Fortuny, José Manuel (1916–)

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Fortuny, José Manuel (1916–)

José Manuel Fortuny (b. 22 March 1916), Guatemalan Communist leader. Fortuny was born in Cuilapa in the department of Santa Rosa to a middle-class family. He studied law at the University of San Carlos but never graduated. Beginning in 1938 he worked as a journalist, and the following year he began to write poetry and theatrical works for radio. In 1940 he won a national poetry prize. Until 1942 he was a journalist with the radio news program Diario del Aire, directed by the novelist Miguel Angel Asturias.

Fortuny began his political career in the student struggle against the dictator Jorge Ubico (1931–1944) and participated in the revolution of October 1944. From 1945 to 1949 he was a representative to the National Constituent Assembly and to the Guatemalan Congress. He founded the leftist Popular Liberation Front (FPL) in 1944 and served as secretary-general to both the FPL and the Revolutionary Action Party (PAR) in 1947. In that same year he formed a faction within the PAR called the Democratic Vanguard, which gave rise in 1949 to the Guatemalan Communist Party (PCG), renamed the Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT) in 1952. He was the secretary-general of this group until 1954.

Fortuny played a key role in the administration of President Jacobo Arbenz (1951–1954) as the president's friend, personal adviser, and member of the so-called "kitchen cabinet," writing many of his speeches. After the American intervention and subsequent fall of Arbenz, Fortuny went into exile. He continued as leader of his party, and between 1971 and 1974 lived clandestinely within Guatemala. He later moved to Mexico City and went to work for the newspaper Uno Más Uno. In the 1990s he remained a Marxist and followed the moderate evolution of the former Italian Communist Party.

See alsoGuatemala, Political Parties: Guatemalan Labor Party (PGT); Guatemala, Political Parties: Revolutionary Action Party (PAR).


Flores, Marco Antonio. Fortuny: Un comunista guatemalteco. Guatemala: Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, 1994.

Gleijeses, Piero. Shattered Hope: The Guatemalan Revolution and the United States, 1944–1954. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991.

James, Daniel. Red Design for the Americas: Guatemalan Prelude. New York: John Day Co., Inc., 1954.

Schlesinger, Stephen and Stephen Kinzer. Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. Garden City: Doubleday, 1982.

Schneider, Ronald M. Communism in Guatemala, 1944–1954. New York: Praeger, 1958.

                                   VÍctor AcuÑa