II ENCUENTRO CONTINENTAL
CAMPANA CONTINENTAL 500 ANOS DE RESISTENCIA INDIGENA Y POPULAR
7-12 October 1991
Rigoberta Menchu arrives in Xelaju* (along with 100s of other delegates
from South, North and Central America) late in the evening of October 7th
to a huge and emotional welcome.
The meetings/commissions set out to consider issues of:
Human Rights/Indian Rights
Land and Life
Colonialism/Neo-colonialism and Self-determination
On October 12th we marched through the streets of Xelaju, clearly not to
honor Columbus, but to declare that this day was a day to celebrate 500
years of indigenous resistance and persistence.
The international meetings and actions which had began in the late1980s
demanded that 1992 was not to be a time to "celebrate" Columbus
and his "discovery" but a time to reexamine the truth and the
impact of the "invasion" and conquest on the indigenous peoples
and nations of the hemisphere.
Clearly, the planning and actions by indigenous organizations and solidarity
groups had a profound impact, altering the manner and level of "national"
celebrations which did occur in 1992, as they also generated a broad dialogue
on issues such as cultural contact, indigenous rights and the prevailing
This embrace and show of solidarity with Rigoberta Menchu during the march
was repeated often - it was emotional and tender - it was also a display
to the Guatemalan government and military that the people would no longer
accept the threats and intimidation - they would no longer hide their support
for the just struggle out of fear of torture or death at the hands of the
During the march we chanted "Rigoberta Menchu - Nobel Prize in 1992"
and one year later in 1992 she most deservedly was awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize - a real victory. But during this 10 day stay in Guatemala, one year
before the "official" recognition by the Nobel committee, Menchu
was in constant danger.
In the communities surrounding Xelaju - such as here in Totonicapan - cultural
programs were presented to the public, giving a strong sense of the depth
and vitality of indigenous cultural expression.
* There are a number of spellings for the indigenous name of this city which
on the map is normally designated "Quetzeltanango" - the second
largest city in Guatemala.
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