Thursday, July 06, 2017

France mourns one of her greatest

Sometimes we are not aware that we live in the times of heroes. And they die and we remember.

When she faced a 95% male audience
to regulate abortion in France
Simone Veil was probably the lone France hero alive.  She died last week and the outpouring came from all fronts, except as expected from the far right Front National who could not forgive her among other things that Simone Veil was one of the 2.500 survivors of the 75.000 French Jews sent to Nazi concentration camps. Or rather, that she answered only too well to what Le Pen and daughter are all about.

Her career was truly admirable even though she was never president nor prime minister (though often in the short lists). She did not win a Nobel prize (though her work for Europe would have been more than enough merits). She did not discover any miracle cure (but she faced one of the worst hidden epidemics of our times). She was feminist through her mere authority in a country long used to political favorites mistresses threads to power.

In short, she became a national hero because she did her duty, she worked hard at it, her ideas and goals were clear, she never stopped being a woman and a mother, she never let her past get the best of her.

Her milestones have been incredible.

She was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, which she survived with a sister, but lost her mother, father and brother.

She was one of the first French woman reaching high levels in the judicial power, and a  prison inspector where one of her goals was to improve the fate of Algerian women in jail during Algeria's independence war.

She was plucked almost out of nowhere by then President Giscard d'Estaing who thought it was about time women got real jobs in government. And to have her pass a law to regulate abortion in France, until then a crime deserving the death penalty if your performed them.

She indeed faced a 97% male Assembly to present a law that would give equality to women in the face of abortion, an evil that could not be hidden anymore, and that affected mostly the poor who could not pay for travel overseas.  She collected stunning abuses from many representatives who even qualified her of Nazi sympathizer, ignoring a past of which she had been delicate about.

But she became a hero that day.

Her career would not stop here. She was tapped by Giscard to run the center right list for the first European Parliament open elections. Her list won in France and days later she was elected as the first president of Europe's elected parliament, its first woman.

Late in life she was again minister, she reached the French constitutional court and she even got what is perhaps the very most coveted honor in France, one of the 40 seats at the French Academy.

And all of this she did, which surprises many, from the right, proving that social reform is not a matter of politics but of ethics and social coherence.

I was young when all of these achievements took place, but I clearly remember her role in the 1974 abortion law, the beginning of my interests in politics. I do not know whether I saw that picture then, but it is her lifetime picture, when she started her speech and when we all knew that France was turning a new page of history, that things would never be the same. It bears noting that the right was bitterly divided and that the law passed because the left voted for it. Which is perhaps why the left could never bring itself not to admire her.

If I write such an un-Venezuelan text it is because I cannot fail to compare the rich life of a woman like Simone Veil with the one of all the feminine heroines that Chavez has tried to make us believe existed when all of them have been mere errand girls to do his dirty work. And cashed for it, by the way, matching men in corruption without much trouble.

And also I write because I have always admired Veil and shamefully I had to wait for her death to realize that the time of heroes is not over. Fortunately in one of his first real decisions president Macron decided to bring her to the French Pantheon, where she will join Marie Curie and Victor Hugo. She is that big for the French.

Because it is through people like Simone Veil that we remember what La République truly stands for. We tend to forget that there are things bigger than us. Simone Veil never, ever forgot.


A few pictures of today national funeral so you know how France puts to rest her heroes (a new national ceremony will take place when her coffin will be taken to the national Pantheon).

The general view at Hotel des Invalides, the largest dignified private space
in Paris, built by Louis XIV, the Sun King for its disabled war veterans
The honor guard to carry her coffin
Alone, all dignitaries watching including the president
A way to remind folks that "sic transit gloria mundi"
From left to right, mixed in no order, the political who's who of France would
not miss such a photo op. But who also know that they will not make the cut.
Finally, though its president, the nation´s respect


  1. Anonymous5:59 PM

    Thank you so much for telling her story. I had not heard of her but will look for further information on her life.

  2. Anonymous8:00 PM

    Magnifique, héroïque, merci Daniel. Heroes come in many shapes and colours, you never know when or where, but you recognize them immediately.


  3. Hailed as hero for having children killed in their mothers womb... You're out of your fucking mind.

    1. ... and you are one ignorant and rude dude - as well as being misinformed and hyperbolic...

    2. rwa

      you are welcome not to read such a sinful blog anymore.

      if you cannot understand she regulated how abortion was taking place , and not allowing it as you seem to imply, then you understand nothing. banning abortion HAS NEVER STOPPED IT.

      deal with it

  4. Lopez is out if jail

  5. Your vilification of the national front seems gratuitous. Unless someone defends La Republique from a mohammedan invasion jews like Simone Veil will be expelled from public life as political liabilities and eventually driven out of France entirely.Rather sadly no one but the national front is willing to mention the matter or defend the republic.


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