Father Luis Espinal Camps was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1932. As a young man, he studied philosophy and theology and entered the Jesuit novitiate in Veruela in Zaragoza at age 17. In that same year, he traveled to Bergamo, Italy to study audiovisual journalism; two years later, upon his return to Spain, he began working with TVE at the height of the dictatorship under Francisco Franco. Renouncing the censorship that plagued TVE, he traveled to Bolivia on August 6, 1968 and took over as a chair in the journalism department in the Universidad Católica Boliviana. He later became the Sub-Director of the entire department, and on June 11, 1970, he was granted Bolivian citizenship. Father Espinal then began his journalism career. Over the course of the next ten years, he produced documentaries on social themes, worked in radio and the written press, and even became a scriptwriter. Even more importantly, Father Espinal worked to defend human rights: he cofounded the Permanent Assembly of Human Rights in Bolivia in 1976 and participated in a three-week-long hunger strike in 1977 that helped contribute to the creation of an opposition to Hugo Banzer.

In 1979, he took charge of the weekly newspaper Aquí, a newspaper quickly declared “leftist” due to its defense of human rights and weekly denunciations of abuse and corruption within the government and the mismanagement of the state. As a result, on March 21, 1980, Father Espinal was returning to his house when a group of paramilitaries kidnapped him and took him to the slaughterhouse in Achachicala in La Paz. He was tortured for five hours: the men beat him, burned him with cigarettes, shocked him with high voltages of electricity, broke his sternum and ribs, and finally shot him 17 times. His dead body was later discovered still handcuffed and gagged. One line from his book Religión effectively sums up his life’s mission: “Whosoever does not have the courage to speak on behalf of other people does not have the right to speak with God.”

Sources:
http://www.signis.net/article.php3?id_article=1274
http://www.bolpress.com/art.php?Cod=2007032104
http://www.biografiasyvidas.com/biografia/e/espinal.htm

Shannon Doyle

Shannon Doyle is a Junior at John Carroll university from Westfield, NJ. Last semester she studied at NUI Maynooth in Ireland. She is majoring in sociology with a minor in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights and is planning to complete her masters in Non-Profit Administration. She bacame interested in the Ignatian Solidarity network after attending the Ignatian Family Teach-in last fall. She has been involved in many volunteer activities in and outside of campus including volunteering each summer at Sister Pat’s Kids Camp in New York for kids with cancer and blood disorders. last summer she also volunteered with the York Street Project in Jersey City which helps young mothers complete their high school degree. At John Carroll she is also President of the Carroll Cinema Society and a member of the Ultimate Frisbee Team.