Letter to the author of I, Rigoberta Menchu

Johana Garcia

Dear Rigoberta Menchu:
I have recently read your autobiography I, Rigoberta Menchu, in which your portrayed as an oppressed yet ultimately triumphant victim of classism, racism, colonialism, and of course sexism. In your book you talk about your family, a Quiche Indian family, which was very poor. The small plot of land that the family owned did not produce enough to feed everyone. Life on a plantation was harsh.

People lived in crowded sheds with no clean water or toilets. Your people, the native Indians in Guatemala had no rights of citizenship. You were restricted to people of Spanish descent and were, therefore, vulnerable to abuses by those in power.

"We are living in a troubled world, in a time of great uncertainty. It's a time to reflect about many things, especially about humankind as a whole, and the balance between collective and individual values". This is something you have mentioned and something that I completely agree with. Indigenous people are among the most victims of terrible incomprehensible repression and violation of the law in many parts of the world.

The atrocities that you wrote about in your book are both compelling and heartbreaking. Though, I have not limited myself there, I have investigated further your story. I searched the Internet several times about your book, story, and life what I found amazed me. I read articles stating that your book I, Rigoberta Menchu is falsely chronicled.

"A recounted in your autobiography, the story of Rigoberta Menchu is the stuff of classic Marxist myth. According to your book you came from a poor Mayan family, living on margins of a country from which had been dispossessed by Spanish conquistadors. Their descendents, known as Ladinos, try to drive the Menchus and other Indian peasants off claimed land that they had cultivated. As said in your book, you are illiterate and were kept from having an education by your peasant father, Vicente. He refuses to send you to school because he needs to work in the fields, and because he is afraid that the school will turn his daughter against him. From the articles I found on the Internet it has been proven that you went to a private institution, and that your family wasn't as poor as to the point of starvation.

You make these linkages explicit: "My personal experience is the reality of a whole people". It is a call to people of good will all over the world to help the noble but powerless indigenous peoples of Guatemala and other Third World countries to gain their rightful inheritance. I must agree with that statement. Even if that wasn't your actual life experience, even if you're lying; you're telling the truth. The claimed fabrications are unimportant, because it manages to focus on the genuine human rights cruelty that occurred in Guatemala and still present.

It is nevertheless necessary to recognize that, in some countries, the indigenous peoples are flourishing. We need the diversity of more participation of the youth, of the aged population, of different people, in order to construct and develop a future. You have played a major role to these indigenous people, as well as informing people around the world that such brutalities still occur in third world countries. I guess that one solution that you've even mentioned is to educate people. "Solutions will come when the world becomes educated about global values, the common values of its inhabitants and communities.

Johana Garcia