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Rigoberta Mechu Tum

Rigoberta Mechu Tum (1958 -)

Menchú Tum was born in 1959 to a Mayan family in Chimel, a mountain village in Guatemala.  In 1954, the United States government helped overthrow Guatemala's democratically elected government. The Guatemalan army took power and sparked more than 30 years of dictatorship, war, and violence, during which 200,000 Guatemalans were murdered. Menchú Tum lost both of her parents, two brothers, a sister-in-law, and three nieces and nephews to violence in Guatemala. Menchú Tum worked with the Committee of the Peasant Union to secure basic rights for the Mayan people, including fair wages and protection of their land. From 1980-1981, she participated in nonviolent demonstrations and helped educate Mayan peasants to resist military oppression. Rigoberta spoke publicly about the plight of the Mayan people in Guatemala while in exile. In 1983 she published I, Rigoberta Menchú and catapulted the civil war into global headlines. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.

“Let there be freedom for the Indians, wherever they may be in the American Continent or elsewhere in the world, because while they are alive, a glow of hope will be alive as well as a true concept of life.”

Rigoberta Mechu Tum
Rigoberta Mechu Tum