“Poverty is older than richness“. Interview-conversation between Diego Maradona and Emir Kusturica in Serbian newspaper Politika, january 2006

Poverty is older than richness

    • Emir Kusturica : Diego Maradona is the man who felt in his skin all the humiliation of the world in 1985, at the historical dribble during the match between Argentina and England. Seven players stayed behind him in that moment, and those players took place for all the humiliated people during years and years, and who were waiting for revenge. For me, Maradona, in those few minutes, dribbled Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Great Britain, the Queen Mother, Prince Charles, Pope John Paul 2, and - since football is a game of imagination - George Bush father and son ! For Maradona that was enough. After Paul Breitner, there was no more football players on the side of the poors. The Germany representative player was called an „engaged footballer“ during the romantic times of 70s. Maybe some people think that football players are stupid, indeed almost everyone does. But, I will not agree, because how can they make millions on their bank accounts if they were not smart. Yes, they are uneducated, of course ! We are in train to Mar del Plata at a demonstration against Bush, and Maradona is in that train. I discovered that Paul Breitner is not lonely, and the 70s are not lost for ever. In this train there is no places for stupidity. The situation is totally opposite.
  • Diego Maradona : You know, I learned to play football in the dark. Behind my house, there was the stadium of the team of the fourth league. I played the ball all day, and when the other children went homes I stayed in dark for two hours. I did not seen anything in that darkness ! I shot toward the goal, and I oriented just on two big sticks, searching for the net. Ten years after, when I signed my first contract for „Argentino Juniors“ I understood that the balls in the dark were very precise!
    • EK : You were born in Favel Fiorito, the most poor part of Buenos Aires. I must ask you what was in your mind, because you never forgot that people, and you stayed with them forever…
  • DM : Poor people will never betray you… Most of my friends, and one of them is Coppola my manager, robbed me and took money from me. But, my homeland friends from Fiorito stayed the same. This is the real place of poverty. Today there is maybe more asphalt,but poverty is the same as when I lived there. Politicians and those close to government became richer and richer. I also had a chance to become one of them, but I refused, and said NO. Reason is because I should steal from the poors. Just one time in my life I spoke with people involved in politic life of Argentina, and I told everything they didn't want to hear.
    • EK : Bono Vox and Bob Geldof are not as famous as you, but they are using very well their popularity for humanitarian actions and their promotion. You never did something like that.
  • DM : Money takes yours time, and nothing else ! You must save just a little dignity, pride and your health. So, 44 years are behind me, and I'm aware of the fact that poverty is in progress. I look in between those who have everything, and the others without anything. It is not just a problem of Argentina, Venezuela, Brazil, or Cuba… Americans smashed our heads. Look what they did to us in the 70s. They made us babies as they wanted, I speak of course metaphorically… They put a military regime in Argentina, 30.000 people killed, then in Chile, Nicaragua, Guatemala. First they beat you, and then they leave you suffering. They come back with credits and a lot of money, and you are like a dog and live like a dog. But that doesn't work like this anymore, and they don't have the right for that kind of politic. After the military interventions and the support of fascist regimes in Latin America we are finally unified. Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, we are again together to say loud and clear in their face what we think of that killer of Bush. But Emir I don't know why I tell all this to you, when you understand all that, you are with us, aren't you? What are your feelings ?
    • EK : I'm like Charlie Chaplin when he was walking in the street and someone gives him a flag ! Let's speak about the relations inside America. If I understand clearly, they just smashed your brains, like they did with the OIL Agreement. The gave money to Mexico, and made 30.000 employees. Some Mexican had nice pays, but the money went in another country, not in Mexico…
  • DM : Yes, that is correct ! Mexico is also really poor, except those 30.000 employees. American politicians did that all around the world, and that is always the same story. They take benefits ,and leave you just pieces…
    • EK : So, what we can do about that. It is the same situation since the Pharaos and the Roman Empire ?
  • DM : What to do ? It is hard to change the things, but the important thing is that we can speak about that ! Unfortunately, the Pope doesn't want to speak about the problem, even if he should do… He has on his mind just one thing : how to keep the Vatican, just like the Americans. The Vatican is a very rich and powerful empire. John Paul 2 never was in Africa, and he never went there to kiss the ground and feed hungry children, also he never was in Argentina. But he took 150 million dollars for a commercial for condoms. An agency gave that money for a advertising campaign, but the Pope didn't have fate in condoms ! So he took the money and, of course nobody speaks about that. That is in the Vatican documentations, and noone mentioned how the Pope abandoned Africa. That is impossible… Number of poor people increased 9 times since the Berlin wall is down.
    • EK : We are approaching Mar del Plata, and protesters are sleeping, in the air you can notice a forgotten solidarity. Just like the characters in the films of 70s, when they chose their destiny. I believe that every word of Maradona is expressing care and understanding of today's world. Once upon a time, he was like God, like the myth of Gilgamesh. An epic story about destroying a God made of mud. Since the time when he was the one and only magician of the game, to the moment he was without air. Stuck in a place where he couldn't breathe, he didn't have where to go. He was more popular than the Pope. On the top, so high, he didn't have enough air. And nobody had told him that such a highness was not safe for him ! He started to take cocaine, as in Gilgamesh the „God of mud“ was hit on the ground. He started to search himself, like the guy which appears in the commercial for spaghetti, the fat Gauchos. Even in that moments he tried to come back into space with air enough for him. He wanted to be „normal“ and that brought him to a clinically dead man state for four minutes. But the dream is back ! And I, I'm a witness sitting in a chair next to him. I'm very lucky because I'm also part of his recovery. All have abandoned him, except his family and Fidel Castro. When the hospital of Buenos Aires closed his doors to him, Fidel hugged him. People can think that he could have never lived without drugs, because he couldn't support the burden of glory. But that's not just for that ! From his biography you can notice that he could not take care of himself, and in one moment he didn't know how to handle himself. When he became a professional, River Plata offered him a lot of money, but he refused and went to Boca Juniors, when some supporters try to blackmail him, he fights with them, when his coach lied to him, he ruined the dressing room at the stadium. He never believed for real that money is just a waste of time…
  • DM : I remember my father, when he was back from work, he didn't earn enough for 8 of us children. We waited him in silence, because there was no food. That, people can't understand, especially those who were never hungry. My sister had to eat less so she could save dinner for me. In that kind of situation you develop sympathy, love and care, and those stories from my childhood wasn't disappear just like that. My mother faked stomach sicknesses to save food for her kids, and she always looked in the pots to verify again and again if there is no food for all. My brother, that is poverty, yes it is…Your mother lies to feed you. Someone can says this is science-fiction, but Emir, my brother that is the real life, and I tell you the truth.
    • EK : Yes, this is poverty, and it's very sad. Some people forget very soon about that, and you how do you keep that feeling from your childhood ?
  • DM : I did not forget ! I can't forget ! Poverty is older than richness ! My father worked on Kvantaca market places and always took heavy bags, even when he was old. When he got home my mother put him ice on his neck and on his back, to heal his pain. And we kids always were around him, that was like some kind of ritual that cannot vanish from my memories….
    • EK : Let's talk about aristocracy among poor people. What is the strongest memory from the time of your childhood?
  • DM : Dignity ! We never made birthdays parties, we never had money for that. Friends, family and cousins would give you a kiss on your birthday, and that kiss was the biggest present. I can speak a lot about bourgeoisie and poverty. I never made difference, but it is not the case of the other who became rich. I have no doubts. People made compromise to be near politicians ,and politicians used them when they needed their services. If you don't fit into that kind of profile, then you are mad. And yes, I'm mad, and I rather be mad then take what they served me. You know, Emir, I was a dead man for four minutes, and now I know what life is….
    • EK : Since Ethiopia and „Live aid“ Bob Geldof is richer than before. Bono travels all over the world and asks the presidents to convince them to clean the debts of the poor African countries. He even lunched with Bush.
  • DM : I know one thing that I will never have enough courage to lunch with Bush…
    • EK : Why ?
  • DM : I will not feel nice eating with a mass-murderer.
    • EK : Marquez told me a thing, that we can say many things about Fidel, but he was the guardian of hispano culture heritage in Latin America.
  • DM : Yes, that is true, but Argentina is becoming now part of the USA. Argentinians sold to the Yankees all what they got, like the Southern part of Argentina, a clean and fertile territory. So, all what Fidel fought for, we lost ! With this money we just became one of the colonial parts of America, and they develop and spread all over world…
    • EK : How did you meet Fidel Castro?
  • DM : In 1987, I received 2 awards. One in Cuba, another in America. I said to the Americans „Keep that award“, and I went to Cuba. I met Fidel, and we spoke five hours about Che Guvera, Argentina. Of course, I read as a young man about the revolution, brave Che, Fidel…I felt in love with Fidel ! In my perception, he is like a lion fighting for his territory. He is the only politician, if we can call him like that, who isn't focussed on stealing from the poors. That's what Americans try to do….

Translation : Nina Novaković and Matthieu Dhennin

en/itv_06-01_politika.txt · Last modified: 2008/02/17 15:47 by matthieu1