Luís Espinal Camps

Luís Espinal Camps (1932–1980), also known by the nickname "Lucho"[1][2] and by the Catalan name Lluís Espinal i Camps, was a Spanish Jesuit priest, poet, journalist, filmmaker, and film critic.

Luís Espinal Camps
Born(1932-02-02)2 February 1932
Died21 March 1980(1980-03-21) (aged 48)
La Paz, Bolivia
Other namesLucho Espinal
Lluís Espinal i Camps
Occupation(s)Jesuit priest, poet, journalist, filmmaker, film critic
Years active1962-1980


Luís Espinal Camps was born on 2 February 1932 in Sant Fruitós de Bages, Catalonia, Spain.[1][3] He aspired to be a priest even as a child.[4] Espinal was educated at the minor seminary of San Jose in Roquetes, Baix Ebre between 1944 and 1949.[3] He joined the Society of Jesus of Veruela, Zaragoza in 1949, made his perpetual vows in 1951, and studied Humanities and Greco-Roman Literature (1951–53) there.[3][5][6] He studied Philosophy at the Facultad Eclesiástica of San Cugat del Vallés from 1953 to 1956.[5] While doing another licenciate course in Philosophy at the Universidad Civil de Barcelona, Espinal gave classes of Greek literature and Latin poetry to Jesuits.[5] He studied Theology (1959–63) at the Facultad Eclesiástica of San Cugat del Vallés,[5] and was ordained priest in 1962.[3] He later obtained a degree in film and television from the Italian Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (1964–65).[3]


In 1968, Espinal moved to La Paz, Bolivia, as a missionary.[1] There, he lived alongside the families of miners during the dictatorship of Luis García Meza.[7] Becoming a human-rights activist,[8] he co-founded the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights.[1][6] He gained Bolivian citizenship in 1970.[1]

Beyond priest and activist, Espinal was also a poet, journalist, and filmmaker.[7]

He had worked for a brief period in Spanish television.[1] In December 1967, he left Spain in protest against Francisco Franco's dictatorship censorship of him and his program channel, TVE.[5][6] In Bolivia, he directed the social issues-themed Cuestión urgente[4] ("Urgent Issue"). In Bolivia, he directed a similar program,[4] En carne viva (lit. "In living flesh"[9]), a series of 20-minute documentaries for Televisión Boliviana (TVB).[2] The show lasted from 1970 to 1971, when Espinal was sent off from TVB because he interviewed the Ñancahuazú Guerrilla.[5]

Espinal was a film professor at the Higher University of San Andrés and the Universidad Católica Boliviana,[1][4] and worked for Radio Fides.[1] Espinal was a film critic for the newspapers Presencia, Última hora and Aquí,[1][2] a member of film company Ukamu, and author of ten books on cinema.[1] He was one of the most informed critics of film, television and radio in the country.[1]


In 1980, a Bolivian-government death squad murdered Espinal in La Paz.[10]

In the headquarters of the newspaper Presencia Espinal joined a December 1977 hunger strike led by Domitila Chúngara,[1] requesting amnesty for exiled labour and political leaders.[11] Espinal was killed by a right-wing paramilitary death squad in March 1980.[8][12] He was kidnapped by the paramilitaries on 21 March and was tortured.[1][7] His bounded and gagged body was only found by peasants the next day on the road to Chacaltaya.[1][7] Some sources say Espinal was killed because he would publicize the cocaine traffic done by military personnel.[13] Other say that the reason was that he informed against efforts to censor a public exhibition of Jorge Sanjinés's film El coraje del pueblo,[14] a documentary that denounced the massacre of 67.[15]


Espinal's funeral on March 24 was reportedly attended by over 7,000 people in a manifestation against the regime.[1][7] A posthumous book written by Espinal, Oraciones a quemarropa (lit. "Point-blank Prayers"), was published containing his poetic prose and prayers.[1] In his homage, the Catalonia's Society of Jesus created the Luis Espinal Camps Foundation.[1] For Espinal's contribution to cinema and human rights, Morales declared in 2007 the "Bolivian Cinema Day" to be commemorated on 21 March.[7] In 1982, Bolivian historian Carlos Mesa published the book El cine boliviano según Luis Espinal.[2] Bolivian writer Alfonso Gumucio Dagron wrote a biography of Espinal in 1985.[16][17] The 2007 documentary Lucho: Gastar la vida por los demais, directed by Nelson Martínez, explored the life of Espinal.[18][19]

In 1985, the song "A Luis Espinal" appeared on thei debut album El Huerto by the Bolivian group Rumisonko, based in Washington, DC.[20]

In July 2015, Pope Francis visited the site where Espinal was killed.[7] Espinal gained international notoriety as the author of a crucifix that incorporated the hammer and sickle after Bolivian president Evo Morales gave a replica of it to Pope Francis.[21] The Pope said the Jesuit "preached the Gospel, the Gospel that bothered them, and because of this they got rid of him".[22] Vatican representative Frederico Lombardi said that the object stands for open dialogue and his commitment to freedom.[21] However, Espinal's friend, Xavier Albó, said it symbolised that the Church should be in dialogue with Marxism, peasants and miners.[21]



  • Bartolomeo Colleoni (1966) – assistant director, assistant editor[2]
  • Noche iluminada (1966) – writer[2]
  • Pistolas para la paz (1969) – director, writer[2]
  • Sangre en el Chaco (1974) – writer[2]
  • Chuquiago (1977) – writer[14]
  • Qué hacemos (1977) – writer[2]
  • El embrujo de mi tierra (1978) – writer[2]
  • La Guerra del Pacífico (1979) – writer[2]


  • En carne viva (1970–1971) segments:[2]
    • La Cárcel
    • La prostitución
    • La droga
    • La violencia
    • Inmigración
    • Hijos sin nombre
    • Educación sexual
    • Madre soltera
    • Alcoholismo
    • Sacerdotes obreros
    • Delincuencia juvenil
    • Inferioridad femenina

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Kohut, David; Vilella, Olga (2010). Historical Dictionary of the Dirty Wars. Scarecrow Press. pp. 153–154. ISBN 978-0-8108-7374-2.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Veizaga, Sergio de la Zerda (2011). "Lo que el cine boliviano le debe a Luis Espinal" [What the Bolivian cinema owes to Luis Espinal]. Punto Cero. 16 (22). ISSN 1815-0276. Archived from the original on February 23, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Lluís Espinal i Camps". Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana (in Catalan). Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d Hdez-Mora, Salud (8 July 2015). "¿Quién es el jesuita español al que Francisco rinde un homenaje?" [Who is the Spanish Jesuit to whom Pope Francis pays tribute?]. El Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Espinal, Luis (1982). Lucho Espinal, testigo de nuestra América [Lucho Espinal, witness of our America]. IEPALA Editorial. pp. 17–20. ISBN 9788485436156.
  6. ^ a b c de Juana, Alvaro; Harris, Elise (9 July 2015). "Pope Francis apparently not amused by 'communist crucifix'". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "The Pope prays at the site of Fr. Luis Espinal's assassination". Vatican Radio. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  8. ^ a b Sherwell, Phillip (9 July 2015). "Pope rebukes Bolivia's President Evo Morales for gift of crucifix mounted on hammer and sickle". The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  9. ^ Sànchez-H. 1999, p. 257.
  10. ^ Andersen, Jon Lee (17 July 2015). "The Pope of Latin America". The New Yorker. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  11. ^ Kohut & Vilella 2010, p. 66.
  12. ^ Wilkison, Tracy (9 July 2015). "In Bolivia, Pope Francis warns against discarding the weak". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  13. ^ Sànchez-H., José (1999). The Art and Politics of Bolivian Cinema. Scarecrow Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-1-4616-7246-3.
  14. ^ a b Hirst, Peter R. (2014). Historical Dictionary of South American Cinema. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-8108-8036-8.
  15. ^ Hirst 2014, p. 573.
  16. ^ Kohut & Vilella 2010, p. 181.
  17. ^ Sànchez-H. 1999, p. 259.
  18. ^ "7º Festival Internacional de Cine de los Derechos Humanos" [7th International Film Festival on Human Rights] (PDF) (in Spanish). IEPALA. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  19. ^ Machicado, Giannina (21 March 2015). "Salas y canales difundirán hoy 22 filmes nacionales" [Rooms and channels will show 22 national films today]. La Prensa (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 11 July 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  20. ^ Rumisonko. "El Huerto". Discogs. Retrieved 21 February 2023.
  21. ^ a b c Winfield, Nicole (9 July 2015). "Vatican: 'Communist crucifix' sign of dialogue, not ideology". Associated Press. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  22. ^ Mezzofiore, Gianluca (9 July 2015). "Pope Francis receives 'Communist' hammer and sickle crucifix from Bolivia president". International Business Times. Retrieved 10 July 2015.