Who is she?
Rigoberta Menchu Tum is a K’iche’ political activist, an indigenous Guatemalan woman who promotes indigenous rights and fights for the rights of women in her country. After losing most of her family to the Guatemalan civil war, which lasted form 1960 to 1996, Menchu worked tirelessly to bring the perpetrators of that war to justice.
What did she do?
In 1982, she dictated the book “My Name is Rigoberta Menchu and this is how my Conscience was Born”, winning international acclaim and calling attention to the ongoing conflict in Guatemala, as well as the ill treatment of its mostly Mayan people. Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for “her work in social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.” She created the Rigoberta Mentu Tum Foundation, which helped indigenous Guatemalans in exile return home.
Why does that matter?
Rigoberta Menchu Tum gave a voice to the indigenous people of her country and paved the way for justice to be served. There is still a long way to go before the country is completely healed, but many people are dedicated to the task.
You may be thinking to yourself, “those look like shell casings….” Yes, those are shell casings that I glued to the piece to enhance the violence of the time. 30 years is a LONG time for a civil war.