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An intellectual, she was considered as an icon among revolutionary women in the region. Eventually she was killed by her own comrades on April 6, 1983 in Managua, Nicaragua.
She was born in the small town of Santiago Texacuangos, in the central zone of El Salvador. Ana María received her Doctorate of Education from the University of El Salvador, where she became a professor of education and gave classes in the 1960s. She was the assistant director of the Alberto Masferrer University.
At the end of the 1960s, she became one of the main leaders of the Gremial Association "ANDES 21 de Junio" (National Association of Salvadoran Teachers 21 of June). She led the strikes of professors of 1968 and 1971, which created major trouble for the government of general Fidel Sanchez Hernandez.
In 1970, the ex-Secretary General of the Communist Party of El Salvador, Salvador Cayetano Carpio founded the first guerrilla detachment of El Salvador: The Popular Forces of Liberacion Farabundo Martí (FPL).
On April 6, 1983, Ana Maria was murdered at her home in Managua, Nicaragua. Her assassins stabbed her eight times with an ice pick, 'to make it look like a brutal act of the Salvadorean right wing.' Nicaraguan authorities later apprehended the murderers and found them to be members of the FMLN. The murder was caused by a deep division that had developed within the FMLN. A conciliatory faction, which favored negotiation, was led by Ana Maria and Salvador Cayetano Carpio. The hard line faction opposed negotiation with the government of El Salvador, and supported a prolonged war. This faction was led by Rogelio Bazzaglia, who confessed to Ana Maria's murder.
Ana María is considered an iconic example for educators and those struggling against oppression, especially in El Salvador. The Melida Anaya Montes Language School in San Salvador, which uses popular education techniques highlights social justice issues, is named for her.
Mélida Anaya Montes Women’s Movement (MAM) was created in 1992 to defend women's rights.