Rigoberta Menchú Tum

  • Rigoberta Menchú was born on January 9, 1959 in Chimel, Guatemala
  • She is from the Quiché province of Guatemala, home to the Quiche/Kˊiché (Maya Indians)
  • She grew up helping her family farm in both the northern highlands and the pacific coast where they would go to pick coffee on plantations
  • As a teenager, Rigoberta was active in different social reform activities through the Catholic Church and took part in the women’s right movement
  • Her family was soon accused of taking part in guerrilla activities and her father was imprisoned and tortured for supposedly killing a plantation owner
  • After he was released, he joined the Committee of the Peasant Union (CUC)
  • In 1979, Rigoberta joined the CUC
  • Her brother was arrested and killed that same year
  • In 1978, her father was killed when security forces stormed the Spanish Embassy
  • Her mother also died that year after being arrested, tortured, and raped
  • Rigoberta continued to take part in the CUC and taught herself Spanish, and other Mayan languages
  • In 1980, she participated in a strike organized by CUC for better working conditions for farmers on the Pacific Coast
  • In 1981, Rigoberta was active in a large protest for better conditions for farm workers
  • She also joined the 31st of January Popular Front in 1981
  • Her main role in the organization was educating Indian peasants
  • That same year, Rigoberta also had to go into hiding in Guatemala and then fled to Mexico
  • In 1982, she helped create The United Representation of the Guatemalan Opposition (RUOG)
  • In 1983, her life story was told in the book I, Rigoberta Menchu written by Elisabeth Burgos Debray
  • In 1986, Rigoberta became a member of the National Coordinating Committee of CUC
  • In 1987, she narrated the film When the Mountains Tremble, which was about the struggle of the Maya people
  • Rigoberta has returned to Guatemala to advocate for the native people but she has had to return to exile due to death threats
  • She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992
  • In 1998, she was given the Prince of Asturias Award
  • In 1999, it was discovered that some parts of her book may have been exaggerated and she didn’t witness some of the events she claimed to witness but those events still took place and she got to keep her Nobel Peace Prize
  • In 2007, she was a presidential candidate in Guatemala but did not qualify for the run-offs
  • In 2011, she once again ran for president in Guatemala but lost
  • She continues to advocate on behalf of the Maya Indians and other indigenous people

Source: about, nobel prize, britannica, wikipedia

I, Rigoberta Menchú

Rigoberta Menchú and Elisabeth Burgos-Debray (Editor)

This work chronicles the life of Rigoberta Menchú. Rigoberta taught herself Spanish in order to tell this story herself. With the help of Elisabeth Burgos-Debray she tells the story of not only her life but the story of her people. She details the many horrors that the K'iche’ Maya have had to face at the hands of the Guatemalan government.

Rigoberta discusses many aspects of Maya culture including their emphasis on community rather than individuality and their deep and sacred connection to nature and the land that offers them sustenance.

She also expresses the life that the Maya have had to embrace in order to survive, which includes working on fincas where they are paid little for back breaking labor.

Her descriptions of life as a Maya woman, nature, her family and community are nothing but colorful and beautiful. Equally as detailed are her depictions of the cruelty, tortures and murders that the Maya were and continue to be forced to witness and endure.

My thoughts:

I, Rigoberta Menchú is both a beautiful and startling read.

I highly recommend this work for it is a personal shout from Rigoberta to the international community to give her people a voice. It offers the reader the ability to see the universe the way that a Maya does. Finally, it asserts that the Maya are not a people to be pitied or viewed as weak. They are a people who have been attacked for over five hundred years and yet they are still here and still fighting. This declares that the Maya are a people who can adapt and survive in a land filled with people who wish to vanquish them and their way of life.

The Maya believe that that each person in life is given a burden and part of that burden is to help another carry their burden. That is what the Maya do, they help one another and it is now our turn to hear their voices and listen.

I, Rigoberta Menchú is a shining example of courage and hope.

I highly recommend.

Here is a link to Rigoberta Menchú’s foundation: http://www.frmt.org/en/

My name is Rigoberta Menchu. I am twenty-three years old. This is my testimony. I didn’t learn it from a book and I didn’t learn it alone. I’d like to stress that it’s not only my life, it’s also the testimony of my people. It’s hard for me to remember everything that’s happened to me in my life since there have been many very bad times, but, yes, moments of joy as well. The important thing is that what has happened to me has happened to many other people too: My story is the story of all poor Guatemalans. My personal experience is the reality of a whole people.


Amary Sobel Diop

Country: Senegal

Apologie pour la paix (Apology for peace): aluminium plates taken from spray deodorants, copper wire, sewing, stitching, courtesy of the artist.

Tawakul Karman : 97 cm x 129
Aline Sitoe Diatta : 80 cm x 106 cm
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf : 103 cm x 129
Leymah Roberta Gbowee : 105 cm x 129 cm
Rigoberta Manchu Tum : 80 cm x 106 cm

A reality of the 21st century announces that the world will acknowledge women as we acknowledge reason. During the 20th and the 21th centuries, women began a fierce struggle for human rights. 
With Apologie pour la paix, Amary Sobel Diop pays tribute to the women of the past few decades responsible for a fragile peace, maintained through their actions: Her Excellence Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her compatriot Leymah Rigoberta Gbowee of Liberia, Burma’s Aung San Suu KYI, India’s Macedonian Mother Teresa, North Ireland’s Corrigan Mairead, Guatemala’s Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Yemen’s Tawakkul Karman, and Aline Sitoe Diatta of Senegal and the West African sub-region.
Among these remarkable personalities, the Biennale of Dakar chose to show a series of portraits, which include etched biographies of each individual.
The unique technique of stitched-assemblage, used to create each of these works, speaks to the need for uniqueness and to the coordination necessary to restore and to preserve a universal peace, called for by the artist.

Born in 1971 in Diourbel, Amary Sobel Diop lives and works in Senegal. He studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts of Dakar and became an art teacher in 2009. He intended to be a committed artist as he deals in his works with topical issues such as deforestation, peace culture, restoration and preservation of African cultural heritage, empowerment and enhancement of women. With a rather special technique he calls assembly couture, he retrieves, sew, glue and paint materials to express feelings, emotions and convey messages.

View online : http://sobel12.skyrock.com