Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Born: 9 January 1959, Aldea Chimel, Guatemala
Residence at the time of the award: Guatemala
Prize motivation: "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples"
Field: human rights
Prize share: 1/1
In 1992 the western world celebrated that it was 500 years since Columbus reached America. In the same year, the Guatemalan Indian woman Rigoberta Menchú was awarded the Peace Prize for her work for the rights of indigenous peoples and reconciliation between ethnic groups. She had been nominated by Indian organizations, who wanted to draw attention to the fact that the European discovery of America had entailed the extermination and suppression of indigenous populations.
Rigoberta grew up in a country marked by extreme violence. Several members of her own family were killed by the army, which was hunting down opponents of the regime. She herself fled to Mexico in the early 1980s, where she came into contact with European groups that were working for human rights in Latin America. With time, Rigoberta began to favor a policy of reconciliation with the authorities, and Norway served as the intermediary in negotiations between the government and the guerrilla organizations. A peace agreement was signed in 1996. Rigoberta Menchú herself became a UN Ambassador for the world's indigenous peoples.