Rigoberta Menchu

A. Interpretation of I, Rigoberta Menchu An essay in response to: There has been a limited nuclear war. The only surviving document that deals with Guatemala between 1960 and 1983 is I, Rigoberta Menchú. Based on this testimony, answer the following question: By the late 1970s and early 1980s, why did many Guatemalan Indians, including Rigoberta Menchú, come to oppose their own government to the extent that they passively or actively supported guerrilla groups that took up arms against the government? Some say the autobiography of Rigoberta Menchú is a story of coming to consciousness: consciousness of what, and how and why did this happen in Menchú’s life?

Late 1970s and early 1980s witnessed assertive oppositions to Guatemalan government by once passive Guatemalan Indians through their support of guerrilla groups. Such support sprouted as a result of successful revolt against injustice they faced through use of weapons and traps. The injustice, implicated by the government, was a long practiced system, which drew two lines of discrimination - first, between the Indians and the ladinos; and second, between the poor and the rich. These forms of discrimination were easily maintained because of language barrier between the ladinos and the Indians, as well as, among the Indian groups themselves. As state was governed by rich, Spanish-speaking ladinos, the Indians, who spoke another language, had no access to state affairs and hence were easily exploited and trapped in the same system of government without means to change. It is through realization of practice of this injustice - the coming of consciousness - that Indians become outraged and organize themselves, initiating a revolutionary movement. The coming of consciousness brought many changes in the ideologies of Guatemalan Indians. Prior to coming of consciousness, Indians accepted hunger, poverty and death as their fate. They saw hardship as an aspect of life, in which life itself was suffering. This ideology...

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