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I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

The best-selling account of the life of Latin American peasant woman and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Now a global bestseller, the remarkable life of Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan peasant woman, reflects on the experiences common to many Indian communities in Latin America. Menchú suffered gross injustice and hardship in her early life: her brother, father and mother were murdered by the Guatemalan military. She learned Spanish and turned to catechistic work as an expression of political revolt as well as religious commitment. Menchú vividly conveys the traditional beliefs of her community and her personal response to feminist and socialist ideas. Above all, these pages are illuminated by the enduring courage and passionate sense of justice of an extraordinary woman.

Reviews

  • “A moving account of gruesome repression, gut-wrenching poverty and vicious racism … A call to conscience.”
  • “A fascinating and moving description of the culture of an entire people.”
  • “A cornerstone of the multicultural canon.”
  • “An extraordinary document.”

Blog

  • Rigoberta Menchú: "We waited 33 years for justice"

    Today, Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchú appeared on Democracy Now! to talk about the conviction for genocide of former US-backed dictator in Guatemala, Ríoss Montt.

    In her memoir, I, Rigoberta Menchú, the author tells the story of the Guatemalan genocidal war in which approximately 250,000 people were killed.

    In the interview, Menchú stressed the importance of last Friday's verdict, which made Montt the first head of state ever to be convicted for genocide within his own country.

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  • Women against inequality: A Verso reading list for International Women's Day.

    "What is 'Women's Day'? Is it really necessary?" Alexandra Kollontai asked readers of the Russian journal Pravda a centenary ago. "On Women's Day," she wrote, "the organised demonstrate against their lack of rights."

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  • On the Legacy of Hugo Chávez

    This obituary by Greg Grandin originally appeared in The Nation.

    I first met Hugo Chávez in New York City in September 2006, just after his infamous appearance on the floor of the UN General Assembly, where he called George W. Bush the devil. "Yesterday, the devil came here," he said, "Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of." He then made the sign of the cross, kissed his hand, winked at his audience and looked to the sky. It was vintage Chávez, an outrageous remark leavened with just the right touch of detail (the lingering sulfur!) to make it something more than bombast, cutting through soporific nostrums of diplomatese and drawing fire away from Iran, which was in the cross hairs at that meeting.

    The press of course went into high dudgeon, and not just for the obvious reason that it's one thing for opponents in the Middle East to call the United States the Great Satan and another thing for the president of a Latin American country to personally single out its president as Beelzebub, on US soil no less.

    I think what really rankled was that Chávez was claiming a privilege that had long belonged to the United States, that is, the right to paint its adversaries not as rational actors but as existential evil. Latin American populists, from Argentina's Juan Perón to, most recently, Chávez, have long served as characters in a story the US tells about itself, reaffirming the maturity of its electorate and the moderation of its political culture. There are at most eleven political prisoners in Venezuela, and that's taking the opposition's broad definition of the term, which includes individuals who worked to overthrow the government in 2002, and yet it is not just the right in this country who regularly compared Chávez to the worst mass murderers and dictators in history. New Yorker critic Alex Ross, in an essay published a few years back celebrating the wunderkind Venezuelan conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, fretted about enjoying the fruits of Venezuela’s much-lauded government-funded system of music training: “Stalin, too, was a great believer in music for the people.”

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