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  • Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in defense of Indigenous rights in Guatemala.

    Menchu won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in defense of Indigenous rights in Guatemala. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 June 2017

Guatemala warned of legal actions in response to a Mexican cartoon that they say promotes racism against Indigenous women.

The foundation of the Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú said Saturday that a cartoon published in a Mexican newspaper that same day was racist and discriminatory against Indigenous women.

Rigoberta Menchu: Give Women Land to Build Lasting Peace

The Rigoberta Menchu Tum Foundation "expresses its strongest condemnation for being an act of discrimination and racism towards the Indigenous peoples of Guatemala and the world," the organization said in a statement.

The cartoon published in El Heraldo newspaper refers to the recent visit to Guatemala by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Peña Nieto is seen arriving home with a suitcase that says Guatemala and what appears to be the fugitive former governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte, dressed as an Indigenous Guatemalan women in traditional clothes standing behind him.

Duarte is awaiting his extradition after being detained in Guatemala and faces charges of organized crime, racketeering and corruption

A figure of a seagull, which is also the nickname of the Mexican first lady Angelica Rivera, leaves her pink heels and purse on the couch and looks tired as she asks: "I still do not understand why we had to go so far ... for a lady who will do the cleaning."

Menchu won the Nobel prize in 1992 "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples." She grew up during the country's bloody 36-year civil war, which left over 200,000 mostly Indigenous Guatemalans dead, and tens of thousands tortured and disappeared, in what the U.N. had labeled a genocide. Menchu's brother, mother and father were all murdered by the Guatemalan military. Her foundation demanded that the Interamerican Press Association condemn and sanction the newspaper to set a historical precedent.

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"It is a shame that in the name of humor or freedom of expression as some people think, racism and discrimination are justified, and serious and responsible journalism is denigrated," the foundation said.

The Foundation created by the Nobel prize winner in 1992 demanded that the Interamerican Press Association condemns and sanctions the newspaper to set a historical precedent.

According to the foundation, this cartoon "reflects the perverse and dangerous imagery that people and groups have maintained for centuries to justify and impose a dominant culture, which seeks to make invisible the richness and ancestral values that the Indigenous peoples of Guatemala present with dignity."

Even so, the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry said yesterday the cartoon shows "a serious lack of respect and a clear discriminatory and racist message" and announced possible legal actions.

The Mexican newspaper published an apology letter on its website after the outrage and backlash the cartoon provoked on social media.

"El Heraldo of Mexico apologizes to all those people who have felt offended by this cartoon and particularly with the Chapina nation and its people," the newspaper wrote. "Our publishing house, and who we work in it, have been and will continue to be inclusive, plural, and above all respectful of all people regardless of their nationality, social status, beliefs, and preferences."

Also, the cartoonist Juan Alarcon, gave an explanation on his Twitter account. "For Guatemala all my love and respect. My cartoon in El Heraldo Mexico is a critic to three characters of Mexican politics. To no one else."

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