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Issue 516: Shirley Varnagy: Freedom of Speech is One Thing and Debauchery Another

* Blonde and blue-eyed, beautiful and very slim like a top model . On February 1, she will be 33 years old, “the age of Christ” and in March she will give birth to her daughter, “I still don’t know what her name is going to be, I’m looking for the name,” she says, SHIRLEY VARNAGY 2stroking a belly that cannot be seen. Caraqueña, claims to be Venezuelan of Jewish religion, “I always clarify that.” He was born into a Judeo-Hungarian family, “my grandparents were survivors of the Holocaust .” He studied Social Communication at the Andrés Bello Catholic University , where he graduated with honors. Narrated news on Planet FM, was a producer on the X Circuit and then Globovision, RCTV was in that closed be unplugged his Hook, a youth program “with enough tuning”, returned to the news channel where he hosted Soluciones y Shirley , a talk show that he had to resign, because “he could not accompany the pressures. A few days ago she started her radio Shirleyon 99.9 FM. He has won more than ten awards throughout his career and states that when the journalist is silent in the face of injustice, “barbarities are committed. That a journalist has his own voice is important, but it is also important to know how to listen to the other. Although I am not of radical opinions, I am not complacent either. And while it is true that Venezuela is not going through its best moments, “it depends on us and the education we give our children, that we can overcome the cultural, social, economic and political crisis that overwhelms us.” This is Shirley Varnagy. What he said? Better not tell us!

Keep promoting Journalism continues . Tell us about your first paper child. In addition to the illusion of conceiving him and then giving birth to him, we imagine that he is waiting for what happens to him.

–He is my first child and I am very happy to make him known. When asked about my life, I always talk about three births that keep me very busy: the Shirley book . Journalism continues , my program on Hits 99.9 Shirley Radio and my baby who will be born in March. When I decided to write the book, I did it thinking of a space to communicate with my audience during the time I was off the air. Migrating from audiovisual language to written language was a way to keep in communication with the public. Basically my expectation is that people know or remember what I did at Shirleywhen I was on Globovisión. Regardless of the situation in the country, of the criticism that there was towards what was the dynamics of the channel, of the change in editorial line, I have to say that the program that I conducted was characterized by its plurality, which is the journalism in which I have always believed and that I have tried to transfer to each of the spaces where I have worked. My intention is none other than to introduce people to the country we have.

– Do you think, at face value, that the reader, regardless of their political position, will feel that “that” is the country we have?

–My book summarizes the highlights of the interviews with national and international personalities, televised and non-televised situations, as well as their perception of the character after each public encounter during the program cycle. Each page collects the faces of a country. I repeat: I wanted to build a space in which all Venezuelans would listen to the country through the plurality of voices, with different political or apolitical thoughts, that they would meet every night with that other vision of the country that they tried, in their daily lives. In Journalism Continues it is from the last televised appearance of Leopoldo López, to Diosa Canales, from Jorge Rodríguez to Roque Valero …

–Now that you are in the chair of the interviewees, what image does Shirley Varnagy of Venezuela have?

– I have the image of a deeply polarized country; However, at this time, I observe a change in that polarization: it is no longer opposition and Chavismo, but those who believe in Madurismo as such and those who are not Maduristas. It is a recomposition, from the political point of view… Venezuela is deteriorated not only economically, but also socially –which is the saddest part-, in terms of communication –there are fewer and fewer windows for citizens to express their opinions.

–Of 220 interviews, what did you deprive to only select the 20 that appear in the book, number of pages or criteria?

– He deprived plurality, above all. But we must not forget the cost, the investment made by the publisher in the production of the book.

– After El journalismo continues , is there another book in preparation?

–There is interest on the part of Editorial Planeta de Venezuela to make another book –the first was about the television program–, but from my perspective as a journalist.

– Are you not afraid of boring the reader with a similar theme?

-Not at all, since the journalist becomes the voice of the citizen, he is the mediator between the citizenry and the power -so that the latter hears what the former has to say-, and vice versa as well. It seems to me a perversion that the journalist or the media is stigmatized in terms of their work to inform; Power needs the media to report what it does, but power also has to listen to what the citizen demands… We are an uninformed society, therefore, the journalist has a fundamental role.

–Social networks have become a vehicle for information, a way of doing express journalism, therefore disinformation is relative.

– The penetration of social networks is not the common denominator. Although we enjoy some leadership in mobile telephony – there are people who have up to four cell phones – society is not completely connected. And whoever reads, is not absolutely informed about what is happening in the country. Suddenly in Caracas there is more control of information, but that does not happen in the interior of the country … There are few windows for citizens to find out. We are a more entertaining society than an informed one.

“Vargas Llosa supported my decision”

–You resigned Globovisión for the non-transmission of the last block of the interview with Mario Vargas Llosa. Did you make the decision thinking with a cool head and feeling a warm heart?

– It is important that I say that for the accomplishment of that interview with the writer, the channel lent me all its collaboration. Hence, he did not intuit that some kind of censorship could be applied, since there was support between the two to put on the air a great program. There are reasons that for confidentiality, I should not reveal; They were previous things that happened and that in the end led me to make the decision to resign. What was public and notorious was the non-transmission of the last block of the program. If I made the decision thinking with a cool head and feeling a warm heart? Well, I have a habit of weighing my decisions. Sometimes people feel morbid when they think that there was a confrontation between Globovisión and I, but that did not happen. Before raising and stating my resignation, I thought coldly, without emotions involved … We all know that in this country the task of the media is difficult. It is true that in my case there were pressures, but I could not continue with that dynamic, I could not accompany those pressures.

“But was it really worth it?” It was said that he had fallen into the trap of arrogance by believing himself the fourth estate.
-Humility defines me, therefore, I can not act arrogant, be arrogant … Although I lost a job, it was not Shirley Varnagy who lost, but the viewer, which is unfortunate. Regretful? Well, I have not worked on my personal ethics, my values ​​and principles, with passion, with honesty.When I saw that Globovisión’s situation was increasingly difficult – several journalists had already resigned, others were fired and others left -, I promised the people, the public – I am a woman of my word – that the day one of my guests –or I as a journalist-, were the object of censorship, until that day I would work on that television station. I said it so that the public would trust my word and the type of journalism I do; had I stayed, breaking my word, I would have disappointed him.

– “My intention was to build a space in which all Venezuelans would listen to the country through the plurality of voices, with different political or apolitical thoughts, that they would meet every night with that other vision of the country that they tried, in their daily lives” He said, but by resigning, did he not close another door to plurality, doing a disservice not only to the opposition, but also to the Government and independent thinkers?

-It is a perspective that someone can contemplate, I’m not saying no, but I have another way of thinking. My decision was an example that above a job are the values ​​of a journalist, of a human being. Whether the interviewee was Vargas Llosa or Pepito Pérez, it doesn’t matter; the journalist has to open the microphone to those who have the right to express themselves. I recognize that a space was lost, that I lost my job, but when there is so much absence or loss of values, one is obliged to show society a correct performance above a salary and even fame. Shirley was a hit show …

– Did your decision transcend borders, did it reach the ears of Vargas Llosa?

-After the interview, I did not have contact with him again. However, I was surprised that he wrote to my email, expressing how he felt about my resignation. That letter, with your permission, is published in the book. My wish is that people buy the book, read it and know about the writer’s reaction… I was surprised by his delicacy, that detail of writing to me. I never imagined that a Nobel Prize in Literature, one of the most important in the Spanish-speaking world, would surprise me in that way, supporting my decision.

–If I received a call from Globovisión to “come home” and with the promise of a better program than Shirley…

–With Globovisión I closed a cycle, in addition, right now there are no conditions for a program like the one I like to do for that type of channel.

“I’m not on my knees

nor do I have a scrambled ego ”

– Did you dream of a free, ethical, rigorous, brave journalism?

– Those are the intrinsic values ​​of journalism as such. I dreamed of a journalism that would educate and I did it in Shirley , that’s why it took me so much to make the decision to resign. With this program – which went beyond informing – he educated for tolerance, for respect, for reflection.

– Do you continue to believe in the profession despite the disappointments and storms that it produces?

–Of course, what is under discussion are the conditions for practicing journalism in Venezuela, which are not the best. In my short but intense communication experience, it has hit me very hard. I started working at Globovisión as a news editor. The revision of the libretto so that it came out perfect – and was not misinterpreted – was tortuous; I am very careful in the discipline of verification and perfection was for me an obsessive question. Then I went to Rctv and plugged in, a platform for the youth that had a large audience, closed its doors when the channel had to close its doors. After two years out of work, I returned to Globovisión, which stood between fines. And when my program was successful, I had to resign because it was censored… Given the situations I have experienced, I have wondered if it is not the time for me to practice or Venezuela is not the country to develop the career that I am passionate about.

– But he has not given up, he still has his own voice.

–I keep looking for slits for expression; It is not the conditions of the country that are going to defeat me. As for my own voice, because the work done by me has never responded to anyone’s lines, I have always been attached to the truth and I have never stopped being on the side of the citizen. That is the duty of journalism … For a journalist to have their own voice is important, but it is also important to know how to listen to the other. Although I am not of radical opinions, I am not complacent either.

– Do you think that in times of Twitter, journalism goes through a moment of verbal economy, because of the everyday and banality of the issues?

-Social networks are interesting windows, hence the importance of learning to communicate through them so that this economy of words is convincing enough for us to perform. But even more important is the discipline of verification, especially now when opinion spaces are diminishing.

–And isn’t it the media’s fault the lack of spaces for opinion and criticism?

-I do not believe it; It is the fault of the system, of the Government, which has been very perverse to the fear of a social communication medium of having spaces for opinion.

– Today, journalism is not very credible.

–The journalism I do has its discipline of verification and confirms its source, the investigation is above all. They are the criteria that must prevail when it comes to doing journalism.

– Currently, journalists are on their knees?

– Not me, I have the microphone at the service of all citizens of any political tendency.

– Some people think that their egos are scrambled.

– I speak in the first person again: not me. I have made humility my philosophy of life. The more humble a journalist is, the more exclusive he will achieve; If you do not give up that attitude, it will be difficult for you to move in the information field.

–What would you advise a recently graduated social communicator?

-Responsibility, first of all, because reporting is going to be a daily task. You must train to know how to communicate the news in this digital age.

– Tell us about your return to radio, what are your hopes?

–Today, Monday, is my third day on the radio. The objective of the program is to interview personalities from different sectors of society – politics, sports, economics, art and entertainment, medicine, etc.-. The strength of the first hour is the interview and the second time we dedicate it to X topic that, generally, has to do with the guest … You will have realized that the interview is my passion and that I love to scrutinize all the sources, that the human part of a person connects many more people. My hope ?, that listeners tune in to Shirley radio , just like Shirley tuned in, the TV show. With my return to radio there was a lot of expectation, people miss the television program, it was like a must. I have already started getting good feedback.

– Doesn’t it appeal to you to write in a newspaper, as a columnist?

– I would like, I have contemplated. What I don’t know is when (laughs). Taking Shirley to the press would be interesting. Few people know it, but I love to write spears; If I could, I would always do it.

“I am very respectful

of the religion of the other ”

–After the attack against the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo , the Pope made his opinion very clear : “Although freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, it has a limit, which is not to offend. You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others ”.

-The religion has become a very critical issue. I believe that the debate, or rather the problem, is not centered on freedom of expression, but rather on the intolerance we have towards the opinion of others. And a Hebrew woman tells you … On many occasions I could have felt very offended, stigmatized – Jews have been stigmatized long before World War II and during it we were victims of attacks by the press who made fun of us and caricatured us -. However, at home they taught me about the sense of tolerance. People are debating whether what happened in Paris was a glut of Charlie Hebdo cartoonistsor the cause was religious. In my opinion, people have the right to love others or not love them, to express themselves as they want from those people. Now, that I share that, well I do not share it because there are civilized ways of dealing with such situations. One thing is freedom of expression and another, debauchery. I am very respectful of the religion of the other, but I think that is not the point, but intolerance. I am convinced that we must educate people, society to tolerate the other’s thinking even if they don’t like it, but above all to know how to unleash those battles in the field of ideas … Yes, definitely, there are civilized, different ways, to claim a nuisance, an offense.

– “It is true that you cannot react violently, but if Gasbarri (one of his collaborators and a great friend) says a bad word from my mother, a punch can be expected. It’s normal! ”Exclaimed Francisco.

-I have another way of thinking … There were and are other ways to fight that battle called tolerance. When you are of a minority religion, offenses and stigmatization ensue.

– Today there is a lot of talk about bullying, were you a victim of bullying for being Jewish?

-Never. When my grandparents arrived in Venezuela, they chose a country where they could freely express their freedom of worship, and find a lot of tolerance. At the time, Venezuela was a country that many chose to flee from a Europe that discriminated, that was anti-Semitic… My first job on the radio was given to me by a Muslim, a man of Lebanese origin; I have had great Muslim friends, not Christian Arabs. I have never felt stigmatized in my country. I never tire of repeating that I am Venezuelan of Jewish religion.

“What did your religion teach you?”

– First of all, to be tolerant. As Holocaust survivors, at home I never saw my grandparents feel hatred or resentment towards Germans or German society. My sister and I were taught to forgive, but not to forget. Do not forget, but not out of resentment, but so that things do not repeat themselves. “I’m going to tell you this story because you have to know it so that you can tell others what human beings are capable of doing based on an ideology, a leader, a belief,” my grandmother told me.

“Tell us the story she was telling you.”

–My grandfather was 24 years old when he was sent to the concentration camp – which was an extermination camp – in Mauthausen; From there he came out weighing 22 kilos, he was one of the 14 survivors, of the 14 thousand who died. To survive, my grandmother had to do many things; she was shot in the arm that compromised her mobility all her life … I decided to be a journalist when I learned that in Hungary, the last country where Nazism arrived, people did not know that almost three million Hebrews had been systematically murdered . My grandparents thought that they would have work in the fields and that they would be happy, the censorship did not allow the truth to be known: that those fields were death camps. That is why I wanted to specialize to know how to communicate that kind of thing. The responsibility of a journalist is not to be silent in the face of injustices;

My grandmother told me that prior to the concentration camp, the Hebrew was denigrated, humiliated, exiled, accused of being dirty and guilty of all evils, and the solution was to kill them. Already in the concentration camp they lived in ghettos, in subhuman conditions, they did forced labor, they hardly ate. And they realized that something bad was happening in that place where smoke was coming out, because their friends did not return. They were crematories … I had never said it, but my husband’s grandmother’s father left the synagogue in Berlin on a Friday, a week his ashes were returned in a box. Now that I talk about it, I remember what a survivor who was orphaned at age 12 told me: “I don’t know why God left me alive, I wanted to die, just like my family.” Over time she understood that she had to live to tell people what human beings are capable of. In my case, I think God put me on the journalistic path to talk about the holocaust; Believe it or not, there is a lot of misinformation about it. And when I tell what happened, the receptivity is enormous. For me, nothing is more comforting than people taking my word for it, transmitting what my grandmother told me so that it does not happen again.

“I’m worried about getting old”

–Although it sounds “morbid” to you, why don’t you tell the readers of Las Verdades de Miguel a little more about your life.

(A wide smile) –In my Twitter biography I put three essential things: 1) I am Jewish –I was born and will die Jewish, that will never change, it is my religion and that of my ancestors with which I feel totally identified. 2) I am Venezuelan – that will not change either, I was born in Caracas and I hope to end my days in Venezuela. 3) I am a mother – that will never change, children are for life. Beyond those three essential things, I am of the Aquarius sign, I was born on February 1 and I will be 33 years old, the age of Christ.

– Are you worried about expression lines?

– I have always worried about getting old, the work of women in the media, especially on television, is very fleeting; Furthermore, in Venezuela the stereotype is very important. When I was younger, they offered me the source of shows, because my image was good for that, but I insisted on programs that would make me last over time and that is why I chose journalism … I am anguished that time passes and I cannot fulfill all of them my goals. Know? I don’t know why, but sometimes I don’t look older.

– You say you hope to end your days in Venezuela, but haven’t you thought about going to another country, especially for your children?

–In my moments of pause I have thought about it. However, for me it is very important that my daughter is born in Venezuela – that she feels proud of the country that we are – and that I work on my professional projects. I can’t say what fate will bring me, but I feel deeply rooted in my country. I think, yes, internationalize my work, but that does not have to do with the country condition, but rather that the work of a Venezuelan reaches other screens.

-Only daughter?

–I have a sister who, although she is younger, has more children than me –4-. As she hurried to be a wife and mother, I was slowing down; the housewife was not a topic that convinced me because before it was my profession. I wanted to get married, but I also wanted to be a communicator and I wondered how to do not fail in both facets. Life taught me that I could do both in parallel. However, at first I was overcome with fear; It took me a long time to have Noah, my first child and look, my first job came when I was pregnant with him and I started my radio show while pregnant with my daughter (laughs).

“Does the baby have a name?”

– Not yet, I’m looking for it because it has to be a name in Hebrew and Spanish, that is, it meets both characteristics. That is something very complicated (laughs).

Ping pong
– In Venezuela are we what we want or are we what we see?

–How do I answer that question… Pass it on, we leave it last.

– Do you suffer from SIT (wiretapping syndrome)?

-The truth, I have not noticed (laughs).

“Do you also have the impression that something is going to happen?”

-The year is beginning …

–Come cap?

– I try not to eat it (smiles mischievously).

“What do you do if the big bad wolf comes?”

(Laughter) –I get like Little Red Riding Hood!

“Independent thinker?”

– I have always expressed my ideas freely.

– Where can you still find the lady ‘superlative ethics’?

– Ethics is individual, it depends on education and the values ​​of each family.

– What is the priority for Shirley Varnagy?

– Educate my children with democratic values ​​and, of course, continue to inform.

“If I could make a wish come true, what would it be?”

–Wowooooo, I have a long list of wishes and although the one I’m going to tell you sounds like a miss’s response , I want to see a united Venezuela, where tolerance and respect among its citizens are deprived. A second wish is to be able to return to television (he blinks and tries to hide his blue gaze).

– For whom you feel weak.

–For my husband and for Noah, my 4-year-old son.

– A pregnant woman’s craving?

–Pasta with bolognese sauce. If I continue eating it, I will end up like a barrel (she smiles while touching a “belly” that, from so small, denies her 7 months of pregnancy).

–At what age did you end your fairy tale?

– I think that in 1999 …

–How many toads did she kiss until she found her prince charming.

– I will tell you that there were not many.

– Did the teenager dream of a movie life?

-Never. Dad always taught me to keep my feet on the ground. He knew that life was not a fairy tale.

-Today, what makes your life more fabulous.

– Motherhood, make no mistake about it.

“Has he been the object of treason?”

– The truth, I have not found out.

– A reality that frightens you?

– Not being able to express myself; one of my great fears is not being able to be free in my opinions.

-What puts your vulnerability to the surface.

–My family, the emotion of bringing a girl into the world …

-What makes her blush.

“A clever compliment.”

“What are you not ashamed of?”

“Of being Jewish.”

–Hairdressing with a blade or wax?

–With wax, even if it hurts.

– Nothing better to be at home than to walk like Eva in Paradise?

“Of course, God brought us into the world like this, naked.”

– Is motherhood sexy?

– No, but it is very feminine.

-Fogosa, when?

–In the face of injustices.

“A suspicious truth?”

–The results of the 2014 presidential elections. Be careful, I want you to write that this truth was suspicious on both sides, those 200 thousand votes could have been for Maduro or Capriles.

“Cold-minded and calculating?”

– They are not “attributes” that accompany me in my day to day.

“Why would I have wanted to be born a boy?”

(Laughter) –To have children without modifying my statuesque body!

–Do you question God?

“I don’t have to question it.”

–And you, what do you question?

– Being such a demanding woman, I am so demanding that sometimes I can’t relax.

“The offering to perfect peace?”

-The one that must occur between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Why it’s easy to remember Shirley.”

– On a professional level, because of the sharpness of my interviews, that has characterized me and I have tried to maintain it as a brand, a seal.

-What is it about “goldilocks”?

“The name, Shirley!” (laughs)

What kind of woman will she be in 30 years?

– I would like to be like Christiane Amanpour; To have her poise and courage, to be able to develop all those edges that she has developed, I would love to. I really like the Latin market because it is where I feel most comfortable, but I want to take my career to the Anglo-Saxon market.

“Owner of what?”

– I hope to always be the owner of the truth.

– Victim of machismo?


– Are there real friends in television?

–They are counted on the fingers of the hands.

– Pope Francis is …

-… avant-garde.

–And what about Miguel’s Truths?

–I have to give a good answer to close this PingPong (hahahahahahaha)… Miguel’s Truths are tricky. Ah, the first question I owe you, I have to think about it.

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