Rigoberta Menchú for President

Graffiti of Rigorberta Menchú

No, this stencil-art graffiti portrait of Rigoberta Menchú is not part of Banksy‘s art portfolio. According to NEARsyx, our Guatemalan expert in uban art, this portrait is quite possibly the work of H.I.J.O.S. (Sons and daughters for the Identity and Justice against Oblivion and Silence), a collective of sons and daughter of the disappeared during Guatemala’s civil war. Their main objective is to bring justice and to not let Guatemalans forget the recent history; The Peace Accords were barely signed 11 years ago in 1996.

Who is Rigoberta Menchú, anyway? Well, she thought you may want to know, so she coauthored a book by the name of “Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así­ me nació la conciencia” (My name is Rigoberta Menchú and this how my Consciencie was Born) back in 1982. TThe book became a great success when translated into English (as “I, Rigoberta Menchú“), giving her a role on the international stage at the time of the ongoing conflict in Guatemala [source: Wikipedia]. If you have the means to buy the book, available through Amazon, you should get it if you are interested in learning a bit about Guatemala’s recent history. You can also read the entry about Rigoberta Menchú in Wikipedia. She was the recipient of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and Prince of Asturias Award in 1998.

What is Rigoberta Menchú’s Mission, anyway? She has embarked in an impossible mission. She is running for the Guatemalan Presidency. So what, why is this an impossible mission? Isn’t she Guatemalan and thus possess the legal rights to run for the presidency? Well, yes, that is correct. But, and this is a big but, she is a woman; worst yet, she is an indigenous woman; even worst, she is an indigenous woman from the left.

See, not everything is fine and dandy in the paradisiac lands of Guatemala. Real democracy is still over a century behind. In Guatemala, a woman could not get elected as president, just yet, although it has happened several times in Latin America (even in Central America). In Guatemala, an indigenous person could not get elected as president, just yet, although it has happened twice in the American continent with Benito Juárez and Evo Morales. In Guatemala, a person from the left could not get elected as president, just yet, even though most countries in South America and even Nicaragua in Central America have elected people from the left.

Now you can see why her candidacy for the presidency of Guatemala is such an impossible mission. I guess she decided that one can be part of the problem or part of the solution; she opted for the latter. Who was it that said, those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it.

If you could vote in the next elections in Guatemala, would cast your vote for a woman? for an indigenous person? for somebody from the left (democrat)? would you cast your vote for Rigoberta Menchú? or none of the above?

Graffiti of Rigorberta Menchú in La Antigua Guatemala

© 2007 – 2017, Rudy Girón. All rights reserved.

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  • stephanie

    very interesting!

  • Love the framing of this photo — and I see how much it adds to the photo’s tone after reading your commentary. I’m glad she’s running for president — while she may not get elected, she’s causing the issues you outlined to continue to be in the public arena. Thanks for making me aware of them, more than I was already.

  • It is a very good photo. Excellent!!!
    I respect a lot Mrs. Menchu, but even she is the Nobel, I don’t like that anybody paints the public things. That is not nice for the cities. I hope she’ll send people to clean everything up, after elections.

  • Javier

    Hey Rudy,

    Too bad I did not get the chance to meet you, I went to antigua twice in the two weeks I was here, but unfortunately I was being rush visiting family in the City and in el Salvador. But I will keep in touch with you through this great website. Thanx for keeping me hopefull of coming back to Guatemala.

  • I’m familiar with Nobel Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu and have even heard her speak on television…California University… (a translator worked with her). Her personal history is amazing, inspiring, and so tragic as her family members were put to death in the horrendous conflict. Through all of it she has come through with a message of PEACE and HOPE for a better Guatemala. I would not hesitate to elect a humanitarian such as her for president; however, I understand how indigenous (and women at that) are treated in Guatemala…esp. by the ruling aristocracy. Nevertheless, Ms. Menchu is inspiring! I wish her well.

  • im so proud of woman running for presidency.. goodluck to rigoberta…

  • Geoffrey

    I think they did a great job with the stencil. Her story is inspiring and I admire her courage to run for president knowing that she likely wont be elected but at least it gives her a platform to bring light to those issues that affect the indigenous and the non indigenous.

  • Rigoberta Menchu is, indeed inspiring. Keep meaning to mention Rudy, but she’s also appearing in ads on Spanish TV recently.

  • Jerry T

    Interesting questions, Rudy, and good for thought. As for voting for a woman, yes I would vote for a woman. We women can do anything we set our minds too! As for an indigenous person, absolutely. What I have observed about the indigenous people of Guatemala is that they are hard-working and very resourceful. If I understood the issues on the left and right in Guatemala, I could answer better whether I would vote for a person on the left. Generally in the US, I tend to vote very conservatively, but a change is definately needed in Guatemalan government. The oppression of the indigenous people stresses me. I think like an American, and believe all people are create equal. OK, enough of my views. I need to research more about this person. I did go to her website, but my Spanish is almost non-existent, so I did not gain much info.

  • An arresting image for all sorts of reasons…

    Planet Earth Daily Photo.

  • Claudia

    muy interesante Rudy. I don’t know where I stand; what do you think about all the people and articles saying she lied about a lot of things? Is that propaganda? I am not there so it’s hard to judge; I personally think she is very courageous to make that attempt in a country where I know first hand that being indigenous is viewed as offensive. I respect her a lot (from the articles I’ve read) All the atrocities commited and the ones we know about are just the tip of the iceberg. What about all the ones we don’t and never will know about? There is NO democracy in Guatemala – it simply seems that way. . .then again, look at the prize (sarcasm) we got here in the U.S. – I hate to be a pessimist but even if she won, fair and square – she’d never live to see it with the way things work down there. But there is hope and hope is the first step.

  • Vero

    Allow me to reveal a little something about myself: I am a hispanic woman with mainly leftist ideas. That said, I look forward to the day when a qualified indigenous woman is a candidate for the presidency not only because she is an indigenous leftist woman but also for her effective leadership. I cannot say much about the candidates for president because I don’t know much about them. I can however say that the futile effort of Rigoberta Menchu to become president is admirable because someone has to start paving the way for the future Presidenta.

    On a side note, the U.S. election and the Guatemalan election will have interesting results since the President elected will to a certain extent give us insight into each country. If Hillary wins could that mean that we are ready for a woman president but not a black president? If Obama wins will that say we are ready for a black president but not a woman president? Or maybe a white man will take the white house for another four years, revealing that as a nation the U.S. is not as progressive as we claim to be.

    In Guatemala, I believe it is as Rudy says: it is impossible that Rigoberta Menchu, a woman, indigenous, and a leftist, will be president. Who knows how long it will be before Guatemala see’s a female, a leftist or an indigenous person, let alone one that embodies all three. The Guatemalan people do not necessarily hide their views on minorities and women as well as the Estado Unidenses.

  • Wonderful image and very interesting to learn a bit about what is taking place in your country. Even in the United States, we can’t seem to get a woman president!

    Sometimes I think what is important is that we make our voices heard, and that is what Menchu is doing. I would vote for her!

  • Herbasio

    Yo si votaria por ella…. Y lo estoy considerando seriamente…

  • I hhave not the chance to hear her speech as a candidate, pero me parece una persona muy interesante y profundamente admirable.

  • Manolo

    Pues unless I take a colazo to Guate I won’t be able to vote in the next elections. Would I vote for Menchú for president? I might surprise a few by saying this, but probably I would. I for sure would take a better look to all the candidates’ platforms. By the way, I read recently in elPeriodico an interview with the candidate from the URNG/MAIZ (URNG is the former guerrilla group now a leftist political party) stating that they are the only real left in this next elections.
    But what do I know about voting… last time I did it in Guate I voted for Berger in the first round and for Portillo in the second… next thing I did was board a plane to Canada… and probably the elected president was within my top 20 reasons for doing so.

  • ale

    I have been toying with the idea that Rigoberta’s candidacy for this term is important not because she believes she can win this time, but because the next elections will coincide with the onset of the new Maya era according to the Maya calendar. So, imagine a Maya woman running to become president in 2012! Pretty powerful, no?

  • Great shot, and great piece of stencil-art. Menchu is one of my heroines… everyone should read her book. I didn’t know she was running for president until I saw this on your site (most British media unfortunately carries very little news from Latin America)

  • Mario

    Menchú should again be more than commended for standing up in the face of continued injustice. Indigenous Guatemalans deserve infinitely better. This woman needs outside monetary support. She, more than any other candidate for western political office, would greatly benefit from our donations. Guatemala has found a voice in Rigoberta.

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  • dude

    She is a liar and should be ashamed of it. I would never vote for a liar. I know certain things did happen to the indigenous, but you are all voting for a liar if you vote fore her!

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  • rigo

    i know this is and old post but…

    as a Guatemalan person… it makes me sad to hear you talking about our “issues” in such an erroneous way, i do comprehend that all you see is the tip of the iceberg and this is only from a very media perspective created to make way to their own ends.

    if you want to know why Rigoberta Menchu lost. The best thing i can say to you is read the comment that *Mario* wrote (because its exactly why we as Guatemalans freely went and didn’t vote fore her)

    “Menchú should again be more than commended for standing up in the face of continued injustice. Indigenous Guatemalans deserve infinitely better. This woman needs outside monetary support. She, more than any other candidate for western political office, would greatly benefit from our donations. Guatemala has found a voice in Rigoberta”

    She is one of the most rich persons in Guatemala “greatly” benefiting from your donations; her only job is to maintain the image of a desperate situation so some Non Governmental Organization can keep asking for help and of course YOUR SO MUCH APRECIATED DONATIONS… open your eyes guatemala people did not discriminate her for her race or gender; she lost because here we are very tired of her lies.

    sorry for my bad english.