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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Magda Portal

b. 1901 or 1903, Barranco, Peru; d. 1989, Lima

Poet, journalist, feminist, and activist, Magda Portal was a central figure in Peru’s political vanguard during the first half of the twentieth century and spent extended periods of her life imprisoned or in exile. She was a founding member of the Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana (Popular Revolutionary Alliance for America, APRA), a political party dedicated to overthrowing the power of foreign corporations, landowners, and the church, and achieving equal rights and agrarian reform for indigenous populations. Founded in 1928, the party did not advance a progressive agenda on women. Portal was initially in agreement; she was contemptuous of bourgeois feminism and, like her comrades, believed that women’s emancipation would come with the revolution. By the late 1940s, however, she was firmly committed to a platform of women’s rights and was consequently isolated within the party; ultimately she was stripped of her title—secretary-general—and relegated to the margins. Her experience is related in the biographical novel La Trampa (The Trap, 1954). She subsequently became an active member of the Lima-based feminist group Alliance for the Liberation of Peruvian Women.