Camilo Torres - Helder Camara

Hixson, Carol G., 1955-
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Carol G. Hixson

In February of 1966, Camilo Torres-Restrepo, the priest-turned guerilla, was killed during a clash with government troops in Santander Province in Colombia. The government secretly buried his body in an unmarked grave in an effort to prevent his elevation to the state of a martyr. In the face of riots, rallies, and promises of vengeance, coming primarily from students, the oligarchy outwardly lamented the loss of the sheep gone astray. "El Tiempo", one of the primary organs of the oligarchy, wrote, "Unfortunately his very vocation of service, which was generous and unselfish in him, carried him to extremes and led him first to separate from the priesthood and then to change his cassock for the clothes of a guerilla, in a country where today such activity lacks all justification and even all revolutionary significance." In that same year, in Colombia's mammoth neighbor to the east, Brazil, students were protesting the abolition of the direct vote for the upcoming presidential elections. Alarmed at the virulent manner in which the "revolutionary " government was repressing the protests, the Archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Dom Helder Camara, began establishing for himself the reputation of being the Red Archbishop by supporting the students and by expressing concern over "the violations against the living temple" (physical violence) perpetrated by the government. This paper examines the stories of these two priests-turned-revolutionaries.

19 p. Paper presented for a class in Latin American history at Grinnell College, Iowa, in April 1975.