Rigoberta Menchu

Rigoberta Menchu

Rainey Powell, Reporter

Rigoberta Menchu, born on January 9, 1959, is an advocate for her indigenous people who are fighting oppression. Menchu grew up in a poor family that had undergone much social suppression. Her father was imprisoned and tortured for participating in the execution of a plantation owner, after his release, he joined the Committee of Peasant Union. Shortly after in 1979, Rigoberta also joined the CUC. That same year her brother was killed and tortured by the army. The next year her father was also killed by security forces that stormed the Spanish capital. Shortly after, her mother was arrested, tortured, and raped after which she perished. 

After these traumatic experiences, Menchu was even more active in CUC. Her goal was better the conditions for farmworkers and educating the Indian peasant population in resistance to military oppression. In 1981, Rigoberta Menchú had to go into hiding in Guatemala and then fled to Mexico. This marked the beginning of a new phase in her life. She was an organizer for the resistance of oppression in Guatemala and the struggle for Indian peasant peoples’ rights. In 1983 she told her life story to Elisabeth Burgos Debray. The resulting book was called “I, Rigoberta Menchu.” In 1992 Menchu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her struggle to bring social justice and rights to indigenous people.