Emiliano Marín was born on August 8, 1910, in Jayuya, Puerto Rico. He was raised in Puerto Rico by his parents, Francisco Marín and Maria Torres, until he was fifteen, and then moved to New York on May 25, 1926, with only an elementary school education. He settled in Spanish Harlem, where he would become active within the neighborhood’s community of Spanish-speaking immigrants.
On April 15, 1929, at the age of eighteen, Marín enlisted in the 369th Regiment of the New York National Guard–later known as the Harlem Hellfighters–as a fireman. He ultimately worked his way up to the rank of Private.
Marín became officially affiliated with the Communist Party in April 1934, but he was also associated with the Julio Antonio Mella Club, a Cuban workers’ club named after the founder of the Cuban Communist party, as well as the International Workers Order (IWO), a mutual aid fraternal society that provided life insurance and encouraged unionization. His interest and involvement in left-wing organizations were what led him to ultimately go to Spain to fight for the Republicans.
Marín, like most other volunteers, was smuggled across the Pyrenees Mountains, and he entered Spain through the town of Massanet in Catalonia in July 1937. Fluent in both Spanish and English, he became a prominent interpreter for American and Canadian military units within the Lincoln Battalion while he was receiving training. He achieved the rank of Cabo, or Corporal, and went on to serve in the defensive battles at Quinto and Belchite.
Marín also fought in the Republican offensive in Aragon, which resulted in an overwhelming win for the Nationalists and the deaths of many Republicans. Marín, however, survived, and went on to serve in the Ebro offensive, where he was wounded in action on July 30, 1938. He spent one month being treated at a hospital in Catalonia but returned to the offensive for a few more months until his service was cut short: In November 1938, with the situation in Spain growing more and more dangerous, the US consulate urged American volunteers to leave before it was too late. Soon after, on December 2, 1938, Marín–along with 325 other American volunteers–crossed the border into France. A week later, he and 323 others boarded the Ausonia back to New York, where they arrived on December 20.
After returning to New York from Spain, Marín took up various jobs, working at one time as a salesman and another as a laborer, for instance. He did not reenlist in the New York National Guard, but he likely continued his involvement within groups like the Communist Party. Marín was presumed to have died in October 1948, at the age of 38, when he was working as a seaman and disappeared at sea from the SS Cuba Victory.
Carrión, José Alejandro Ortiz, and Teresita Torres Rivera. 2015. Voluntarios de La Libertad : Puertorriqueños En La Defensa de La República Española 1936-1939. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Ediciones Callejón.
“Enlistment Card for Emilio Marin, 15th NY National Guard in 1929.” 2019. Oclc.org. 2019. https://nyheritage.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/nysmm/id/9707/rec/1.
Fernández, James D. 2011. “Nueva York (3): Club Julio A. Mella in Harlem.” The Volunteer. March 9, 2011. https://albavolunteer.org/2011/03/nueva-york-3-club-julio-a-mella-in-harlem/.
International Workers Order. 1940. Promoting Security: Facts about the Role and Purpose of the International Workers Order. Internet Archive. National Educational Department. https://archive.org/details/PromotingSecurityFactsAboutTheRoleAndPurposeOfTheInternational/page/n1/mode/2up.
“Marin, Emiliano | the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.” 2019. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives. December 10, 2019. https://alba-valb.org/volunteers/emiliano-marin/.