carteiro de Pablo Neruda (1994), tinha nascido a 1 de Outubro de 1930, em Lille. O texto que se segue é o obituário do Le Monde.

Philippe Noiret, acteur et comédien, est mort
LE MONDE | 24.11.06 | 11h01 • Mis à jour le 24.11.06 | 11h35
Jean-Luc Douin

Né le 1er octobre 1930 à Lille, piètre lycéen, Philippe Noiret débute au théâtre – il entre en 1953 au Théâtre national populaire (TNP) de Jean Vilar. Il fait aussi avec Jean-Pierre Darras un homérique duo de cabaret, en particulier dans un sketch où, sous la perruque de Louis XIV, il malmène son complice déguisé en Jean Racine.
C'est là, au TNP, qu'Agnès Varda (qui est photographe de la troupe) le repère, en particulier dans Lorenzaccio, où il interprète le Duc. Elle le fait débuter au cinéma dans La Pointe courte (1954) : "Je lui trouvais une ampleur rare chez un si jeune homme, et une nuque exquise." Cheveux coupés au bol à la Jules César, il incarne un homme traînant son mal sentimental dans un bourg de pêcheurs près de Sète. "J'avais peur de cette aventure, dit-il. J'ai tâtonné. Finalement, je suis absent du film."
En 1960, le voilà se mouvant au ralenti dans Zazie dans le métro, de Louis Malle d'après Raymond Queneau. Un bide monumental, injuste. Il va alors aligner les seconds rôles, du Capitaine Fracasse à Clémentine chérie en passant par Thérèse Desqueyroux, de Georges Franju d'après Mauriac.
Deux rôles le poussent à abandonner les planches : ceux du châtelain résistant dans La Vie de château, de Jean-Paul Rappeneau (1965), et du paysan rêveur dans Alexandre le Bienheureux, d'Yves Robert (1967). Noiret saute alors des farces de William Klein (Qui êtes-vous Polly Magoo ?) à une adaptation de Marcel Aymé (Clérambard, où il campe un aristocrate ruiné) ou à une comédie en demi-teinte (La Vieille Fille, de Jean-Pierre Blanc, chronique d'un célibataire en vacances face à une Annie Girardot effarouchée). Il se laisse embarquer par Hollywood : Justine, de George Cukor (1968), L'Etau, d'Alfred Hitchcock (1969), La Guerre de Murphy, de Peter Yates (1970).

D'Edouard Molinaro (Les Aveux les plus doux, La Mandarine) à Henri Verneuil (Le Serpent), d'Yves Boisset (L'Attentat) à Henri Graziani (Poil de carotte), il poursuit son gros bonhomme de chemin.
Sans heurts ni scandales (sauf celui de La Grande Bouffe, de Marco Ferreri, 1973), Philippe Noiret tord le cou aux amateurs d'étiquettes. Il avait tout fait pour rater la carrière de jeune premier qui ne lui convenait pas, il réussit celle qui lui correspond : sa gueule, sa voix, son ventre le posent en héritier de Raimu ou de Charles Laughton.
La gueule est celle d'un Gargantua ironique, plein de santé et d'une sérénité joufflue. La voix, grave, sait jouer de multiples intonations pour exprimer la jovialité, la colère, l'humour, la gourmandise ou l'incivilité. Le ventre lui octroie une stature imposante de gugusse bourru aux réflexes d'empereur romain, mais qui sait éclater d'un rire énorme et alimenter une faconde inaltérable.
De tout cela jaillit une présence. Hugolien et balzacien à la fois, Noiret n'hésite pas à remettre en cause sa popularité grandissante. Il pourrait reposer ses quatre-vingt-dix kilos sur un trône péniblement gagné et interpréter des fonctionnaires, des bâfreurs, des clochards ou des pères tyranniques. Il préfère, au risque de décevoir, lutter contre le confort en défendant de jeunes metteurs en scène, se mouille pour les aider à monter leur premier film.
Il devient le double de l'un deux. Après lui avoir fait interpréter l'humble artisan de L'Horloger de Saint-Paul (1973), Bertrand Tavernier trouve en lui un "acteur autobiographique". Et de Français moyen, adepte de la salade aux "ouagnons", il le transforme en régent libertin (Que la fête commence, 1975), en notable bourgeois antidreyfusard (Le Juge et l'Assassin, 1976), en shérif peureux faisant sa besogne de justicier avec un machiavélisme débonnaire (Coup de torchon, 1981).
Chaque fois, y compris dans Une semaine de vacances (1980), où l'horloger-Noiret revient faire un clin d'œil autour d'un poulet au vinaigre, c'est Tavernier qui transparaît derrière cette grande carcasse brutale d'apparence : générosité, doutes, incertitudes sur la justice, l'éducation, l'amour ou la religion, vigueur anarchiste qui le porte à casser les vitres, corps incapable de cacher sa tendresse pour un gratin dauphinois ou un haricot de mouton. Un personnage cuirassé contre la douleur que l'on retrouvera dans La Vie et rien d'autre (1989), où, pour interpréter le commandant Dellaplane de la première guerre mondiale, il arbore les décorations de son propre père, qui avait fait Verdun.

"Noiret est crédible dans n'importe quel contexte social, dans n'importe quel métier", dit Tavernier. C'est-à-dire en écrivain (Le Secret, de Robert Enrico, 1974), adepte de la vengeance expéditive sous l'Occupation (Le Vieux Fusil, de Robert Enrico, 1975), prof de grec à la Sorbonne (Tendre Poulet, de Philippe de Broca, 1977), minable escroc (Monsieur Albert, de Jacques Renard, 1975), assassin belge féru d'Egypte (L'Etoile du Nord, de Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1982), soupirant égaré dans la brousse (L'Africain, de Philippe de Broca, 1982), officier colonial (Fort Saganne, d'Alain Corneau, 1984), flic ripoux (Les Ripoux, de Claude Zidi, 1984), directeur d'hôtel à toque de fourrure (Twist again à Moscou, de Jean-Marie Poiré, 1986), pervers animateur de télé (Masques, de Claude Chabrol, 1987), aristo breton sous la Terreur (Chouans, de Philippe de Broca, 1988), tueur à la retraite (Max et Jérémie, de Claire Devers, 1992), ventripotent d'Artagnan (La Fille de d'Artagnan, de Ricardo Freda, 1994), inquiétant Mazarin (Le Retour des mousquetaires, de Richard Lester, 1989), comédien égocentrique à la Guitry (Le Roi de Paris, de Dominique Maillet, 1995), comédien au bord de l'hospice (Les Grands Ducs, de Patrice Leconte, 1996), vieux ranci (Les Côtelettes, de Bertrand Blier, 2003), papa mourant (Père et fils, de Michel Boujenah, 2003).
A cet impressionnant inventaire, il faut ajouter quelques joyaux, jalons de sa carrière italienne. Il fut l'un des incorrigibles quinquagénaires qui giflaient les voyageurs penchés aux fenêtres d'un train qui s'ébranle dans Mes chers amis (Mario Monicelli, 1975), l'un des officiers du Désert des Tartares (Valerio Zurlini, 1976), le juge de Trois Frères (Francesco Rosi, 1980), l'un des protagonistes de La Famille (Ettore Scola, 1987), le vieux médecin de Ferrare amoureux d'un jeune étudiant dans Les Lunettes d'or (Giuliano Montaldo, 1987), le débonnaire projectionniste de Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988)…
"Je suis un désolé gai, disait-il, avec peu d'illusions sur la nature humaine." Poignée de main franche et franc-parler, nœud pap', chemise à rayures, belles godasses et cigare, il aimait afficher son élégance pour protester contre le laisser-aller, "le débraguetté".
Philippe Noiret était marié à la comédienne Monique Chaumette. Il avait obtenu deux Césars, l'un pour Le Vieux Fusil en 1976, l'autre pour La Vie et rien d'autre en 1990.
"Quand je me retourne, lâcha-t-il un jour, je vois quelqu'un qui a fait correctement son métier d'artisan. J'ai fait des films difficiles, peu. Des films pas assez exigeants, peu. La moyenne n'est pas mal : je suis un acteur populaire et j'aime cette idée."