Mary Low Machado (1912-2007)

Earlier this week I found out that Mary Low Machado had died on 9 January, aged 94. I have been researching the Spanish revolution, one of the great events of the twentieth century, which she participated in as a Trotskyist. This is what I know of her life:

Mary Low was born in London of Australian parents on 14 May 1912. She went to Spain in August 1936 with her partner, Cuban Trotskyist Juan Breá Landestoy (1905-1941). In the five months she was in Spain, she worked for the POUM, the centrist party containing most of the Trotskyists and ex-Trotskyists in Spain. She was part of a talented group of Trotsky-influenced young people, including the surrealist poet Benjamin Peret, Kurt and Katia Landau, Hipólito and Mika Etchebehere, Lois Cusick (Orr) and Charles Orr, Pavel Thalmann and Clara (Ensner) Thalmann, Nicola Di Bartolomeo and Virginia Gervasini, Robert de Fauconnet, Erwin Wolff and Hans Freund who went to Spain to fight for working class socialism. Many paid for their courage with their lives.

Low did radio broadcasts and edited the 8-page English-language weekly newspaper, The Spanish Revolution, from its first nine issues from 21 October 1936 until 23 December 1936. She was responsible for the section “News and notes” and for translating into English articles published in the POUM’s paper, La Batalla.

She and Breá left Spain on 28 December 1936. (The following issue of The Spanish Revolution, Volume II, No1, 6 January 1937 announced her departure.) Breá had been detained twice by the Stalinists and was involved in a near fatal and suspicious car “accident”.

When she returned to England, she and Breá wrote Red Spanish Notebook, published by Secker and Warburg in 1937 with a preface by CLR James. The book was reviewed favourably by George Orwell. The book describes their experience, including at the front, where Breá fought in the POUM columns.

Low went to live in Cuba with Breá, but after he died in 1941, she married Armando Machado. She taught at the Instituto de El Vedado and the Universidad de la Habana.
She left Cuba in 1965 for Australia, before settling in Miami.

I’d like to find out more about what she did in those crucial years and what she became politically.

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