The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Friday, November 07, 2003

A word from Rigoberta Menchu...

Just to put the tin lid on the Bolivian insurrection - in Spanish and English translation.

From the icon of gringo indigenophiles everywhere, it's the usual bollocks squared, of course.

Then, slowly, a factoid seemed to signal its prescence somewhere in the mental attic (a space less commodious than unfathomable!): there was something about the woman...

It was in that (personally) strange era when stuff was online but I wasn't. Most of the material is now secreted behind pay-walls and guarded by robots.txt Cerberuses. However, the bones of the story are, thankfully, available gratis.

This page of links is a useful place to start. Recording her as the winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize, it also links to a 1999 Salon piece by David Horowitz, following up on the book by David Stoll which takes apart the autobiography on which her fame depended I, Rigoberta Menchu and fingers her as a fraud and fabulist - Jayson Blair, only much, much more sucessful.

The book, says Horowitz,
was actually written by a French leftist, Elisabeth Burgos-Debray, 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

Well, well - small world!

Stoll wore out shoe-leather in the good old journalistic tradition, and found that the story failed to check out on an epic scale.

And while Walter Duranty may have his Pulitzer snatched back, there's no suggestion Menchu might lose her Nobel, that I can see.

There is one review of the Stoll book online which outlines evidence supposedly refuting Stoll's factual claims. But there are no materials online to make any serious attempt at determining who might be right.

(Given the nature of the case, it's surprising how little there is on Menchu all round.)

There's a Marxist analysis (PDF) of the dispute (p14a); and a piece by an engagé American journo who had met Menchu, which adopts a confession and avoidance technique, claiming Menchu's account had a representative, if not literal, truth.

These days, of course, the whole thing would have been blogged up hill and down dale...

Oh, and the woman's maiden name is Tum.

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