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Ana Margarita Gasteazoro

Ana Margarita Gasteazoro (1950–1993) was a revolutionary from El Sal­va­dor who was born into a bourgeois family, but became a “class traitor” in order to fight for justice for the impoverished masses. She was radicalised almost “by accident”; she’d been a rebellious teenager, for which her parents sent her to study with the Maryknoll sisters, which unbeknowst to them was a site for teaching liberation theology.

After years spent living abroad, in the USA, Europe and Jamaica, Gast­e­a­zoro returned to El Salvador and started venturing into leftist politics, joining the MNR (a less-radical socialist party). In 1978 she attended a congress in Havana, which enabled her to overcome her “bourgeois” reservations about mass movements. An armed party called the FMLN was formed as an umbrella for other parties, including the MNR; Gasteazoro joined its “diplomatic” wing, the FDR, as a representative of the MNR. However, Gasteazoro was also convinced of the need to join the armed resistance herself, so she secretly joined the PLF, a more militant wing of the FMLN, through which she got basic weapons training. For a while she led a “double life” as a member of both wings. She did not personally engage in combat, though, instead being charged with logistics and propaganda work, including setting up the Radio Farabundo Martí and producing a documentary, El Salvador: El Pueblo Vencerá.

But this movement was heavily repressed by the Salvadoran regime. In 1980 the leadership of the FDR was arrested, tortured and murdered; Gasteazoro herself was required to identify the corpse of one of her comrades. One year later, Gasteazoro was “disappeared” and tortured by the Salvadoran regime herself. Most who were “disappeared” by the regime were never seen again, but her wealthy family searched and were able to recover her after 11 days of torture. Gasteazoro was forced to do a press conference after this, where she said she “regained composure” after the torture had successfully “broken” her.

She was imprisoned at Ilopango, where she threw herself into politically organising her fellow prisoners. They organised around prison conditions out in the open, and clandestinely engaged in political education to radicalise fellow prisoners against capitalism. She was released after two years in prison as part of an amnesty in 1983. She travelled to Mexico, and from there went into exile in Costa Rica.

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