Maria Guardado, ¡Presente!


CISPES honors the life of compañera Maria Guardado, who passed away on May 16, 2015.  

Maria was a Salvadoran refugee who became an integral part of many popular struggles in Los Angeles, California, where she eventually re-settled after fleeing El Salvador in 1980, having barely survived torture at the hands of US-trained paramilitaries. We wanted to share a few reflections to honor her life and legacy.

From Sha Grogan-Brown, CISPES Board of Directors: "María Guardado was one of the most committed revolutionary women I've ever met. She always lifted up her voice to not only tell her story as a torture survivor from El Salvador but also to defend and support whatever struggle of whatever peoples that needed solidarity. I remember her bravery and passion confronting the police during protests (many times along with our beloved Don White) and her spirit with which she supported so many struggles. María has inspired me since I met her when I was 23 years old in the streets of Los Angeles. Thank you María for being an example for all of us to follow."

From Alexis Stoumbelis, CISPES Co-Director: "Though I never had the chance to meet Maria in person, I will always remember the first time I saw her on screen, which was during this moving video tribute to Don White, one of CISPES’ founders and a long-time movement leader in Los Angeles (Check them out in action together at minute 11:37, challenging the police outside the LA Federal Building). I was struck by her courage, her tenacity and her willingness to tap into what she had survived in order to speak truth to power – again and again and again."

From Arturo Viscarra, Advocacy Coordinator, School of the Americas Watch: “It’s difficult to put a label on Maria (Activist? Poet? Torture survivor? Refugee? Revolutionary?), for she surpassed those labels and lived such a long life full of righteous struggle in two vastly different countries, but whose interconnectedness she came to symbolize. Maria not only knew that the worldwide struggle against imperialism would continue, but she expressed and acted against this fact on a daily basis until her dying days.” Read more of Arturo's powerful here obituary. To honor courageous leaders like Maria, we re-commit ourselves to the daily struggle for justice, self-determination and peace with dignity for all people. 

¡María Guardado, Presente! To share your own memories and tributes, please email [email protected]

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