Rigoberta Menchu

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Rigoberta Menchú Tum

"In 1992, Rigoberta Menchú Tum was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples in her native Guatemala. At 33, she became the youngest person and the first indigenous person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

"Rigoberta Menchú Tum was born in 1959 to a poor Indian family in the highlands of Guatemala. Like many other countries in South and Central America, Guatemala has experienced great tension between the descendants of European immigrants and the native Indian population. The Menchú family experienced extreme hardship as a result of their Mayan background.

"In the 1970s and 1980s, the repressive military dictatorship of Guatemala began a large-scale repression of Indian peoples. Before she was 21, Rigoberta’s mother, father and brother had been brutally tortured and murdered by the Guatemalan army.

"Rigoberta confronted the oppression faced by her family and her peoples by actively protesting labor and human rights abuses. In 1981 she was forced to leave her country and seek exile in Mexico. In exile she became an eloquent defender of the rights and values of indigenous peoples and other victims of government oppression. On several occasions, Rigoberta returned to her home country to plead the cause of the Indian peasants, but death threats forced her to return into exile. In 1983, Rigoberta’s testimonial book I, Rigoberta Menchú, helped the plight of the indigenous people in Guatemala become global news.

"After winning the Peace Prize, Rigoberta established the Rigoberta Menchu Tum Foundation which promotes the rights of indigenous people around the world. Over the years, she has become widely known as a leading advocate of Indian rights and ethno-cultural reconciliation. In 1998, she published Rigoberta: La Nieta de los Mayas, later translated into English and titled Crossing Borders.

"Rigoberta’s work has earned her several international awards and honorary doctorates. In 1993, she was nominated by the United Nations as Goodwill Ambassador for the International Year of the Indigenous Peoples. She went on to serve as the official spokesperson for the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Peoples from 1994 – 2003. She has held the position of Good Will Ambassador for the Peace Accords in Guatemala since 2004. Rigoberta is also involved in the Mexican pharmaceutical industry as President of the company Salud para Todos ("Health for All"), which has the goal of offering cheap generic medicines to indigenous people in Guatemala.

"For more information please visit the website of the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation at http://www.rigobertamenchu.org" [1]


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  1. Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Guatemala - 1992, Nobel Women's Initiative, accessed July 18, 2007.
  2. Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education People, organizational web page, accessed April 29, 2012.
  3. World Peace Festival Advisory Board, organizational web page, accessed March 21, 2013.
  4. Club of Rome Honorary Members, organizational web page, accessed April 12, 2012.
  5. Honorees, Earth Society Foundation, accessed July 24, 2008.
  6. International Advisory Committee, SIPAZ, accessed August 24, 2009.