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I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

 


        
In 1981, the anthropologist Elisabeth Burgos-Debray interviewed Rigoberta Menchú, a young Guatemalan peasant woman who fought actively against the brutality of the Guatemalan military in her highland Maya community. The book that resulted from the interviews, I, Rigoberta Menchú (Verso, 1982), concerns Menchú's everyday life as a native Mayan as well as her spiritual and political commitments. Rigoberta Menchú won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. She used the money from the award to open a foundation to aid indigenous people in Guatemala and elsewhere. The Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation has helped to repatriate Guatemalans exiled in the civil war, and to press cases against continued human rights violations in Guatemala and abroad. A relentless advocate of the rights of indigenous peoples all over the world, Menchú was named Promoter of The United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples (1995-2004),
and was also appointed to be the personal advisor to the general director of UNESCO. She also heads the Indigenous Initiative for Peace. The 1999 publication of North American anthropologist David Stoll's book, Rigoberta Menchú and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans, initiated a controversy on whether some of the events recounted by Menchú's were true. Menchú has acknowledged using the testimony of other victims to tell her story, but defends the book as a testimonial to the suffering of indigenous Guatemalans.

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