Farewell to a historical figure of “Liberation”
A laugh, a slender, straight silhouette, a quick step, and those off-the-cuff conversations she had the secret to, about everything, about nothing, but never for nothing, about the news of the day or about the thousand projects she was keeping in mind: it is with amazement and immense sorrow that we learned on Monday of the death of Béatrice Vallaeys, historical figure of “Liberation”. We had the good fortune and the pleasure of working alongside her for many years, of fighting with her to make “Liberation” the newspaper of all the audacity and the celebration of all the defining moments in history. “Liberation”, for those who have been there, for those who work there today, is a large journalistic family, and Béatrice was a godmother of choice. We know what this newspaper owes it, we know what we owe it. On behalf of the entire editorial staff of “Liberation”, the management joins in the pain of his family and friends.
As there are cities of light, Béatrice was a woman of light. His smile enlightened his interlocutors, his laughter made them laugh: they in turn became luminous.
Who can say the pleasure – the pleasure – that there was in working for nearly two decades with a woman who preferred to laugh at existence rather than complain about it, who knew her job perfectly but affected not to take it seriously ? Everyone who knew her, Release which was his life, will remember that laughter and that light enhanced by his blondness, that joy which was not of command, which was his habitual mood, so to speak his philosophy, even in the midst of the trials which did not affect him. hardly spared. Béatrice Vallaeys left us one day of heat wave, ultimate touch of black humor, in the greatest climatic heat for her who embodied the greatest human warmth.
She was talkative, some would say. Yes, but she was saying some interesting things. On journalism, on Release, on justice, his column for many years, on his son, Félix, his treasure, on François, his companion, his friend and his love, on feminism, his first fight, on leftism, his passion of youth, on fashion and politics, on the culture of which she had directed the service to the newspaper, on Belgium, her first homeland, on the Congo of her childhood cut off by exile, she was funny, intelligent, inexhaustible. These words that jostled in tight rows were never either hollow or gratuitous. They talked about life, hers, which she gladly recounted, and those of others, which mattered more to her.
sense of brotherhood
Béatrice had strong convictions but she could also make fun of them, with a politeness of commitment that tends to get lost. Born in the Belgian Congo, having become an anti-colonialist, she sometimes confessed, with a touch of provocation, her nostalgia for the colonial life which was that of her childhood, while recommending the reading of the river book by David Van Reybrouck which hid nothing of the horrors of the order established by King Leopold. From Belgium, she had cultivated humor and a sense of brotherhood. She always quoted this sentence from the beginning of the Gallic Wars from Caesar: “Of all the peoples of Gaul, the Belgians are the most courageous.” A legacy, in short.
Like all this generation 68, she had, in a way, wanted to compensate for the faults of the previous generation by choosing revolutionary militancy, whose intolerant shortcomings she gladly mocked, afterwards. With Gilles Millet, Claude Maggiori and a few others, she formed the “Melun’s band”, nickname given to the group of the Gauche prolétarienne (GP) which dreamed of the big night in this calm prefecture.
In 1973, perceiving what was in their eyes the impasse of the violent revolution, the militants of the GP had turned to journalism, preferring to make, around Serge July, a very real daily rather than a chimerical guerrilla. Tall and blond, with an angelic face and devilish miniskirts, she looked like she had come out of a fashion magazine to help make the people’s newspaper.
In a macho society, the revolutionaries had hardly been touched by the feminist revolution. Women in leftist circles had to fight like elsewhere. Béatrice therefore had to fight to win her place, revealing a character where courage often had to replace benevolence. So the abundance of words served him to tell their facts to leaders convinced of masculine superiority. Demanding, devoted to her journal above all else, she passed nothing on to those whom she judged to be in error of ethics or in militant facility, and the editorial boards had to undergo Homeric squabbles. She first took charge of the Justice section, at a time when civil liberties and the rights of defense were under close surveillance, forging friendly ties with Robert Badinter, Henri Leclerc and Louis Joinet, whose fights she supported for a fairer judiciary, more humane prisons and more civilized punishments.
Rigorous and funny know-how
She was a woman: she was therefore assigned by the same leaders to cover the prostitutes’ movement with whom she established a trusting relationship made up of humor and empathy. Then, after 1981, the year of the refoundation of Liberated, together we directed the Society department, a turbulent and eccentric group, within a newspaper which was already fairly eccentric, with its share of former terrorists, neo-junkies and future writers. Béatrice wrote well but little: she had understood the crucial role in a newspaper of those who do not sign articles but highlight those of others, meticulous proofreader, intractable organizer on the delivery of copies, conductor who watched to the rhythm of the pages and the tempo of the models. She then directed the Culture pages, then the Ideas pages, with the same rigorous and playful know-how. Her main source of pride remained the weekend magazine that she had given birth to alone and directed as she pleased, bringing her share of dreams, creativity and humor to a news story too often drawn towards disaster. She was a gracious pillar of the newspaper, of which she embodied the memory and the spirit, made of commitment and irony, of seriousness in substance and lightness in form, of this stubborn will, in the words of Sartre, of “thinking against yourself”.
She had then taken the field, dedicated to her personal projects, books and films, which she led with the same joyful application, while fighting with bursts of laughter an equally obstinate cancer, which had ended up receding. before his courage. Time, as always, got the better of this will to live. But the friendship remains, which she cultivated like a rare plant. Which allows me to say, as a reason for pride and pain because of the imperfect verb: I was the friend of Béatrice Vallaeys.