Arlen Siu

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Arlen Siu (15), martyr of the Sandinista revolution.
A group of Nicaraguans holding and marching with a picture of Arlen Siu and the FSLN flag in Jinotepe 3 years after her death.

Arlen Siu Bermúdez (15 July 1955–1 August 1975), better known as Arlen Siu, was a Chinese Nicaraguan who became one of the first female martyrs of the Sandinista revolution.

Early life[edit]

Arlen Siu was born on 15 July 1955 in Jinotepe, Nicaragua. Her father, Armando Siu Lau, was born in Guangdong, China, and immigrated to Nicaragua in the late 1940s after serving in the Communist Revolutionary Army,[1] he later married a native Nicaraguan woman. Arlen attended La Escuela Normal de Señoritas (Young Women's Normal School), located in Jinotepe, and she later attended UNAN, where she often sang with Marlene Álvarez, a member of a music group named Pancasán.[2]

Sandinista revolution[edit]

Arlen Siu was 18 when she joined the Sandinistas,[1] and proved to be one of the most faithful followers of the cause. She had already attained a level of national celebrity as a talented songwriter, singer, and guitarist by the time she joined the movement. She was killed August 1, 1975[3] during an ambush near El Sauce, Leon, Nicaragua, by soldiers from Anastasio Somoza Debayle's National Guard. She was twenty years old.

She is considered by many in Nicaragua to be one of the earliest martyrs of the revolutionary movement. Her artistic works and critical essays on Marxism and feminism served as an inspiration to both the Sandinista movement and the Nicaraguan Women's movement.[1] After her murder, she became one of the earliest martyrs of the Sandinista revolution. Her picture would frequently show up in the hands of Nicaraguans at FSLN celebrations throughout Nicaragua. On the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua in the town of El Rama, as well as in Managua, there is a large barrio (neighborhood) named in her honor, there is also a park in Leon, Nicaragua named after her.[4]

Arlen Siu in popular culture[edit]

Arlen wrote a song entitled "Maria Rural", and since her death, it has been sung by Marlene Alvarez and Grupo Pancasan, among others.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Roshni Rustomji-Kerns, Rajini Srikanth, Leny Mendoza Strobel (1999). Encounters: People of Asian Descent in the Americas. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 119–120. ISBN 0-8476-9145-4. 
  2. ^ ""Personalidades en la Musica de Nicaragua: Pancasán hizo su historia" (in Spanish). Manfut. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 
  3. ^ "Mujeres Que Hacen La Revolución: Arlen Siu". 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  4. ^ "Parque de León sin recursos". La Prensa (in Spanish). Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  5. ^ Randall, Margaret (1980). Todas estamos despiertas: Testimonios de la mujer Nicaragüense de hoy. Siglo XXI. pp. 122–123. ISBN 968-23-1011-3. 

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