A message from Chile: Our Gladys Marn  one of the essential ones

In the wee hours of this cloudy day, March 6, 2005, a woman passed away who was one of the “essential ones,” as Bertolt Brecht said.

She was one of those who struggled all her life, who fought against anything that seemed to her to be an injustice, sought untiringly after her comrades who had been arrested and “disappeared,” and finally did battle with death itself. Cancer took her away from us but was not able to take away her example, her energy, her commitment, her strength, nor her smile.A couple of days before International Women’s Day, the skies accompany us in our pain, the wind does not smell of death, but rather of hope. Woman, mother, wife, Communist, tireless fighter, straight talker, always on one single line … that was our Gladys Marín, president of the Communist Party of Chile, ex-Parliamentary deputy (and, it is worth noting, the youngest-ever member of Parliament, being only 24 years old when she was elected by the people to that post.

What can we say or do when death takes away from us someone who, in our subconscious fantasy, we always believed was eternal? Nonetheless, I am not very far from reality when I refer to eternity, because her name will be written in the annals of history.

She will represent for some the incarnation of stubbornness, but for us, for those who loved and respected her, she was the incarnation of commitment, the most beautiful thing that can exist in a woman. Her name will evoke the word “justice,” defense of the poor and of minorities. It will make us remember that ideals are never traded or sold out (so that we never take the twisted road of those who are today glorying in their power, with the current president of Chile, Ricardo Lagos, as a clear example).

I can only add that her death does not mean making the person she was into some kind of god-figure, but rather making her a worthy example for us to follow.

Katherine Contreras Vega is a young Chilean currently studying medicine in Cuba. Her grandfather was a trade union leader who “disappeared” during the Pinochet dictatorship. He was last seen being taken away in a car and never heard from again. His body has never been found. Kathy’s grandmother and mother have both been active in the Organization of Families of the Disappeared (Agrupacion de Familiares de los Detenidos Desaparecidos, www.afdd.cl/), formed in 1977. For 30 years they have tried to petition and pressure both the Pinochet regime and the current government to prosecute ex-military leaders who were responsible for these crimes and to reveal the locations and final resting places of their loved ones. Her parents are both members of the Communist Party of Chile and she is a member of the Communist Youth of Chile (Juventudes Comunistas de Chile).