Today is the last day of Hispanic Heritage month, which started on September 15. I guess we get two-half months instead of a whole month just like we get two half-terms (Hispanic, which means Spanish-speaking and Latino, which means Latin American) for our collective grouping, which is ironic since we’re mostly descended from the original peoples of both North and South America, but get to be half citizens in our own countries. Thanks irony.
Anyway, this lady:
- She’s Guatemalan Maya, and has spent her adult life talking about the plight of the Maya people, who were victims of a genocidal terror perpetrated by their own government against them.
- She is best known for the 1983 book I, Rigoberta Menchú, an oral autobiography she dictated to anthropologist Elisabeth Burgos-Debray over several days while she was in Paris as part of a political delegation. In the book, Menchú talks about her life as an indigenous person in Guatemala, where her people are severely oppressed. Her brother, mother and father were all murdered by the land-owners or the government. The book helped to elevate world-awareness of the situation in Guatemala, and several of the leaders during this time have now been tried and convicted of genocide.
- She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
- Conservative backlash against her stated that she lied in her autobiography. While it does look like her claim that she was kept out of school school was false, and she may not have actually witnessed her 16-year-old brother’s execution, her description of it matches what happened to him and many boys like him for decades. Most of her detractors have proven to be sour-grapes racists with far less integrity and far more questionable stories of their own.
- She’s run for president of Guatemala twice, in 2007 and 2011. She was the country’s first indigenous presidential candidate, although she got less than 3% of the vote both times.