Nobel and Noble: Rigoberta Menchú Tum
“The peoples of Guatemala will mobilize and will be aware of their strength in building up a worthy future. They are preparing themselves to sow the future, to free themselves from atavisms, to rediscover their heritage. To build a country with a genuine national identity. To start a new life.” 1
In the previous post, we learned about Jesús Tecú Osorio, a Guatemalan human rights activist. Guatemala has also produced another great activist in the area of human rights, in particular indigenous people’s rights: Rigoberta Menchú Tum.
Rigoberta was born and raised raised in Guatemala and her family belongs to the Quiche branch of the Mayan culture. There are several biographies of Rigoberta such as Crossing Borders: An Autobiography that discuss her life and her work. While there has been some dispute over the accuracy of her 1982 biography, no one denies that she is a fervent campaigner for human rights.
It was in the year marking Columbus’ 500th anniversary of his “Discovery” of America that Rigoberta received the Nobel Peace Prize 2, while she was still in exile from Guatemala.
“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.”1
Interestingly, the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy is “committed to justice, where all students can come to learn whether they are indigenous or not” and they offer a curriculum which is inclusive and supports all cultures of Guatemala. In addition to Spanish, students also learn Quiché (K’iche) which is the second-most popular language in Guatemala having over 1 million speakers.