Dr. Egla Martinez-Salazar
Interrogating the Human in Human Rights Discourses: Guatemalan Maya Women, Colonial Legacies and State Repression.
Colonial racial hierarchy
|Spaniard (pure race)
|Criollos (sons and daughters of colonizers) [descendants of pure race but somehow contaminated by being born outside Europe]
|Mestizos (with some land) [polluted and inclined to vice but with modernity named Ladinos, representatives of the 'nation.'
|Landless Mestizos [lazy, liars and women 'naturally promiscuous']
|Zambos (offspring of indigenous and Black slaves)
|Indigenous men and women (pure race but inferior)
■ "Before this violence, as indigenous we were treated like pigs, we were totally humiliated. The respect and dignity we had before the Spanish was erased...with the violence if an indigenous woman was raped by the soldiers, who cared? Nobody, why? Because this poor woman was a dog for them (interview, 2002)."
Catalina: "I do not know what democracy is and never think about having rights. How could you think about it when your children barely eat, when they are sick and do not go to school?"
Dolores: "the written law keeps up with everything... it can have beautiful words about me being Indigenous person and having rights that respect my 'beautiful' clothes and my language... but tell me what is the good if this clothing and this language do not guarantee me a decent job... I cannot even find a job as a maid because gringas and ladinas who pay more cannot speak my language... so miss, written rights are beautiful but they mean nothing if you do not have food in your table and if you house is just these pieces of cardbox ..." (interview 2002).
Magdalena: "I do not understand how, if all of us have the right to live with dignity, those who were committed to fight poverty, illiteracy, and illnesses were killed? Did they have rights? Were they citizens? Were they considered humans?" (interviews, 2002).
■ ...the right to organize has been one of the most persecuted in this country; that's why millions were spent on collecting information, buying weapons, and contracting foreign killers to train those from here. That's why those with money and guns came to our town, and acted as if they were kings as they did in my town. They persecuted and killed many of us. They did this because we organized and did not ask permission.
The students, the peasants, the Catholics, many did many good things to better our lives. Many went to the mountains and fought back there...they [the army] killed those who only wanted better jobs, for decent houses, for sending our children to schools, to universities, for our right to wear our trajes and to believe in what we want to believe and to elect our own authorities (interview, 2002).
■ "How in the name of God could I talk about the rights of citizens and democracy when many have been killed, tortured, and kidnapped. I am not talking about a few here...I am talking about hundreds, thousands...perhaps we will never know how many? Where were the rights of those who believed and prayed to God for a better life and were killed by those with money and guns in the name of God...you have to tell me what rights mean? Why should I?" (interviews 2002).