Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Barbara Barbieri McGrath (1953–) Biography - Personal to Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930) Biography » Miguel Mármol: 1905-1993: Union Activist Biography - Raised In Poverty, Learned Shoemaking And Politics, Joined The Workers' Movement, Survived His Execution

Miguel Mármol: 1905-1993: Union Activist - Raised In Poverty

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Mármol was born on July 4, 1905, in the San Salvador suburb of Ilopango. His grandmother, a native Indian, had evicted her unmarried daughter, Santos Mármol, at the first sign of her pregnancy. Mármol's mother refused to reveal his father's identity and he was left in the care of his half-sisters while Santos Mármol carried bales of tobacco on her back to San Salvador, ten miles away, twice a day. The family lived in a mud shack, surviving on donated corn. When Santos Mármol was able to work as a cook or servant in San Salvador, the family ate well; however she often was unemployed, so the children fished and stole food from farms to eat. Mármol's sisters left school to collect boxes and rags from garbage cans to sell to cardboard factories and wash-erwomen.

Mármol eventually learned that his father was Eugenio Chicas, a successful farmer. Chicas was also the mayor of Ilopango. In addition to his legitimate daughters, Chicas had fathered so many children that, as a young man, Mármol discovered that a woman he was considering for marriage was his half-sister.

Mármol enjoyed school, attended his grandmother's catechism classes, and became an excellent swimmer. However at age eleven, just as he was starting the fourth grade, he quit school to work as a fisherman's apprentice. Mármol also cleaned the local National Guard barracks. Soon he became official assistant to the commander of the National Guard. He exercised with the guardsmen and dreamed of a military career. When he became a soldier at age 13, Mármol's first mission was to help quell a civilian and army uprising against the hated Salvadoran dictatorship. After witnessing the vicious torture of prisoners, Mármol requested an immediate discharge. That night—the first time in months that he had not slept in the barracks—the earthquake of 1918 collapsed the buildings, killing all of the guardsmen and officers. It was the first of Mármol's many escapes.

At a Glance . . .

Born on July 4, 1905, in Ilopango, El Salvador; died on June 25, 1993, in San Salvador; son of Santos Mármol and Eugenio Chicas; married Carmen-cita Mármol; children: Hildilita, Hilda Alicia (Angelita), Oscar (deceased), Francisquito (deceased), Antonita (deceased), María Elena, Berta Lilliam, Miguelito, another son. Politics: Communist. Military Service: Salvadoran National Guard, 1918.

Career: Fisherman, 1916-18; shoemaker, late 1910s-44; political and trade union activist, 1921-93; Claridad School, Guatemala, teacher and writer, mid-1940s; Trade Union of Guatemalan Shoemakers, organizational secretary and publisher of The Unionist, mid-1940s; bread baker, early 1960s; National University of El Salvador, lecturer, late 1970s-80.

Memberships: Constitutional Party, local secretary, 1921; Regional Federation of Workers of El Salvador, 1920s; Salvadoran Communist Party, 1930s-93; Young Communist League, secretary, 1930; National Alliance of Shoemakers, president, 1940s; National Workers' Union, 1944; Guatemalan Workers' Party, 1940s; General Federation of Guatemalan Workers, 1940s; Political Bureau of the CP Central Committee, 1950s; National Peasant Commission, general secretary, 1960s; Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, 1980s-93.

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