Last on the world working class

Peter McLaren mclaren at
Sun Aug 10 22:24:09 MDT 2003

I would hate to see you off this list, comrade. Your comments have always
been valuable...



Richard asked: 

p.s. who is Roque Dalton?


Roque Dalton 

Roque Dalton was born on May 14, 1935, in San Salvador, El Salvador. His
father was one of the members of the outlaw Dalton brothers and his mother
was a registered nurse whose salary supported the family. After a year at
the University of Santiago, Chile, Roque Dalton attended the University of
San Salvador in 1956, where he helped found the University Literary Circle
just before the Salvadoran military set fire to the building. The following
year he joined the Communist Party; he was arrested in 1959 and 1960 for
inciting students and peasants to revolt against the landowners. Dalton was
sentenced to be executed, but his life was saved the day before his sentence
was to be carried out, when the dictatorship of Colonel José María Lemus was
overthrown. He spent 1961 in Mexican exile, writing many of the poems that
were published in La Ventana en el rostro ("The Window in My Face," 1961)
and El turno del ofendido ("The Injured Party's Turn," 1962). He dedicated
the latter book to the Salvadoran police chief who had filed the charges
against him.

>From Mexico, Dalton naturally gravitated to Cuba, where he was well received
by the Cuban and Latin American exiled writers who gathered in the Casa de
las Américas. From that point on, starting with La Ventana en el rostro and
El Mar ("The Sea") in 1962, almost all of his poetic work was published in
Cuba. In the summer of 1965, he returned to El Salvador to continue his
political work. Two months after his arrival, he was arrested, tortured, and
again sentenced to execution. However, he managed to escape death once more
when an earthquake shattered the outer wall of his cell, enabling him to dig
his way out through the rubble.

He returned to Cuba and a few months later the Communist Party sent him to
Prague as a correspondent for The International Review: Problems of Peace
and Socialism. His book Taberna y ostros lugares ("Tavern and Other
Places"), reflecting his long stay in Prague, won the Casa de las Américas
poetry prize in 1969 and established Roque Dalton, at the age of
thirty-four, as one of the best young poets in Latin America. In 1975, a
military faction of the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP), unjustly
accused him of trying to divide their organization and condemned him to
death. They executed him on May 10, 1975, four days before his fortieth

This bio was last updated on Jun 12, 2001.

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