Rosalina Tuyuc Velásquez – Guatemala

Linked with our presentation of Conavigua, the ‘Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala’. And linked with our Humanitarian Text: ‘Linking Gender, Food Security and the Environment‘.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “”In order to guarantee the achievement of food security, it is necessary to combat the current disparities, since there are a lot of people who get sick or die because they eat a lot, and on the other hand there are millions who die because they do not have enough food.” (see FAO.org, 2002).

She says also: “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 – Guatemala

She works for Conavigua, Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala.

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 woman of maize, oak and fire. A member of the Maya-Kaqchikel ethnic group, she speaks Spanish and Kiché. She belongs to a religious agricultural family. She lives with the spirituality of the Mayans “thanks to the wisdom of the elders”.

She began to fight for human rights in response to “the atrocities committed by the army against the indigenous communities and for feeling the pain inside myself because of the loss of members of my family”,she recounts.
Heiress to the vital force of her ancestors and a product of a great culture that has persisted through the ages, Rosalina has been a member of the Christian Movement since her youth, as well as a member of women’s groups and handcraft, agriculture and animal breeding cooperatives. She worked as a teacher of the Christian doctrine and as an auxiliary nurse. She became one of the internally displaced people at the time of the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996).

Her father, Francisco Javier Tuyuc cured the sick, and never charged for his services to the community. Besides that, he was a music teacher. He was kidnapped. “Along with him, seven other people disappeared. They put them in the back of an army truck and took them to a military base. My father was tortured and crucified.”
Her husband, Rolando Gómez, was kidnapped on May 24th, 1985. “He was probably captured on his way to work. The last time I heard of him was when members of G-2 (Military Intelligence) came to my house, saying that he was alive and that he needed to talk to the children and to me. They wanted us to go to the military detachment in Cobán (Alta Verapaz province). It was not the truth”.

As a result of the disappearance of her father and her husband, she promised herself she would renounce her social involvement, because “the price we paid was too high. But since we are born, we all have a duty and a gift to serve the community”. So when she saw the conviction and commitment of the many uneducated women who still had hope of stopping the war, she once again got involved in the popular movement. She took on the challenge of being the spokeswoman of the National Coordination of Widows of Guatemala. She has been its general coordinator since 1988.
Among other posts, she has also been a member of the Coordination Table of the Continental Meeting, which represents “500 years of Indigenous, Afro-descendent and Popular Resistance ”, coordinator of the Support Committee for the Nobel Peace Prize for Rigoberta Menchú Tum (a prize that was granted in 1992), founder of the Coordination of Organizations of the Mayan People and an adviser to the government in her capacity as member of the Mayan political organization Maya Nukuj Ajpop. Among other positions, she has been a leading member of the Forum for Women in Political Parties, of the Commission for the Strengthening of Justice, a deputy of the National Congress and a magistrate in the first Court of Conscience of the Women of Guatemala.

Short in stature, Rosalia is igrand when she talks: “We indigenous women have been criticized for not being able to cope with public administration, even though we have seen people with doctorates sink the country. It is good to have an academic education, but morally, ethically and spiritually, we surpass the politicians”. And her smile curves like a cob of corn.
She regrets not having recovered the remains of her father. “In the family’s mind, the possibility of finding them is always alive.” When the army vacated the military detachment in Comalapa (municipality of the Chimaltenango province), “they disinterred about five trucks filled with bones that had been left in a nearby ravine. For me, that base is still a place of torture. Not finding the remains of our relatives is part of the history of all the disappearances”.
In 1993 the army accepted, tacitly, the responsibility of the kidnapping of her husband. In spite of that, “they wanted to take away the legitimacy of our fight to defend the young people against compulsory military service”.

Sorrow is part of the furrow that she ploughs. Tears well up in her eyes. “Although my children were very small, they still miss their father. They always ask questions: ‘Mother, have they found him? Have you found my grandfather?’ Life is irreplaceable. A husband or a father leaves forever. No one can replace his affection, his love, his advice”.
The compensation to the victims of repression has implications for thousands of lives and for the culture of the indigenous people in all its economic, material, psychological and sociological aspects. It is a matter of dignifying the memory of the people. “We can never put a price on the lives of our loved ones, but we can ask for economic support for the elders and the widows, because they live in complete desolation”.
“If the state was responsible for the destruction of families, for the separation of loved ones, they must compensate, they must some how repair this loss. The victims want to know the truth. Where are the bones? Where were they buried? If they were thrown into the sea, they must admit it! They must tell us if they can never be found, if they were left in clandestine cemeteries!”

She tells us of her memories and her dreams: “I dream that our children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to live in a different country, and that they will be respected. Our grandfathers and grandmothers were not respected. We, the ones that are still alive, have the commitment to contribute to the change of human sensibility. If we dream of a different world, we must admit what historically happened and take responsibility for it. We cannot allow the crimes to go unpunished forever. We cannot close all our wounds, but we can live together with our sorrow and we can join together in demanding that the State accept its obligation to fulfill its duty. It must accept responsibility for our tragedy and guarantee the application of justice”.
A promise for the future: “We will reach peace when the innocence of all the people who were murdered is recognized. I believe in peace. Strength is in knowing the truth, so that the disappearances, the arbitrary arrests, the massacres and the genocide will not happen again. I believe in the strength of respect, in human beings and in their conscience, in the ability of a country to create a different world”.
(Read all this on this page of 1000peacewomen).

links:

FAO / side event photos;

Informations on Guatemala;


The world factbook/Guatemala
;

spanish links:

AMNISTÍA INTERNACIONAL;

aaas.org;

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