Monday, January 09, 2012

January 9, 1959: Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Rigoberta Menchú Tum, authorial fraudster, recipient of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize, given "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples".

Her prize is based in part on her 1987 autobiography I, Rigoberta Menchú. Several years later anthropologist David Stoll conducted a series of interviews with Menchú's former acquaintances for a follow-up book. During this time he claimed to have discovered that her account was largely fabricated. Specifically, Menchú was not self-taught (she received a middle-school education) and the land dispute in which her father was killed was with family members, not the government. She even described, movingly, witnessing the death by starvation of a brother who in fact died years before she was born. No steps have been taken by the Nobel Committee to revoke Menchú's award.

The 'autobiography' was was in fact written by a French leftist, Elisabeth Burgos-Debray, left-wing Venezuelan anthropologist and wife of Marxist Regis Debray, "who provided the foco strategy for Che Guevara's failed effort to foment a guerrilla war in Bolivia in the 1960s", according to well-known conservative author and columnist, David Horowitz ('I, Rigoberta Menchú, liar').

Her defenders claim that any dishonesties are offset by the overarching importance of her tale of US-funded Guatemalan suppression of the Indian people.

Menchú's response to her critics: she suggests that their charges should be dismissed as political, while falsehoods in her account should be forgiven … because they're political.
Her own excuse when confronted : "It tells my personal testimony, but it also has parts of the testimony of the collectiveness of Guatemala. For common people such as myself, there is no difference between testimony, biography, and autobiography."

I, Rigoberta Menchú : An Indian Woman in Guatemala by Rigoberta Menchú

Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans
Hoaxes and Frauds, at Wilson's Almanac


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