Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, who was honored in 1992 for her efforts on behalf of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, will address the Peace Conference.
Rigoberta Menchú was born into poverty in a small Guatemalan village, where she worked with her parents, tending corn and beans on their small plot. Her 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 government. Rather than destroying her, these atrocities strengthened Rigoberta Menchú’s resolve to win freedom for her people.
Self-educated, she is a natural leader with 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 to high acclaim.
Rigoberta Menchú was the first Indigenous and the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. To her, the Prize “acknowledges the struggles of Indigenous peoples. It is also a symbolic recognition of the victims of repression, racism and poverty, as well as paying homage to Indigenous women.”