"We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism."
Rigoberta Mench'u Tum, winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.
Rigoberta Menchu was born into poverty in a small Guatemalan village, she worked with her parents, tending corn and beans on their small plot. Rigoberta's father, Vicente, was one of the first in their region to seek justice and a better life for the indian people. He began a struggle to improve the conditions of the peasant workers and was burned to death during a protest. Her mother was killed a few weeks later by the goverment. Rather than destroying her, these atrocities strengthened Rigoberta Menchu's resolve to win freedom for her people.
Self-educated, she has shown herself to be a natural leader of great intelligence. She became an active political worker in labor, campesino and human rights groups. In 1983 her testimonial book, I, Rigoberta Menchú, An Indian Woman in Guatemala, was published, followed by various of her texts and poems.
Rigoberta Menchú's work focuses on the promotion of the defense of human rights, peace and Indigenous Peoples' rights. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, becoming the first Indigenous and the youngest person ever to receive this distinction.
For Rigoberta Menchú Tum, this Nobel Peace Prize acknowledges the struggles of Indigenous Peoples. It is also asymbolic recognition of the victims of repression, racism and poverty as well as an homage to Indigenous Women.
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