BUENOS AIRES – Argentina declared Thursday a day of national mourning in honor of the late cartoonist Joaquin Salvador Lavado, known as Quino, as the public and various personalities paid tribute to the creator of the iconic Mafalda cartoon character and comic.
The government led by Alberto Fernandez declared the mourning period in a decree published in the Official Gazette, which said that the national flag will remain at half-mast in all public buildings, and emphasized that the ”cultural legacy” Quino leaves behind – after his death on Wednesday at age 88 – is marked by “respect for life, human rights and peace.”
The same decree added that the Ministry of Culture “will express to the family of the deceased the condolences of the national government.”
“Joaquin Salvador Lavado Tejon, born in Mendoza in 1932, better known as ‘Quino,’ is a figure with an outstanding career in our country and in the world for his social, humanist and cultural work, and that throughout the years he worked as a strip cartoonist, screenwriter, illustrator and graphic humorist, becoming an integral artist,” the decree highlighted.
The front pages of all the national newspapers on Thursday mourned the loss of the cartoonist.
In addition, many of his colleagues paid tribute to him with their drawings, as did the illustrator Miguel Rep, who published a vignette on his Twitter profile for his “second dad.”
“We sensed it. The real Little Prince was Quino,” said his message accompanied by a drawing in which Mendoza is pulled through the sky by a flock of birds, in the style of the famous character of Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
The Argentinian tribute crossed borders and was joined by illustrators of other countries, such as Venezuelan Fernando Pinilla, who created a cartoon in which Quino says goodbye to his most popular character, the irreverent Mafalda, with a “Don’t cry, my girl – it’s just a see you later!”
Chilean Natalia Gutierrez, aka Nagu, also recreated a farewell between the creator and his character, in which Quino tells her: “I’m leaving, will you stay?” and Mafalda replies: “Yes, I’ll stay here.”
Since Quino’s death, many of his followers have paid their respects in his native Mendoza, and in places close to the cartoonist, such as the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where he lived for much of his life. Flowers were placed next to the Mafalda statue, which since its inauguration in 2009 is one of the city’s favorite places for tourists.
The official farewell, which will be held by his family, will be intimate due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and his remains will be cremated in the city where he was born.
Quino was one of the few Argentinians equally appreciated by all sectors of society, crossing ideologies and other conditions, as expressed by personalities from across the political spectrum, from President Fernandez to former president and now opponent Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).
Fernandez highlighted through Twitter the commitment of “one of the greatest artists in the history of our country.”
“Quino, one of the greatest artists in the history of our country, left us. He made us laugh, made us think and always called us to reflect on Argentina, to which he was committed like few others. Goodbye, teacher,” he wrote.
On the same social network, Macri expressed “with great sadness” his condolences to the family and friends of the cartoonist.
“With great sadness I say goodbye to Quino, the Mendoza genius of drawing who impacted so many generations with his art and his depth to interpret things. My condolences to his family and friends,” he posted.
Current vice president and ex-president, Cristina Fernandez (2007-2015), paid him a personal tribute on her social networks with a video of the opening ceremony of the Julio Le Parc Cultural Center in Mendoza in 2012, in which the cartoonist wished her luck in governing. “Goodbye teacher,” she wrote.
Beyond the public figures, social media users around the world echoed on Wednesday the death and expressed condolences and admiration in equal parts for an artist whose work was translated into more than 30 languages. The world that worried Quino so much now mourns the artist’s departure.