Jesús Sanoja Hernández, el periodismo como estirpe / Ramón Hernández

Jesús Sanoja Hernández, Journalism as a Lineage

The streets of the center of Caracas and a few corners in La Candelaria are going to miss him with his impeccable guayabera shirt and his brown leather briefcase, which has survived a thousand battles and is covered with scratches. That’s where he kept his Caribe brand notebook, with the drawing of the Indian chief printed on faded blue, the edges worn from use and his notes with handwriting like that of an undisciplined boy, attentive to dates, names and words in their exact meaning and sense; as well as a half-written book of poems. Jesús Sanoja Hernández, the one with the prodigious memory, abandoned journalism. Death, that inveterate and punctual editor, ambushed him and didn’t let him finish another page.

Amid the tasks of poet, journalist, historian, teacher and conversationalist he wove a quotidianness that tied him to the country and to Caracas, the city he adopted as his own. Without fearing the setbacks of the political struggle nor the mistakes, he made many friends and he wrote about everything human that sparked his curiosity; nor did he draw back from the limits of the divine, if he found a witness, a fact or a date that gave him a clue.

He was born in Tumerero, at the entrance to El Dorado, in the state of Bolívar, on June 27, 1930. He went to elementary school there and came to the capital for high school. The journey lasted eight days, and he made it in six stages he never forgot. Once high school was over, he began studies in Economy at the Universidad Central de Venezuela, but prisons and exile interrupted that vocation. In 1946 he published his first article in Válvula, and from that point onwards he was never able to pull himself away from the outlet of journalism, sometimes as part of his political obligations, other times as a means of living and always because of his noble historian’s zeal for the quotidian.

In 1963 he graduated from the Escuela de Letras, but he already had a more valued and permanent title, the book La mágica enfermedad, which earned him the prize at the Valencia Poetry Biennial. He never stopped writing verses, but he didn’t summon a press conference when he finished one and he was always reluctant to publish them; it was a task for his inner being. Humble and attentive to details, he handled each chapter of contemporary events like a surgeon and he shared it: during afternoons of thirst, with beer; Saturdays with a scotch.

Imbued in the world of the academy, in literature and in political quarrels, journalism was his tool for combat, and he had to disguise his writings with other names in order to elude police persecution and censorship: “Edgar Hamilton,” “Marcos Garbán,” “Martín Garbán,” “Juan Francisco Leiva,” “Eduardo Montes,” “Manuel Rojas Poleo,” or “Pablo Azuaje.”

His work as a researcher and historian is dispersed in books, newspapers, magazines and anthologies, but his conversations and teachings are already a part of the hallways of newspaper offices and the rugged paths of newspaper archives, where his presence, tied to his Caribe notebook, demonstrated every day that journalism is made of work and passion, but without forgetting the poet one carries inside.

{ Ramón Hernández, El Nacional, 9 June 2007 }

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