Carlos Marighella

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Carlos Marighella
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
5 February 1946 – 10 January 1948[a]
Personal details
Born(1911-12-05)5 December 1911
Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Died4 November 1969(1969-11-04) (aged 57)
São Paulo, Brazil
Manner of deathAssassination
Resting placeCemitério Público da Quinta dos Lázaros, Salvador, Bahia
Political partyPCB (1932–1964)
Clara Charf
(m. 1948)
Domestic partner(s)Elza Sento Sé
Zilda Xavier Pereira
ChildrenCarlos Augusto
  • Augusto Marighella (father)
  • Maria Rita do Nascimento (mother)
OccupationPolitician, guerrilla fighter, poetist, professor
OrganizationALN (1964–1969)

Carlos Marighella (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈkaʁluz ˌmaɾiˈɡɛlɐ]; 5 December 1911 – 4 November 1969) was a Brazilian politician, writer, and militant of Marxist–Leninist orientation.[1][2] Critical of nonviolent resistance to the Brazilian military dictatorship, he founded the Ação Libertadora Nacional, a Marxist–Leninist urban guerrilla group, which was responsible for a series of bank robberies and high-profile kidnappings.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] He was killed by police in 1969 in an ambush. Marighella's most famous contribution to revolutionary literature was the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla.[11][12]


Marighella's PCB card, issued during the party's brief period of legality

Marighella was born in Salvador, Bahia, to Italian immigrant Augusto Marighella and Afro-Brazilian Maria Rita do Nascimento. His father was a blue-collar worker originally from Emilia, while his mother was a descendant of enslaved Africans, brought from the Sudan (Hausa blacks). He spent his young life at a house in Rua do Desterro, at the Baixa do Sapateiro neighbourhood, where he would graduate from primary and secondary education. In 1934, he left the Polytechnic School of Bahia, where he was pursuing a degree in civil engineering, in order to become an active member of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB). He then moved to Rio de Janeiro to work in the restructuring of PCB. Son of an Italian Roman Catholic father and a mother of african Muslim background, Carlos was raised in a catholic household, eventually becoming atheist in his early 20s.


Marighella was first arrested in 1932, after he wrote an offensive poem about the administration of Bahia intervener Juracy Magalhães. On 1 May 1936, during the Getúlio Vargas time in presidency, he was once again arrested for subversion. He was arrested again by the political police led by Filinto Müller. He remained in jail for a year. He was released by "macedada" (the measure which freed political prisoners without pressing charges against them). After his release, he once again entered clandestinity, along with all members of PCB. He was recaptured in 1939. He was not released until 1945, when an amnesty during the democratization process of the country benefited all political prisoners.

The following year, Marighella was elected constituent federal deputy by the Bahian branch of PCB, but he lost his office in 1948 under the new proscription of the party. Back in clandestinity, he occupied several offices in the leadership of the party. Invited by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Marighella visited China between 1953 and 1954 in order to learn more about the Chinese Communist Revolution. In May 1964, after the military coup, he was shot and arrested by agents of the Department of Social and Political Order (Departamento de Ordem Política e Social - DOPS), the political police, at a movie theater in Rio. He was released in the following year by a court order.


In 1966, he wrote The Brazilian Crisis, opting for the armed struggle against the military dictatorship. Later that year, he renounced his office in the national leadership of PCB.

In August 1967, he participated at the 1st Conference of Latin American Solidarity in Havana, contradicting what party had determined. In Havana, he wrote Some Questions About the Guerrillas in Brazil, dedicated to the memory of Che Guevara and made public by Jornal do Brasil on 5 September 1968. That same year he was expelled from PCB, and founded the Ação Libertadora Nacional (ALN) in February 1968.

Ação Libertadora Nacional[edit]

The Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS) attributed the assassination of Charles Rodney Chandler to Marighella and nine others according to the Folha da Tarde [pt] at the time.[13]

1969 kidnapping of the United States Ambassador[edit]

In September 1969, ALN members kidnapped the U.S. ambassador Charles Burke Elbrick in a coordinated move with the Revolutionary Movement 8th October (Movimento Revolucionário 8 de Outubro – MR-8). The group was responsible for several executions as well.[14]


Vandalised tombstone of Marighella, Cemitério Público da Quinta dos Lázaros, Salvador, Bahia, designed by the modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer.

After a series of successful robberies and kidnappings, the police force was determined to eliminate him.[15] He was shot by police at an ambush at 8:00 pm on 4 November 1969 at 800 Alameda Casa Branca, São Paulo. This ambush was organized by police deputy Sérgio Paranhos Fleury, known for his work inside DOPS.

Marighella was buried at Cemitério Público da Quinta dos Lázaros, a cemetery in Salvador, Bahia. His tombstone was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, and is the only grave monument designed by the architect. It bears a quote from Marighella: "I didn't have time to be afraid" (Não tive tempo para ter medo).[16]


Marighella's most famous contribution to revolutionary struggle literature[11] was the Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla,[12] consisting of advice on how to disrupt and overthrow a military regime as part of a Marxist revolution. Written shortly before his death in late 1969 in São Paulo, Minimanual was first published in North America by the Berkeley Tribe in Berkeley, California in July 1970 in an English edition.[17][18]

In popular culture[edit]

In the 2006 biographical drama film Baptism of Blood, Marighella was portrayed by Brazilian actor and musician Marku Ribas.[19]

In the 2019 drama Marighella, Marighella was portrayed by Seu Jorge; the film was accomplished actor Wagner Moura's directorial debut. The movie was exhibited at international film festivals, but Brazil's Agência Nacional do Cinema (National Agency of Cinema), during Bolsonaro's government, barred it from distribution in Brazil,[20] citing "subversive elements"; it finally appeared on Brazilian screens in November, 2021.[21]


  1. ^ Term extinct of the 38th Legislature on 10 January 1946 due to Law no. 211 of 7 January 1948, Article 2 and in the terms of the Director's Board Act of the Chamber of Deputies of 10 January 1948.


  1. ^ Marighella, Carlos (1 December 1966). "Carta à Comissão Executiva do Partido Comunista Brasileiro". Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  2. ^ Magalhães, Mário (2012). Marighella (in Portuguese). Companhia das Letras. ISBN 9788580864717.
  3. ^ Sulzberger, C. L. (22 October 1977). "Terror Without A Philosophy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  4. ^ "The Terrorist Classic: Manual of the Urban Guerrilla". Foreign Affairs: America and the World. No. Spring 1986. 28 January 2009. ISSN 0015-7120. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  5. ^ Williams, John W. (1989). "Carlos Marighella: The father of urban guerrilla warfare". Terrorism. 12 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1080/10576108908435757. ISSN 0149-0389.
  6. ^ "Marighella, Carlos (1911–1969)", The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism, SAGE Publications, Inc., 2011, doi:10.4135/9781412980173.n254, ISBN 9781412980166, retrieved 18 February 2019
  7. ^ Müller, Kai (15 February 2019). "Carlos Marighella - der gute Terrorist". Der Tagesspiegel Online (in German). Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  8. ^ Schaefer, Annette (1 December 2017). "Inside the Terrorist Mind". Scientific American. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  9. ^ Ekaterina, Stepanova (2008). Terrorism in asymmetrical conflict: ideological and structural aspects. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199533558. OCLC 170034858.
  10. ^ "Marighella: who is the terrorist brought by Wagner Moura to the movies?". Gazeta do Povo. 18 February 2019. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  11. ^ a b White, Jonathan. "Ideological Terrorism." Chapter 12 in Terrorism and Homeland Security, 5thEdition. Mason, Ohio, Cengage Learning, 2006. Page 218.
  12. ^ a b Williams, John W. (January 1989). "Carlos Marighella: The father of urban guerrilla warfare". Terrorism. 12 (1): 1–20. doi:10.1080/10576108908435757. ISSN 0149-0389.
  13. ^ "Quem foi Charles Rodney Chandler, militar americano morto pela luta armada citado por Bolsonaro nos EUA". BBC News Brasil (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 2 March 2023.
  14. ^ "Marighella: who is the terrorist brought by Wagner Moura to the movies? | Texto em inglês com áudio". Wise Up News: textos em inglês com áudio da Gazeta do Povo. 18 February 2019. Archived from the original on 24 May 2022. Retrieved 28 April 2019.
  15. ^ Holmes, Richard; Hugh Biceno; et al. (2001). Oxford Companion to Military History. Oxford University Press. p. 549. ISBN 978-0-19-860696-3.
  16. ^ Paulo Bungart Neto (2017). "Entre a luta armada e a poesia libertária: o engajamento radical de Carlos Marighella". Literatura e Autoritarismo (in Portuguese) (18). doi:10.5902/1679849X25574. ISSN 1679-849X. Wikidata Q107380297.
  17. ^ library of america/berkeley tribe
  18. ^ University of newspapers/microfilm collection
  19. ^ "Batismo de Sangue at Recanto das Letras". Recanto das Letras (in Brazilian Portuguese). 3 May 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2022.
  20. ^ Oliveira, Joana (14 September 2019). "'Marighella', na zona cinzenta entre cortes, problemas na Ancine e censura sob Bolsonaro". El País Brasil (in Brazilian Portuguese). Retrieved 14 November 2022.
  21. ^ "'Marighella' chega aos cinemas com aura de fenômeno pop".

External links[edit]