Dolores Ib√°rruri in 1978. Image from Wikipedia.

Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, known as Dolores Ibárruri, was born on 9 December 1895 in a poor region of northern Spain. But from these humble beginnings, she would become one of the most important (and badass) people in Spanish politics.

She became interested in politics at school, but she dropped out aged fifteen and began working, first in domestic service and then as a waitress in a nearby town. It was there that she met Julián Ruiz Gabiña, a miner, union activist and founder of a Socialist youth group. They were married in late 1915.

Dolores began writing political articles in 1918 under the pseudonym ‘La Pasionaria’ (the Passionflower), and joined the newly formed Spanish Communist Party in 1920, where she became an active member. Dolores was a skilled public orator, and despite suffering periods of imprisonment for her political views and support of working class people, she eventually rose through the ranks to become a member of the Central Committee of the Party by 1930.

In February 1936, in the last democratic elections in Spain for 40 years, Dolores was elected as a Communist deputy, forming part of the left wing Popular Front Coalition. But those on the right were already planning their takeover, and on 17 July 1936, General Francisco Franco began his military coup.

In a speech on the radio from the Ministry of the Interior in Madrid on 19 July 1936, Dolores delivered her most famous speech, ‘No Pasaran!’ in English, “They shall not pass!”, to inspire the people of Spain to fight the Fascist takeover and support the Spanish Republican cause.

In the following three years of the Spanish Civil War, the slogan “No Pasaran!” was used by the Republicans to symbolise the fight against the Fascist Nationalists.

The Spanish Civil War was lost in 1939, and so began 40 years of dictatorship under General Franco. Dolores spent this time in exile in Russia, from where she continued to give speeches on the radio and led the Spanish Communist Party for 25 years, until her resignation in 1960. Following Franco’s death in 1975, Dolores returned to Spain to campaign for the Spanish Communist Party ahead of the upcoming elections. She was elected as a Deputy for her home region of Asturias in northern Spain, and for a time held the post of President of the Spanish Parliament, the third highest position in Spain after the King and the Prime Minister.

La Pasionaria died as a Spanish national hero on 12 November 1989. “No Pasaran!” has come to symbolise resistance against forces of oppression the world over, including recently being worn on t-shirts by the band Pussy Riot.

A video of La Pasionaria giving an impassioned speech can be seen below. It is rare to see a great female orator, and even rarer for one to be celebrated. Dolores Ibárruri was a really fiery speaker who well deserves the title ‘La Pasionaria’.

-Jocelyn Anderson-Wood
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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