Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Rigoberta Menchú Tum (born in Chimel , Guatemala, January 9, 1959) was the recipient of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize, given "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples".
Her prize is based in part on her 1987 autobiography I, Rigoberta Menchú. Detractors claim that the book contains many fabrications (see journalistic fraud for details of these allegations). Her defenders claim that any dishonesties are offset by the overarching importance of her tale of Guatemalan suppression of the Indian people. Her work had significant impact, enough that President Bill Clinton at one point publicly apologized for CIA support of repressive anti-Communist military dictatorships in the country.
Menchú states that she began migrant farm work at age five under conditions that killed siblings and friends. As an adult, she joined family members in action against military for its human rights abuses. Violence forced her exile in 1981. Menchú is a member of the indigenous Quiché Maya group.
In 1991 she participated in the ongoing preparation by the United Nations of a declaration of the rights of indigenous people. She is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She returned to Guatemala to work for change.
She also sought to have Guatemala's ex-military dictator and failed 2003 presidential candidate Efraín Ríos Montt tried in Spanish courts in 1999 for crimes committed against Spanish citizens; these attempts faltered, however. In addition to the deaths of Spanish citizens, the most serious charges include genocide against the Maya people of Guatemala.
- Biography at nobel.se
- Nobel Peace Prize lecture
- Bruderhof Peacemakers Guide profile on Rigoberta Menchú Tum
- Salon.com: Rigoberta Menchú meets the press
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