Panama Today went to Aguadulce, in the province of Coclé, 140 km from Panama City, to interview cartoonist Hilde Sucre and learn a little more about what he portrays through his art, through his graphic opinion. He acknowledges that his job is a risk because it directly confronts the powerful class, "we mess with presidents, deputies, mayors. These people are not used to criticism or mockery. They get angry, of course they get angry. There have been cartoons that have led to complaints to the newspaper; the truth is that several officials and politicians have complained. I've been threatened on twitter several times, but those are things about work. If a cartoon is not controversial then it did not work, it did not have its purpose. I like it when they get angry."
The cartoonist of "Mi Diario" began in 2006, then worked for "Panama America". Three presidents of the Republic of Panama have been the object of his criticisms: Martin Torrijos, Ricardo Martinelli and Juan Carlos Varela. "Of the three, Martinelli was the one who best bore his criticism. Torrijos got upset with several cartoons I created about him. Varela told me he is also sensitive. Sometimes one can cross the line. I know when I've crossed the line with a cartoon. One as a cartoonist has a certain line that you can cross and if you cross that line it can be an offensive cartoon. I have crossed the line several times, so at a certain point I give him the reason for being offended or bothered by the cartoon. I don’t lose any sleep over it. I rather sleep better."
Sucre also makes cartoons for the television channel TVN's Radar program; to produce his work he spends time reading the news and checking social networks, but he believes that the political leaders make his work easy, "our politicians are a gold mine. They virtually cartoon themselves. Imagine a Chello Gálvez, a Franz Wever, a Benicio Robinson. They are guys who talk and say every nonsense that they cartoon themselves. Martinelli gave an interview and we had material for a month of cartoons; it was crazy."
The creator of the web portal www.elbochinchoso.com says that his criticisms of the government are made through his cartoons but he makes it clear that he did not meet expectations, "I expected some change and I think it was more of the same . We continue with the same cases of corruption, the Assembly (Legislative Body) doing what they want, the expensive food, we do not have water, in my house water is shut off every day (in Aguadulce, province of Coclé)".
He says that the role of the political leadership creates an environment that undermines democratic stability "When the people is losing hope in this group of leaders, they will seek another alternative and the problem is that it can lead to an Hugo Chávez."
Sucre made a call to Panamanians ahead of the 2019 General Elections: "The voter is the one who must change the mentality. The politician will always be a politician. He will always try to buy you, he will try to bribe you. He's going to offer you something, he's going to lie to you. We are the ones that have to change. People must have dignity. If a politician comes to change the vote for four bags of cement, please, keep your dignity, tell him to offer you a system where you can work and fend for yourself, that's what people should ask, do not ask for ham, or ask for houses."
On the issue of China, he said he hoped it would be favorable for the Panamanian economy.
Panama Today also asked about his opinion on the Martinelli case and he said: “It is a complicated issue. Sometimes people tell me that I am pro-Varela because I confront Martinelli and then when I make a cartoon about Varela, I am applauded by those who insulted me. All I ask is that justice be done. That is what everyone wants, that justice be done. If he is guilty he must pay and if he is innocent he must be released. The only thing that is asked for is justice with all the cases."
Sucre is working on the second edition of a book that collects his best cartoons since he began his career in 2006.