It’s a double -edged ritual: “How are you?” Pas Simal ”that has punctuated our meetings for ten years or more in collaboration. The exchange will no longer take place. Victor Simal left on May 17 quietly at nearly 77 years old. He, in turn, an agricultural worker, journalist and cameraman on the M6 among others, cooks, then is a columnist at La Semaine du Roussillon, without deviating from his libertarian furrow. Even the tortures he endured under Francoist prisons in 1978 could not divert him from his line. This eternal rebel is also one and above all a lover of life, of the people, of Catalonia, of small moments of happiness and of the cuisine he has as his passion. His superb generosity will benefit his restaurant that opened in Collioure in 1997, “I overpaid my employees and I put too much on the plates” he jokes. Victor Simal wrote for more than ten years, before he was stricken with illness, culinary chronicles for our weekly. More than them, it is his humanity, his kindness, his often justifiable extreme revolt and his timeless wit that we will now surely miss. In addition, anar seed.
To his friends and family, La Semaine is sympathetic.
La Semaine du Roussillon dedicated a beautiful photo of her in January 2010, by Fanny Linarès. Here he is, to remember the journey of a man who is unusual.
As a hedonistic retiree, he shared with us his “Victor’s recipes” at La Semaine du Roussillon. But behind the gourmet hides a former anti-Franco activist, “smuggler” of exiles, who has experienced the joys of Spanish prisons. In another life, Victor Simal traveled five continents, holding a camera, for the M6. The assembly, as it should be, in front of a dish. [F.L.]
Tastebuds on guard, fork in hand, Victor launched. Between bites, he opens the fiber of his personal story. In the kitchen as in life, “Mister Recipes” of the Week has a deep tenderness for Catalonia, this border country where his parents were seen exiled in 1939 … And buried his sister. An unknown eldest, who died in the cold and discomfort of the Argelès sur mer concentration camp. Victor will always return to this northern Catalonia that has been a hallmark of his family’s history. But it was in the 1970s that he lived there for the first time, after a childhood in Normandy, a first job as a photographer, then as a Parisian taxi driver. Here, in this small part of the territory where the native language is spoken, the young man discovers the signs.
“I have a political conscience, I know where the opponent is”
Very quickly, he contacted local anarchists. In this post-sixty-eight period, Victor was definitely chin, “but not chin-cool, chin-hard,” he joked. “I have a political conscience, I know where the opponent is”. Together with fellow anti-nuclear activists, he created the Catalan Ecological Movement. He fought for the uranium mining project near Ille-sur-Têt. But also and above all, he was part of a network of “smugglers”, helping the Spaniards flee Francoism. “We tried to regularize the paperwork, work, money,” he explains. Since the end of the 1970s, contrary to forgetful history, “Franco is dead, but not Francoism”. The young libertarian made his painful experience in 1978. One day, he received a phone call. “A group of friends from Barcelona fell”. Victor had to join another activist in the depths of Vallespir, in order to pass on a group. They crossed the border and came to the meeting place, a Spanish farmhouse. There, the guardia civil, armed, awaits them. The two young Frenchmen boarded and were also detained in Barcelona. “It was the Model prison, what a model,” he quips.
Torture and attempted escape
There, Victor endured five days of torture. We put a bag over his head and squeezed until he lost consciousness. He was handcuffed in the back and kicked. He was suspended from the ceiling by handcuffs, leaving him to touch only the ground by tiptoe. They do not give him anything to eat or drink. But Victor doesn’t give up any names. “And I would never blame anyone for speaking out under torture,” he hurriedly added. Nine months of incarceration followed. As demonstrations and concerts took place across Europe, in support of the dozens of imprisoned activists of which he was a part, Victor discovered the prison universe under Franco. Contrary to stereotypes, internally, a great unity was fixed. “There is COPEL, a very strong union of prisoners. We built a solidarity cell, we welcomed those who came. There was a deposit system for small mourners with no money, one gave them basic products. During these nine months, Victor conducts three hunger strikes of thirty days each, … and an attempt to escape! A tunnel, dug by other prisoners should offer freedom to all, through the sewers. But on D-Day, “we passed the heavy penalties first. 40 men escaped. But they did not wait for us and left. We should be the next ten. Finally, it was at the end of November, in the midst of a hunger strike, that the French were liberated. Victor ignored his house arrest in Spain pending trial, and hurried back to France. She was happy to see her two children there. The reality of having to “leave others on a metal sheet, while you’re out”, wasn’t much unbearable for him.
“In the morning, you’re with the homeless, and in the evening at a cocktail party with Mitterrand”
His great desire, journalism, Victor comes there by chance … By “miracle” he says. While he was making things out of wood, picking and reaping, one night, a friend introduced him to a cameraman. All night, he hears about this profession with passion. Victor was enthusiastic, and went to follow a training course in Montpellier. Back in the POs, he set up an association, “Video Action”. He in turn trains, makes reports. Then, in 1984, went to Paris to start a great adventure… Those in the “small rising chain”. The M6 was created just six months ago, and it’s recruiting with a vengeance. Everything then has to be done. Victor participates enthusiastically in this vivacity of beginnings. He travels all over France. He shoots a lot of current affairs for “Six Minutes”, launches longer reports for Zone Interdite, works for cinema shows, E = M6, … and travels to five continents. His worst memories? Rwanda. Within a month, he was moving to this country in the midst of tragedy and Zaire. Together with a colleague, he made a report entitled “Kibumba, the death camp”. “Five kilometers from the camp, you know … Because of the smell. Corpses are bulldozed. “On a daily basis, Victor lives intensively with his reports.” It’s a job you can only do with desire. If not, go somewhere else. In the morning, you are with the homeless under Beaubourg, and in the evening at a cocktail party with Mitterrand. I think, only in this profession can you go through such a society ”. All these years, Victor has made it a point of honor not to mix his political ideas with his profession. In the M6, only one person, a friend, knows about his sulfur past. But one day, in 1989, he was sent with a report to Spain. This is a question of filming with the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela. However, Victor did not appear at his trial, he was still wanted. The icing on the cake, while boarding the plane, he learned that Papa should go there. He knew there were police to be posted on every street corner.
Caught in his past
Upon his arrival at the customs of the Spaniards, Victor pulled to his feet. In control, he pretended that his papers were in his luggage. Asking him to return them… Which he was careful not to do. That same night, six policemen armed to the teeth knocked on the door of his hotel room. Back in prison, in Madrid this time. Apparently, we are at the end of August, in the middle of a judiciary vacation. At the beginning of September, we end up appointing a prosecutor … Killed shortly after the ETA. Finally, in mid -October, he was released on bail and placed under house arrest in Madrid. For a month, he worked at TV3. Then will come his judgment; he was acquitted. Back in France, M6 did him the favor of bringing him back to the team. In 1997, a new escapade, this one was less sulfur. Victor devotes himself to his other passion, cooking, by opening a restaurant in Collioure. A new life that, after seven months, ends in bankruptcy. “I paid my employees too much and I put too much on the plates,” he joked. Again, the M6 took it. But in the early 2000s, Victor ended up throwing in the towel and leaving his life in Paris again. “I wanted to come back here and I never found myself in chains. It’s becoming a normal channel. ” After a while, he started the Perpignan Info experience, “if you can call that working. It’s not my best audiovisual experience!” He said. After a while, TV in the city of Perpignan became almost impossible to accept. The chain’s journalists, trying to carry out an information task, are disruptive.The computers, cameras, telephones are removed from them.Even the channel name changes.Perpignan Info becomes Perpignan TV.The adventure ends.The adventure ends in a toxic environment.At the age of 65, Victor has retired from journalism and political activism.He now dedicates himself to his loved ones and to his seasonal products.However, one who has not yet entered anywhere knows who he is.Libertarian.And free.
Victor Simal, in short
His struggle: anti-Franco
His hardest report: Rwanda
His first steps into the media: a pirate radio, with friends
His favorite film: “Le camp d’Argelès” by Felip Solé, in which he participated. “Three weeks of work with tears in my eyes, on the beach where my sister died”
His book: “The Stranger” by Camus
His song: “Las barricadas” by Serge Utgé-Royos
His dish: the Fideuà, if he only needs to mention …
Her place: Collioure, “it’s fabulous, rain or shine”