Ana Guadalupe Martínez, known as the "Commandante" to revolutionaries in El Salvador, became involved with the leftist movement at a young age when she joined a student strike protesting discrimination against poor students in 1969 at the Universidad de El Salvador. In 1972, when the elected liberal Government was overthrown in a day by a military junta, Ms. Martínez joined the Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (ERP). By 1974, she was the rebel commander in the country's eastern section until 1976 when she was captured and imprisoned for nine months by the Salvadoran National Guard.
She spent the following ten months in exile in Algeria and France before returning to El Salvador in 1978 to rejoin the guerrilla forces. She spent the latter part of the Salvadoran War travelling in Europe to make cabinet-level contacts and argue her cause. In 1992, along with four top commanders of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), Ms. Martínez signed a United Nations brokered peace agreement with the Salvadoran Government to end the 12-year civil war.
In this interview, conducted on 21 June 1997, Ms. Martínez recounted her experiences in the Salvadoran Civil War. She stated what, in her opinion, caused the war; and discussed female involvement in the revolution, her imprisonment, the peace agreement and the importance of the Truth Commission.