On this rainy day, we stay in the offices of Wuqu’Kawoq to translate the interviews we had in Kaqchikel and manage the last imperatives of the project on the spot (hey, the return is approaching …). So, a few days before leaving Guatemala, we wanted to talk about Rigoberta Menchú, an exemplary woman who inspired our documentary approach.

In 1992, just 33 years old, Rigoberta Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, as the civil war and genocide perpetrated against the Mayan people began to end. This prize is dedicated to her in recognition of her 1983 work, Moi, Rigoberta Menchú, which highlights the importance of ethno-cultural reconciliation in Guatemala for the respect of the rights of indigenous peoples.

Rigoberta Menchú is a Mayan woman who grew up in rural communities in the country. From the age of 5, she started working in the fields to help her family provide for her needs. She did not have the opportunity to go to school and once an adult she began to politicize, taking part in political discussions between the men in her family. She wanted to denounce the crimes committed by the Guatemalan military and the human rights violations they perpetrated. During the civil war, whole villages were razed, houses were burned, crops were totally destroyed. The army drew up long lists of names of young Mayan widows who were to join the military camps. These women became true slaves, having to cook for the soldiers, washing their clothes while also undergoing rape.

Not knowing how to read or write, she dictates her work to Elizabeth Burgos, a Venezuelan author who will take the time to write what Rigoberta Menchú has on her heart.

Despite the lack of opportunity and the difficulties to be personally recognized, Rigoberta Menchú devoted his life to making the Maya people of Guatemala heard. In February 2007, she founded the WINAQ political party, which brings together all the Maya movements in her country. WINAQ comes from the K’iche language and means “the people”. She is running in the presidential election of September of the same year. However, she finds herself eliminated in the first round, garnering only 3% of the vote …

Rigoberta Menchú is today an exemplary figure for many Mayan women in Guatemala. Various photos with his most famous quotes are also posted on the walls of Wuqu’Kawoq. The life of this woman offers a poignant perspective of the practical difficulties that indigenous communities face daily. At the intersection between feminist struggles and struggles for the recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, Rigoberta Menchú has become the epitome of militancy in Central America, and beyond the borders …

 

* La paix n’est pas seulement l’absence de guerre, tant qu’il y aura la pauvreté, le racisme, la discrimination et l’exclusion, nous pourrons difficilement atteindre un monde de paix.