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Tula, María Teresa (1951–)

Tula, María Teresa (1951–)

Salvadoran political activist. Name variations: Maria Teresa Tula. Born April 23, 1951, in Izalco, El Salvador; m. José Rafael Canales Guevara (blacksmith and labor organizer, murdered 1980); children: 6 (4 survived).

After husband was imprisoned for labor organizing, joined COMADRES (The Mothers and Relatives of Political Prisoners, Disappeared, and Assassinated) and participated in demonstrations, as well as the takeover of Red Cross and UN buildings and many Catholic Churches, to draw attention to cause; became full-time activist after husband was executed by right-wing death squad (1980); was further steeled by 1980 assassination of Archbishop Romero who had played a key role in founding and supporting COMADRES; fled with children to Mexico City, where she continued activism; traveled to Canada (1983) and Europe (1985), speaking out against brutalization of El Salvador's civilian population, interacting with feminists and developing ideas about Salvadoran grassroots feminism; returned to El Salvador (1986); because of continued COMADRES work, was imprisoned, tortured and raped by government forces; released due to international pressure, escaped to US with family (1987); lived in Washington, DC, working with COMADRES office; engaged in 7-year fight for political asylum (1987–94), hindered by official US support for El Salvador's government; moved to Minneapolis (1995); continued political work through COCODA (Companion Communities in Development), which links US municipalities to sister communities in El Salvador.

See also (with Lynn Stephen) Hear My Testimony: María Teresa Tula, Human Rights Activist of El Salvador (South End, 1994);.

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