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Dolores Ibárruri

Dolores Ibarruri

Dolores Ibárruri, called "La Pasionaria" (November 12, 1895 - December 9, 1989). Spanish political leader; Secretary General of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE), 1944-1960; President of the Communist Party of Spain, 1960-1989; member of the Cortes, 1936 and 1977-1979.

Born into a poor mining family in the town of Gallarta, province of Vizcaya, in the Basque country of Spain, Ibárruri was the eighth of eleven children. She wanted to teach, but her family could not afford to pay for her schooling. She was involved in social struggles from her youth. In 1916, at the age of twenty, she married Julian Ruiz, a miner and political activist. She had six children, but four died before adulthood due, in part, to their extreme poverty.

After his participation in the general strike of 1917, Ruiz was imprisoned, which exacerbated the family's financial hardship. Ibárruri studied the writings of Karl Marx and joined the Communist Party (PCE). She wrote articles for El Minero Vizcaino, the miners' newspaper, under the pseudonym of Pasionaria, passion flower.

In 1920, she was elected to the Provincial Committee of the Basque Communist Party. She gained respect and popularity, and in 1930 was elected to the Central Committee of the Spanish Communist Party.

With the advent of the Second Republic in 1931 she moved to Madrid, where she became editor of the left-wing newspaper, Mundo Obrero. She worked for the improvement of conditions for women. Later she was elevated to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Party. Due to her activities, she was arrested and imprisoned several times. Her speaking abilities made her one of the chief representatives of the PCE. She was a delegate to the Communist International (Comintern) in Moscow in 1933.

She was elected to the Cortes in 1936, and campaigned for improved working, housing, and health conditions. With the outbreak of the Civil War she raised her voice in defense of the Republic with the famous slogan "They Shall Not Pass". Her speeches rallied a large part of the population, particularly the women, to the anti-fascist cause. She took part in different committees with personages like Palmiro Togliatti to win aid for the Republican cause. Nevertheless, after three bloody years, in 1939, with the capture of Madrid, the fascist forces prevailed. Ibárruri went into exile in the USSR, where she continued her political activity. Her only son, Ruben, joined the Red Army, and perished in the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942.

In May, 1944 she became Secretary General of the PCE, a position she held until 1960, when she took over the title President of the PCE until her death. In the early Sixties she was granted Soviet citizenship. Her political work was recognized during these years and she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Moscow. In addition she received the Lenin Peace Prize (1964) and the Order of Lenin (1965). Her autobiography, No Pasaran (They Shall Not Pass), was published in 1966.

After the death of Francisco Franco in 1975 she returned to her native land. She was elected a deputy to the Cortes in June 1977, in the first elections after the restoration of democracy.

Ibárruri died of pneumonia at the age of 93 in Madrid.

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