Enrique Gorriarán Merlo


Enrique Gorriarán Merlo

Enrique Haroldo Gorriarán Merlo (18 October 194122 September 2006) was an Argentine revolutionary and guerrilla leader, born in San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Buenos Aires Province.

His family was affiliated with the Radical Civic Union, but at the age of 27 Gorriarán Merlo joined the Trotskyist Workers Revolutionary Party (PRT), and then took part in the foundation of its armed wing, the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP). He was a leader of the PRT and the ERP during the late 1960s and until the mid-1970s, including the beginning of the Argentine Dirty War, under the brief government of Héctor José Cámpora (1973), the third term of Juan Perón and the rule of Isabel Martínez de Perón, cut short by the coup that started the National Reorganization Process (1976).

He lived in Rosario, 70 km from his birth town, and worked for two years in the Swift frozen meat plant, until joining the clandestine insurgency around 1970. In an interview he mentioned that insurgent organizations gained thousands of recruits in the area at the time. Gorriarán Merlo led the first armed attack of ERP there, the capture of Police Station No. 24, in 1971.

Soon afterwards, he was captured and imprisoned in Rawson, Chubut. He was part of the group of revolutionaries that planned a prisoner breakout from the penal facility. Only 6 out of 110 were able to escape, during the night of 15 August 1972, according to plan; 19 were recaptured and 16 were executed (see Trelew Massacre). Gorriarán Merlo's group fled to Chile, then under the Socialist administration of Salvador Allende, and from there he was granted safe passage to Cuba. He came back to Argentina a few months later. In January 1974, he took part in the attack to the military base in Azul, Buenos Aires, where a military officer and his wife were killed.

After the fall of Isabel Perón in March 1976, the largely defeated ERP fled the country in order to reorganize itself. Gorriarán Merlo moved to Nicaragua to collaborate with the Sandinistas, and in 1980 he was involved in the assassination of dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, at the time exiled in Asunción, Paraguay. [ElOrtiba. [http://www.elortiba.org/gmerlo.html Enrique Gorriarán Merlo (1941-2006)] (profile and interviews).] In the last years of his life had prohibited the entry into Nicaragua, but enjoyed the support and friendship of the Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega.

Gorriarán Merlo founded the All For the Country Movement ("Movimiento Todos por la Patria", MTP) in 1985. He returned to Argentina in 1987. The MTP organized the 1989 attack on La Tablada Regiment, where 39 people were killed. Gorriarán Merlo was arrested in Mexico in 1995. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1996 and spent 8 years in the Devoto Prison.

While in prison he wrote an autobiographic book, "Memories of Enrique Gorriarán Merlo. From the 70s to La Tablada", which was published in January 2003. Along with other former guerrilla leaders, he was pardoned in May 2003 by President Eduardo Duhalde. [Clarín, 23 May 2003. [http://www.clarin.com/diario/2003/05/23/p-01401.htm "Gorriarán Merlo y Seineldín recuperaron la libertad"] .]

In November 2003 he went to Rosario and met the son of Stanley Sylvester, former manager of the Swift frozen meat plant, who was the first person kidnapped by the ERP, in 1971. Sylvester had died weeks ago. Gorriarán Merlo stated that he had always wanted to speak to him and apologize. [La Capital, 9 November 2003. [http://www.lacapital.com.ar/2003/11/09/politica/noticia_51895.shtml "El día que Gorriarán Merlo pasó por Rosario para pedir disculpas por un secuestro"] .]

Near the end of his life he publicly expressed that he would not choose to return to armed struggle, and tried to obtain political support to run for president in 2007. To this end, in 2005, before the legislative elections, he presented the Party for Work and Development ("Partido del Trabajo y el Desarrollo") before a small number of people in Rosario, with the goals of "closing the gap that separates the people from politics and the rich from the poor", "opposing neoliberalism" and supporting "Latin American integration". [La Capital, 26 June 2005. [http://www.lacapital.com.ar/2005/06/26/politica/noticia_207314.shtml Gorriarán Merlo lanzó su nuevo partido en Rosario] .]

Gorriarán Merlo died of a cardiac arrest at the Hospital Argerich in Buenos Aires, while he was about to be operated of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, on 22 September 2006, at the age of 64. [Clarín, 22 September 2006. [http://www.clarin.com/diario/2006/09/22/um/m-01276448.htm Murió el ex líder guerrillero Gorriarán Merlo] .]

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