revolutionary (1911 - 1969).
Born in Salvador, Bahia, Marighella studied to become an engineer, but was forced to drop out due to his political activities as a militant of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB). His troubles with the law began in 1932, when he was arrested for writing a poem criticizing the appointed governor of his state.
In 1935 he moved to Rio, taking several positions in the party. On May Day, 1936, he was arrested and tortured for 23 days by the Special Police run by Nazi-sympathizer Filinto Müller. Fearlessly continuing his political activities, Marighella was arrested again in 1939. He spent six years arrested in near-total isolation.
In 1945, after dictator Getúlio Vargas left the power, he was released. He was elected as a deputy in 1946, only to have his political rights withdrawn in 1948. Though Marighella was kept under strict surveillance, he does not leave his political life behind. In 1952, he traveled to China to study the successes of the communist regime.
In the years before the military coup of 1964, he becomes a fierce critic of the PCB's orthodoxy, best represented by its leader Luís Carlos Prestes. After the coup, he was tracked down, shot and arrested in a movie theater, though he later regained freedom under popular pressure.
In 1966, he published "The Brazilian Crisis", an analysis of the political scenario in Brazil, where he attacks the PCB's legalistic platform and its hopes for an alliance with the middle class. This document is the basis of his political thought and the reasoning for his adoption of urban guerrilla. The only way out, he says, is through a popular revolutionary government. Marighella's idea was to establish a guerrilla in the center of Brazil, near Brasília, but before the rural guerrilla could be established, it should garner support and fund itself through urban guerrilla.
The next year, Marighella, unauthorized by the party, goes to the Conference of the Organization for Latin American Solidarity promoted by Cuba, where he signs a manifesto for armed resistance. He is banned from the PCB, but he takes most of its members with him.
In 1968, the year of the AI-5, the Institutional Act that kick-started hard-line dictatorship, Marighella creates the ALN (National Liberation Action), a communist resistance group in the spirit of the ALN (National Liberation Alliance) which in 1935 fought dictator Getúlio Vargas. His ALN becomes an active urban guerrilla group immediately.
The following year Marighella publishes his most famous work: the Mini-manual of the Urban Guerrilla. Refusing then-common guevarism, Marighella sees cities as the ideal scenario for guerrilla war. The mini-manual defines the ethics and the methods of urban guerrilla - what kind of training each member of the group needs, which skills are necessary, how to prepare for each kind of operation and environment, how to fund further guerrilla activity, how to keep a low profile, which institutions should be targeted, etc. The manual becomes an instant classic and samizdat copies quickly spread through the underground networks.
Urban guerrilla, Marighella said, should not be afraid to spread terror to destabilize the government. In the face of the crimes of the military dictatorship, its murders, its torture chambers, the name terrorist became something to be proud of.
In his short time as leader of the ALN, the organization "expropriated" several banks, took control of the National Radio Station, which had to broadcast a manifesto, attacked military and police outposts and, with also-revolutionary group MR-8, kidnapped American ambassador Charles Burke Elbrick, who was released later when political prisoners were sent to exile in Mexico.
Marighella himself died soon after the event, in 1969. He was walking in a calm neighborhood in São Paulo where a battalion of the police awaited him. He was shot two times, non-lethally, and then executed minutes later, in place. Although he was carrying a gun, he did not have time to take it, and he was alone. The official version claimed he died in a "violent shooting". His body was carried to a cemetery by 15 men with machine guns. Nobody else was allowed to attend his burial.
Marighella, who was already a legendary commander, ascended to stardom in the marxist guerrillas, his papers becoming bibles to be followed by a generation of revolutionaries. His ALN, though, became increasingly fragmented after his death. It later split to become MOLIPO (Popular Liberation Movement) and TL (Leninist Tendence).
After the end of the dictatorship, the true story of the events leading to his death was revealed. The State was found guilty of Marighella's murder. His family received a controversial indemnification.
BRASIL: Nunca Mais. Book by the Brasil Nunca Mais group, denouncing the horrors of the military dictatorship. The third chapter has an overview of the resistance groups and their activities.
Mini-manual of Urban Guerrilla in French: