The last word
Terry Santana

by the Editors

from Jump Cut, no. 28, April 1983, p. 72
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1983, 2005

The death of Rosa Teresa Terry Santana in New York last December under very suspicious circumstances dramatizes the government's current unleashing of spying and repression against the left.

Cuban-born Terry Santana was an activist providing the New York press corps with up-to-date information about El Salvador, promoting and distributing films from Central America, including the feature-length DECSION TO WIN, and exposing the connections between the C.I.A., the DINA (Chile's secret police), and exile-Cuban terrorist groups.

Firemen responding to a fire in her apartment discovered Santana's body December 4, 1982. The door was blocked with furniture, and various small fires had been set. The body was discovered scarcely burned, lying on the floor. Officials conducted only a preliminary autopsy in spite of demands of Santana's associates for a full investigation.

Within minutes of the firemen's arrival, the F.B.I. and police arrived, took photographs, and seized all the documents there. The New York press reported it as a probable suicide or accident. They tried to link Santana to a Puerto Rican terrorist group, the FALN, which she never associate with.

Santana's associates knew her to be in good spirits and dismissed the suicide explanation. Given the police and coroner's coverup, the case looks like a probable political assassination.

Santana came to the United States from Cuba as a teenager. She worked in health care and as a journalist. She wrote for the Daily World and was a leader in the El Salvador Information Office.

That Terry Santana was probably murdered for her political activity does not come as a surprise to very many current activists who know the government's past role in tacitly allowing, if not directing, violence and repression against the left. That Terry was primarily a journalist and cultural worker distributing DECISION TO WIN shows the vital importance of her political work at present. She was a threat just for distributing information critical of the current administration's policies. We can hardly appeal to the government for change when we know Reagan has thrown out the rulebook governing the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and other military and intelligence activity.

We mourn Terry Santana's death because it is a loss to the movement, but her example of activist media work can only increase our resolve to oppose capitalism and reaction in all its forms.