Guatemala: Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez

My place will always be at the side of the widows, the women who carry the weight of racism on their shoulders.

— Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez

Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez (49) belongs to the Maya-Kaqchikel ethnic group. Orphan, wife, mother and widow, displaced and persecuted. She fights so that the Guatemalan State will admit its responsibility for the arrest, disappearance and death of thousands of Guatemalan people. She tries to overcome her terror and embraces life. She demands justice, dreams of peace, respect towards women, the well being of the indigenous people.

Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez is a Guatemalan indigenous woman who belongs to the Maya-Kaqchikel ethnic group. She is from a family of agriculturists. She is Catholic with the spirituality of her Mayan people. This woman, short in stature, carries within her the memories of the armed forces of her country committing atrocities against the indigenous people. “When I was removed from my land, when I became a widow and an orphan, I began to see the pain and suffering of the people. I was not the only one in that situation. Hundreds of thousands of families shared it. Mothers and widows joined forces searching for a solution for the conflict. We wanted to defend our children from compulsory military service, to confront the menace of the Civil Self-Defense patrols (similar to the death squadrons).” There is something terrible in all wars, “the indifference towards the most weak, towards the ones who cannot speak, towards pain and suffering.” And it is precisely this indifference that pushes Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez into militancy. “I feel happy to belong to an organization like the National Coordination of Widows of Guatemala (Conavigua) and to work for the people, for the indigenous people, even if I continue to feel afraid.” But she goes on. And she dreams “of that day when the demands of the indigenous people will be understood: the demand for respect for life, the right to their own culture, the right to be different.”

Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala (Conavigua)