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  HOME | Central America

Thelma Cabrera Seeking to Recover Indigenous Values in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY – Thelma Cabrera – as an indigenous woman, peasant and human rights defender – is a key leader in Guatemala’s social mobilizations and now is seeking to become the country’s first female and first indigenous president, promising to implement a complete reform of the state based on the “Good Life” and on the values of the original peoples, who she says have been discriminated against and forgotten.

She is someone who has spent decades fighting against stigmas in a racist and discriminatory country, and she is a founding member of the Peasant Development Committee (Codeca), saying that her party – the Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples (MLP), an assembly-based grouping, “is not owned by anyone” and that it is the indigenous peoples who will determine what to enact laws on.

“We, the peoples, have to discuss what it is that we want, what we have to design to create that good life in harmony and solidarity,” she said in an interview with EFE, adding that her ancestors, her grandparents displayed good customs and values but “those things have been lost” and now it the time to begin to recover them.

That is the way she was selected to be the MLP’s presidential candidate, via the communities of the Xinca, Garifuna and Maya peoples.

To start with, she proposes to create a Constitutional and Plurinational Popular Assembly that draft a new constitution in which everyone will be taken into account and where “our rights (will be) established.”

“They never consulted us when they made the political Constitution what political, collective and individual rights we wanted,” she said, going on to admit that this dialogue process in which she intends to include all sectors and peoples in Guatemala, will be complicated but all these are steps that will be taken “jointly with the people” to design the Good Life.

What is this Good Life? Namely, the mechanism whereby all Guatemalans can acquire a high-quality education and an efficient healthcare system, the same opportunities, full respect for their labor rights, basic services such as water, electricity, transportation and telephone, a healthy environment that provides spaces for recreation and leisure and a productive economy in harmony with Mother Earth.

This concept is ancient. It prevailed in, and regulated life in, the pre-Columbian societies and he a moral and political legacy from Guatemalans’ ancestors.

Cabrera and the MLP want to establish it as the guiding principle among human beings and with nature.

Various actions will have to be undertaken to create the appropriate social, political and legal conditions to bring about the Good Life, including changing the country’s political procedures and structure.

Although the MLP defines itself as a political project of the peasant class, it also says that it is open to all other social classes, peoples and sectors that have historically been excluded from the national conversation.

The colors of the MLP, Cabrera explains, are red for the blood of martyrs, blue for the country’s volcanoes and Mother Earth and yellow for the new dawn.

Cabrera is a bold woman, and although she has no university degree or achievements in that area, she said that she has acquired “much knowledge in the university of life,” adding that it is still possible to prevent Guatemala from becoming a “failed state” and it is an obligation of all “good Guatemalans” to recover the country’s dignity.

According to voter surveys, Cabrera is currently in fifth place among the several presidential contenders as the first round of the presidential vote approaches on June 16.

 

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