Guatemala: Views On Indigenous People

Much of the Guatemalan population descends from indigenous origins, in whole or part. Only a small minority comes from a different racial origin. That's why the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People released on September 13 is so relevant for the country. However, of higher concern is the expressions and views of “indigenous” and racism from Guatemalan bloggers.

Lucia Escobar republished part of her newspaper artcle on her blog Luchas Libres y Mas [ES] and points out:

Aunque el papel todo lo aguanta y del dicho al hecho hay un gran trecho, celebro la Declaración sobre derechos de pueblos indígenas parida recientemente por Doña Naciones Unidas. ¿Cuántos años tardaron los estados para ver a los pueblos indígenas del mundo y reconocer que no son atrasados, ni salvajes sino sólo diferentes? ¿Cuánto tiempo más pasará para que respete esa diferencia? ¿Y cuánto para valorar el enorme aporte en justicia, ciencia, arte, ecología, espiritualidad, medicina que desde hace cientos de años y hasta el día de hoy empapa con sabiduría milenaria el planeta?

Even though you can write anything on paper, however from words to action there is a great distance, I celebrate the UN Declaration of rights of indigenous people, released recently by Lady United Nations. How long did it take for the nations to see the indigenous peoples of the World and recognize that they are not underdeveloped or savages, only different? How long it will take to respect the differences? And how many years will it take to value the enormous contributions on justice, science, art, ecology, spirituality, and medicine over the past hundred years that they gave, and up until now they provide millenarian wisdom to the planet?

Racism and indigenous peoples rights have been discussed recently on Guatemalan blogs, especially the 7th place finish of Rigoberta Menchu, the only indigenous presidential candidate. As Carpe Diem [ES] pointed out in Preguntas que hay que hacer:

En Uspantán, Quiché, la tierra de Rigoberta Menchú, sólo 268 de 9655 votos válidos fueron para la Premio Nobel de a Paz y dirigente indigenista. ¿Será que allá son racistas?

In Uspantán, Quiché, the land where Rigoberta Menchu was born, only 268 de 9655 of the votes were for the Nobel Peace Prize winner and indigenous leader. ¿Are they racist for that fact?

On the other hand, for some bloggers, it is positive to have indigenous candidates, Jorge Cabrera discussed the results on his blog [ES]:

Esto puede parecer negativo pero a mi criterio es incluso bueno, por años ha habido gente que en Menchú han ido a descargar en voz baja con críticas, rumores y chistes de salón sus sentimientos hacia el indígena y con estas elecciones han aprovechado para decirlo un poco mas alto …. Muestras de estos comentarios pueden encontrar muchas en internet

This may seem to be negative but in my opinion it is good, for years there have been people that expressed via Menchu, with a hushed voice, critiques, rumors, and jokes regarding their real feelings and perceptions towards indigenous people, and with the elections they took advantage and said things louder … You can see samples of such comments on the internet.

Some blame racism, other gender issues and a modest campaign for Menchu's results, but the “issue” is the assumption that only because someone is from a certain ethnic origin, then one has to vote for a candidate of the same racial group. Is that perception racist?

On his blog guatemalalahistoria [ES], the author said:

En Guatemala hay racismo y hay discriminación racial para el indio, pero no hay lucha de razas, ni discriminación racial para los indivudios de raza nativa que ya no son indios. La discriminación racial, entre nosotros, es un fenómeno ideológico, de súper estructura, que responde a la lucha de clases y opera solamente en función de ella.

There are racism and racial discrimination against the indigenous in Guatemala, but there are not confrontation between racial groups, or racial discrimination for those natives who are not indios- The racial discrimination is an ideological phenomenon, of a suprerstructure, that corresponds to the confrontation between economic groups and works according to it.

Racism and social classes, in a divided society is a subject frequently discussed on blogs. One sample comes from the blog Antología del Desengaño [ES] on his post Guatemala de clase:

Guatemala todavía es un país clasista. Se manejan muchos estereotipos caducos y prejuicios absurdos. Claro que en este país, se debe encajar dentro de un molde para pertenecer a él. De allí que se crea que todas las personas que estén tatuadas sean delincuentes. O que los canchitos son más inteligentes que cualquiera.

Guatemala is still a classist country. Here you can find several invalid stereotypes and absurd prejudices. It is clear that in this country you must fit into a mold in order to belong to it. From such molds, people believe that anyone with a tattoo is a criminal. Or that people with blond hair are smarter than anyone else.

In contrast with votes divided by regions, and opinions divided on ethnic issues, these days the divided is for once united. They are voting for one candidate, not for the next President, but for the next Latin American Idol.

Many bloggers write about it with enthusiasm and all the media are taking advantage of it. The fans are using their own blog CARLOS PEÑA FANS [ES] to support him, as they said about the site

1er. Blog (hecho en Guatemala) del artista Guatemalteco que está haciendo la diferencia en latinoamérica con su voz y su talento.

First blog made in Guatemala of a Guatemalan artist, who is making the difference in Latin America with his voice and talent.

This boy has received the attention and sympathy of all sectors, rich, poor, indigenous, non-indigenous, leftists. It is also becasue of the attention of the media, the space provided by the printed press, on TV, on the radio, by private investors, and companies. The case is presented to show that the media in Guatemala can demonstrate to all sectors of society that even when there are huge differences and scars from the past, they can agree in some point, even when is just a TV contest.


  • El reconocimiento de los derechos de los indígenos es un granito de arena, un paso adelante, después de tantos años de olvido. Las generaciones futuras puede que consigan avanzar un poco más. Me solidarizo con los pueblos indígenas.

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