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Padre José Landaverde: Presente!

By Joe Iosbaker

Padre José Landaverde leading chants on the march on the RNC

Chicago, IL – Chicago lost a well-known fighter for immigrant rights on December 11. José Sigfredo Landaverde was a priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Anglican Catholic Church in Little Village. Padre Landaverde was also a friend of Freedom Road Socialist Organization. He died after a long battle with illness.

Born in Chalatenango, El Salvador in 1971, he was orphaned when the Salvadoran military killed his family. At 17 years of age, and at great risk to himself, José became a scout for the FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, or Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front). His job was to camp out next to a stream by a road and provide early warning to guerrilla fighters when the U.S.-backed death squads were approaching.

We first met José as a refugee from El Salvador in the early 1990s. At the time, we were working against the U.S. counterinsurgency war with the Committee In Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). Over the years, José became a constant feature of all struggles that affected the Latino community, but especially the struggle for immigrant rights.

FRSO fought alongside José in worker and immigrant rights fights; in the struggle against the U.S. war in Colombia; and we joined together to march against the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016. Padre Landaverde organized a march that covered the 360 miles from Chicago to oppose the hate that the Republican Party was bringing against Mexicans and other immigrants.

Tom Burke, a lead organizer in the March on the RNC in Cleveland, shared these memories of José:

“Always a man of deep faith in the people, Father José was able to connect with those suffering the most, and bring them some relief from their difficulties, or make them feel powerful to overcome the oppression they faced from bosses or police. He was constantly organizing groups to provide food, clothes and blankets for those devastated by earthquakes and mudslides and trucking it thousands of miles to where it needed to be through Mexico or Central America.

“José brought his personal struggle with alcohol addiction to aid others with classes and prayer and healing power. Padre Jose’s spirit will burn inside all those who seek justice and to make revolution in the U.S., Mexico and Central America. His selfless dedication to the people who immigrated to Chicago for jobs and a better life will stand as an example for others.

“We remember with fondness his wicked sense of humor and giggling that always turned to loud laughter! His spirit will continue with us as we fight to make revolution and climb to a socialist future.”

Padre Jose Landaverde: Presente!

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