The Story of Sergio Mancilla Caro, A Southern Internationalist Guerrilla Fighter
by Sergio Reyes (*)
This October 2014 a Spanish language e-book entitled "La Historia de Sergio Mancilla Caro, Un Guerrillero Internationalista Austral" (The Story of Sergio Mancilla Caro, A Southern Internationalist Guerrilla Fighter) has begun international circulation. This book reveals the transformation of a young man born where the land ends in the South, Magallanes, Chile, to conclude his life in the mountains of El Salvador. This paper has been a collective effort of his childhood friends, his family, and especially his beloved companion in struggle and wife, in an effort to rescue the details of his life, which over the lapse of more than 30 years seemed lost.
This story, however, has revealed to be not just a simple story. Combined here are Mancilla Caro's thoughts, his political work, his solidarity activities, and the terrible repression that pushed him to go into exile from Chile to Panama. Then, the stories reveal that his own convictions led him to work in the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua, and finally in the revolutionary guerrilla war in El Salvador.
Like all Chilean political prisoners, Mancilla Caro was dragged from military barrack to military barrack transformed into prison camps, including a concentration camp built exclusively for this purpose, Dawson Island. From prisons in Punta Arenas he was moved to the prisoners camp Tres Alamos in Santiago. From there he went into exile to Panama in 1975. Once there, he actively participated in solidarity with the revolutionary struggles that occurred at that time in Central America.
In 1979, Mancilla Caro, decided to go to work in support of the Nicaraguan Revolution. This revolutionary process was supported by many Chileans as Mancilla Caro. In Nicaragua, a group of members of the Chilean MAPU (Garreton) Party prepared to participate in the armed guerrilla struggle in El Salvador. Eight young men belonging to the Chilean MAPU party traveled to fight alongside the People's Liberation Front of El Salvador in July 1981. In October 1981, Mancilla Caro, fell riddled with bullets from soldiers of the Salvadoran military. Of the eight members of the international contingent of MAPU, six survived.
In Chile, including his family, we had lost track of our friend Mancilla Caro, wondering what was of his aspirations, his ideals, his political work and finally his sacrifice for the cause he lived and died for. As it usually happen when information is not available, we had replaced the life and death of this young man with a myth. To the extent that the reader becomes witness to the stories told us by those who where close to him, you will see that his history is far more important and interesting than any myth.
The story of this young man from Magallanes turned revolutionary guerrilla is a bigger story. In Magallanes we perceived him wrongly as an outsider, when Magallanes was his cradle. Obviously, we did not know much about his childhood. We knew little or nothing about his family life. When he left Chile we didn't know that he found love in exile and that he, his love and many others joined in the ensuing struggle for social justice in Panama, Nicaragua and El Salvador. We didn't know that in El Salvador he ceased to be Sergio simply to become Horacio, the guerrilla fighter.
Sergio did not live to see the final years of the infamous military dictatorship in his country to make way for a capitalist "cautelada" (“controlled” - as political analysts politely call it) democracy . He could not see either that some of his own leaders who praised his revolutionary fighter sacrifice are now large capitalists within the system that they inherited from the dictatorship. Neither he could see that in the same country where his remains are still buried in the mountains, the second guerrilla commander at the time of his death is now president of El Salvador.
Capitalism has solidified in Chile, and is working very well for the rich with the help of many of those who survived the repression of the dictatorship. A former Chilean political prisoner and exile is now president for the second time and yet is instrumental to capitalism. Those among us who are still able to raise a critical voice about these things, like yesterday, are a minority. I'm sure if he was alive, Sergio would side with us with the same courage that characterized him.
Sergio Mancilla Caro will no longer be missing among us. There will no longer be “presumed death” as his official death certificate indicates. We found him in our collective memory and we know when and where he died fighting. Now, after reading this book, we all can learn details about his life and his death. Those of us who loved him as a friend and comrade, can now continue to think of him as an "average man", as he wanted us to remember him. And based on this history of this average man we reaffirm that he was a good man, a good companion, a good revolutionary, a great brave, a good man from Magallanes, a good Chilean, a good internationalist, faithful to his ideals until death. Sergio Mancilla Caro, Presente! - Comrade Horacio, Presente! One day, after many struggles like yours, I am convinced that we shall overcome.
(*) Sergio Reyes, was a political prisoner in Magallanes, Chile, from 1973 to 1976. He lived in forced exile in the United States until 1989 when the ban on 6000 prisoners whose exile was extended by a decree that prevented him from returning to the country indefinitely was lifted. Reyes is the coordinator of this collective memory project. He is also the digital book producer.
Title: La Historia de Sergio Mancilla Caro, un Guerrillero Internacionalista Austral
Author: Compiled by Sergio Reyes
Publication Date: October 1, 2014
The e-book can be purchased directly at the publisher's the format for Nook, Kindle, or pdf.
Also available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Kobo, Scribd, and other international distributors.