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Castillo, Otto René (1937–1967)

Castillo, Otto René (1937–1967)

Otto René Castillo (b. 1937; d. 19 March 1967), Guatemalan poet. He is the best known of Guatemalan contemporary poets because of his revolutionary militancy and his heroic death. Castillo is one of the "guerrilla poets" who flourished throughout the continent during the 1960s, and is the author of Guatemala's best-known contemporary poem, "Vámonos patria a caminar" ("Let's start walking").

Castillo was born in Quezaltenango, Guatemala's second city. He was a student organizer and led the Association of High School Students. As a result, when the country was invaded in 1954, he was exiled to El Salvador. In 1955 he shared the Premio Centroamericano de Poesía with the Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton. He returned to Guatemala in 1957 and enrolled at the University of San Carlos. In 1959 he left for East Germany, where he studied literature at the University of Leipzig. In the early 1960s he trained as a filmmaker with the well-known Dutch documentary directory Joris Ivens. Castillo returned to Guatemala in 1966 and joined the ranks of the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR). In March 1967, after eating nothing but roots for fifteen days, his guerrilla group was ambushed and captured. Four days of torture ensued, after which Castillo was burned to death. His books are Vámonos patria a caminar (1965), Informe de una injusticia (1975), and Sabor de luto (1976).

See alsoGuerrilla Movements .


Otto René Castillo et al., Clamor de América: Antología de poesía latinoamericana (1970).

Otto René Castillo, Tomorrow Triumphant: Selected Poems, edited by Magdaly Fernández and David Volpendesta and translated by Roque Dalton (1984).

Additional Bibliography

Iffland, James. Ensayos sobre la poesía revolucionaria de Centroamérica. San José: EDUCA, 1994.

                                        Arturo Arias

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