Roque Dalton studied law in Chile and then at the University of San Salvador, where he helped found the Committed Generation of Poets. A member of the Salvadorean Communist Party, Dalton was imprisoned in 1959 and sentenced to death for organising students and peasants against the local landowners. On the day of his execution his life was saved when the military dictatorship was overthrown in a coup. Dalton escaped death a second time in 1965 when the prison was hit by an earthquake. He spent several years in exile in Mexico, Cuba and Czechoslovakia, publishing poetry, essays, fiction and biography and winning the 1969 Casa de las Américas poetry prize. In 1975 Dalton returned to El Salvador and joined the underground Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo (the Revolutionary Army of the People). Accused by the ERP of being a CIA spy, Dalton was murdered four days before his fortieth birthday.