Guatemala: Rigoberta Menchu announces presidential bid

1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, a defender of Guatemala’s Maya people during the genocide of the late 1970s and ’80s, will run in the nation’s September presidential election with the Juntos por Guatemala (Together for Guatemala) party and Winaq, a new coalition of indigenous leaders. If elected, she will be Latin America’s first indigenous woman head-of-state.

“We want to give hope to young people and women, not only women in Guatemala but women all over the world who have waited a long time for a chance to participate,” Menchu told reporters at a press conference in the garden of her home in the outskirts of Guatemala City.

Menchu made the announcement with the founder and head of Juntos por Guatemala, congress member Nineth Montenegro, who entered politics after her husband was tortured and murdered by the Guatemalan army in 1984. (Reuters, Feb. 22, via GLADU)

If elected, Menchu may have to govern with accused war criminal José Efraín Rios Montt serving in Guatemala’s congress. Rios Montt, architect of the genocide when he was dictator in the early ’80s, announced he is considering a candidacy earlier this year. (Amnesty International, Jan. 18) In 1999, Menchu brought genocide charges against Rios Montt and the late Gen. Romeo Garcia Lucas in the Spanish courts.

See our last post on Guatemala and Central America.