In honor of International Women’s Day, I’d like to highlight Rigoberta Menchú Tum, an indigenous Guatemalan woman who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1992 for raising awareness of the genocide in Guatemala and helping Guatemalans (especially indigenous Mayans) to defend themselves.
It’s important to point out that according to the United Nations’ Historical Clarifications Committee, the United States and several U.S. corporations (most notably United Fruit and Coca-Cola) were complicit in the killings of over 200,000 native Guatemalans. U.S. agencies were found to have lent direct financial support to the state-sponsored killings, as well as arms support and training.
In the mid-1950s, both United Fruit and Coca Cola pressured the U.S. government to stage a ClA-directed coup that overthrew President Jacobo Arbenz. This action put an end to the first democratically elected president in Guatemalan history and set in motion the civil war that followed.
Despite the rhetoric, not everything that the U.S. does abroad is in the efforts of promoting peace, freedom, and democracy. It is our responsibility to criticize the things we most cherish, including and especially our government, in order to first: recognize the darker moments of our history for what they were (and are, as discourses), second: demand that we justify the things we do, and third (thank you, Luis): amend our wrongs.