Gladys Marín

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Gladys Marín
Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Chile
In office
12 July 1994 – 11 August 2002
President of the Communist Party of Chile
In office
11 August 2002 – 6 March 2005
Personal details
Born(1938-07-16)16 July 1938
Curepto, Chile
Died6 March 2005(2005-03-06) (aged 63)
Santiago, Chile
SpouseJorge Muñoz Poutays
ChildrenRodrigo Muñoz Marín, Álvaro Muñoz Marín

Gladys del Carmen Marín Millie (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈɡlaðis maˈɾin]; July 16, 1941 – March 6, 2005) was a Chilean activist and political figure. She was Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) (1994–2002) and then president of the PCCh until her death. She was a staunch opponent of General Augusto Pinochet and filed the first lawsuit against him, in which she accused him of committing human rights violations during his seventeen-year dictatorship. Gladys Marín was the youngest person ever elected to the Chilean Congress, the first woman to run for the country's presidency and the only female leader of a Chilean political party.[1]

Early life[edit]

Marín was born in Curepto, in the Maule region to Heraclio Marín, a farmer, and school teacher Adriana Millie, later moving with her family to Sarmiento, and then to Talagante. At the age of eleven she settled in Santiago. While in High School in Chile she began participating in organizations that aid the poor, specifically while apart of the Juventud Obrera Católica (Young Catholic Workers).[1] In 1957, she received her teacher's diploma and joined the staff of School No 130 for students with intellectual disabilities inside the capital's main mental hospital. Soon after, at seventeen years old, she joined the Juventudes Comunistas (Communist Youth) and quickly began a leader of the organization. During her time at the Communist Youth, she helped work on Socialist President Salvador Allende's presidential campaign and met her husband Jorge Muñoz Poutays. At the age of twenty-three she won a seat in the lower house of the Chilean Congress where she served nine years.[1]

Political activism[edit]

Marín joined the Communist party while studying at pedagogy faculty in Santiago. She was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1965, and again in 1970, representing a working-class district of Santiago.

Following the 1973 coup d'état, Marín first went underground. Augusto Pinochet's military coup on September 11, abolished party politics within Chile. She went into hiding and was named one of the regimes 100 most wanted persons.[2] In November, 1973, she obtained asylum in the Dutch embassy, which would be the last place she would see her husband. She obtained asylum at the PCCh's insistence and remained there for eight months before being allowed to leave the country to East Germany. Marín travelled widely, specifically in Argentina. In September 1974, she traveled to Buenos Aires to warn Pinochet's predecessor as army commander-in-chief, who was living in exile, that Pinochet was planning his assassination.[2] Sadly, four days later, he and his wide were killed when Pinochet planned for their car to explode.

Her husband Jorge Muñoz disappeared in 1976 while Marín was out of the country, traveling in Costa Rica. Today, he is presumed dead but his corpse was never found. Under Chilean law, Pinochet stands charged with his kidnapping.[2] She returned to Chile, clandestinely, in 1978 and fought from the underground for the return of democracy.[3] She was in Moscow before returning secretly to Chile. Before returning to Chile, they wanted to have her teeth removed and replaced, as she states "I'm lucky to have kept my teeth because they wanted to change them for me."[4] She passed herself off as a Spanish women, using a Spanish accent and dressed in Spanish clothing. She filled her mouth with pads to alter her facial expressions and rounded her bust and hips. In disguise, she passed police examination on the bus across the Andes from Argentina.[2]

Once in Chile, she continued to secretly promote the Communist Party and was elected its under-secretary in 1984. In 1997, Marín ran for a seat in the Senate and obtained the eighth largest national majority, but was not elected due to the nature of the Chilean electoral system, which favours the two dominant parties or coalitions. She ran for president in 1999 and achieved less than four percent of the vote, mainly due to fear from leftist voters that the right-wing candidate Joaquín Lavín could defeat Socialist Ricardo Lagos.[citation needed]

On January 12, 1998, Marín filed a complaint — the first person in Chile to do so — against Augusto Pinochet, accusing him of genocide, kidnapping, illicit association and illegal inhumation. At the time, Pinochet was still the commander of the Armed Forces and would soon become a lifetime senator.[2] Marín's complaint led to hundreds of families to come forward and accuse Pinochet and his allies in court.

In August 2000, Marín attended the Third Al Mathaba Conference, held by the Al-Mathaba World Anti-Imperialist Centre, a centre in Libya established by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for supporting anti-imperialist and leftist revolutionaries worldwide, as the representative of the PCCh, whose erstwhile anti-Pinochet armed wing, the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front, had received support from Libya and its leader.

Personal life and death[edit]

Marín married Jorge Muñoz Poutays in 1963, with whom she had two children. Due to Jorge's and Gladys's political affiliation during the Coup, their children did not have a traditional upbringing. A family friend of raised their two sons, Rodrigo and Alvaro. Even once Gladys returned to Chile, her sons were not told in order to protect Marín's security.[5] In 1987, her two sons demanded to see their mother immediately or never again. Despite the dangers, they met in Argentina for a two-week reunion.[5] Marín died of brain cancer after a long battle which included treatment in Cuba and Sweden. Upon her death the government declared two days of national mourning. In accordance with her wishes, her coffin was exhibited at the former National Congress in Santiago and was viewed by thousands of mourners prior to its cremation. Half a million Chileans came to pay their respects to Marín.[5] For her funeral the PCCh and her family organized a march through the center of Santiago, with estimates in the press ranging from "tens of thousands of marchers" to "over 200,000 people" to "almost one million people".[6][7] An avenue crossing a working class district of Santiago was later renamed after her.

Books and speeches[edit]

In 1999, Marín wrote Regreso a la esperanza: Derrota de la Operación Condor, which is a set of texts that combine the denouncement of the Pinochet repression, personal testimony and reviews of the objectives that move the PC. In 2002, she wrote La vida es hoy and was a contributor to 1000 Days of Revolution: Chilean Communists on the Lessons of Popular Unity 1970-73 by Kenny Coyle.[8] Some of her most famous speeches are Entrevista el siglo, La llamaba cabra de monte, and La vida es un minuto.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Letter from Chile: Hasta Siempre Gladys". NACLA. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Gladys Marín". The Independent. 8 March 2005. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  3. ^ Lopez, Juan (22 April 2005). "With Gladys, We'll win a thousand times". People's World. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  4. ^ Marín, Gladys (2002). La Vida Es Hoy.
  5. ^ a b c Lopez, Juan (22 April 2005). "With Gladys, We'll win a thousand times". People's World. Retrieved 3 December 2023.
  6. ^ "Chile Honors Women, One In Particular (". Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  7. ^ "Chile: A mass farewell to Gladys Marin, President of the Chilean Communist Party |". 15 March 2014. Archived from the original on 15 March 2014. Retrieved 6 December 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Entrevistas – Gladys Marín" (in Spanish). 19 June 2020. Retrieved 3 December 2023.

External links[edit]

Media related to Gladys Marín at Wikimedia Commons