12 Most Influential People in the History of Latin America

Edward Gibbon once said, “History is the register of the follies, crimes, and misfortunes of mankind.” You might think he was exaggerating. But Gibbon, the most prominent world historian, was not bluffing.

If history is nothing but a record of crimes and follies, Latin American History does not break this rule. It is filled with heroes but also with sadistic personalities. Generals, presidents, monks, philosophers, priests, revolutionaries, ministers, and dictators have built, with their actions and ideas, what is now considered Latin America.

Growing up in Latin America, I often heard the names of these historical figures. Later, I understood that if some Latinos have kept certain ideals, it might be due to the actions of some of these figures, whose legacy has endured over the centuries. All lists are always unfair. But, in our opinion, here is the list of the 12 most influential people in Latin American history.

Bartolome de las Casas

Bartolome de las Casas

It is said that lies abound everywhere, but the truth is always hard to find. This maxim applies perfectly to Bartolome de Las Casas. During Spanish colonization, everyone praised the feats of the Spaniards, who brought civilization and Catholicism to the natives. However, nobody clearly recognized the atrocities natives were exposed to. Torture, rape, forced labor, mutilation, and slavery wound up decimating the native population. In Mexico, 9 out of 10 natives died; in Peru, the population declined from 7 to 1 million.

The only one who saw this genocide was the Dominican monk Bartolome de las Casas. A member of the first European settlement, De las Casas eventually reviled the actions of their countrymen. In 1542, he wrote a book called “A Short Account of the Destruction of Indians.” In addition to describing the Spaniard’s atrocities, De las Casas contended that natives were as equally human as Europeans and deserved respect. Everyone thought he was insane. Due to his unpopular stance, he was forced to move back to Europe. His book, which nobody read then, is now considered an essential text in Latin American History.

Tupac Amaru II

Tupac Amaru II

His real name was Jose Gabriel Condorcanqui. A descendant of the last Inca ruler, Tupac Amaru was an Indian nobleman. He was so wealthy, cultivated, and charming that he mingled with many Colonial officials. When the Inca Empire was conquered, the Spaniards implemented the vice-royalty. The vice-royalty was a system of the colonial government that covered most of the South American territory. The territory was divided by Spanish lords who owned various mines, fields, and textile mills. Natives were forced to work in these places and pay heavy taxes. Thousands of them fell sick and died in the most awful conditions.

Tupac Amaru grew tired of observing the daily suffering imposed upon his people. He began to petition the authorities to alleviate Indian oppression. After being ignored repeatedly, he decided to revolt. Tupac Amaru began speaking about independence, freedom, and human dignity. Most Indians loved him and considered him a savior. Tupac Amaru then managed to gather an army of 6,000 soldiers. His rebellion had some minor victories, but he was captured by the Royal Army in 1781. He was forced to watch the execution of his wife and children. He was then beheaded.

Jose de San Martin

The Revolution of Tupac Amaru failed because it was led by an Indian minority. A century later, creoles (descendants of European settlers) also felt oppressed by the Spanish Crown. Due to Spanish intransigence, these organizations emerged and organized a revolt. In 1810, Argentinian General Jose de San Martin led the South American struggle. After liberating Argentina, San Martin’s army marched to Chile and defeated the Spanish troops at the battle of Maipu. Right after, San Martin headed to Peru, a place in which the Royal Army kept a fierce regiment. Upon hearing news of his arrival, the Royal Army fled.

Jose de San Martin then declared the Independence of Peru in 1821 and abolished the servitude of the Indians. San Martin was officially appointed as “the Protector” of Peru. In the meantime, San Martin’s troops were reduced considerably. He soon found out that the Royal Army was preparing to attack him. This time, San Martin knew he would be unable to defeat them. This is why he contacted General Simon Bolivar. Bolivar had been leading a liberating campaign in Venezuela.

Simon Bolivar

Simon Bolivar was born in Venezuela into a wealthy household. After being educated in Europe, he returned to his homeland. Having dreams of liberation, Bolivar designed a plan to crush the Spanish rule. Bolivar assembled a powerful cavalry and, after a formidable campaign, liberated Venezuela in 1821. He stated his “Decree of War to the Death,” in which he swore to kill any Spaniard who opposed the liberation movement. Marching down south, Bolivar then founded the Republic of Gran Colombia and became its president. From there, he launched independence campaigns in Ecuador, Panama, Colombia, etc.

In 1822, Bolivar held a meeting with Jose de San Martin, Protector of Peru and liberator of Chile and Argentina. Bolivar convinced Jose de San Martin to renounce his post. Assuming the reins in an official manner, Bolivar confronted and defeated the Royal Army stationed in the surroundings. In 1825, Bolivar liberated the southern territory of Peru and founded a Republic. The country was named after his name, “Bolivia”. At one point, Bolivar had control of the entire South American territory. His design was to form a Great Latin American Union, emulating that of the United States. But dissensions in all jurisdictions broke out. At this stage, there was nothing he could do. Upon the imminent dissolution, Bolivar suggested that Gran Colombia be divided into three states: Ecuador, Venezuela, and Colombia.

Bolivar was Hugo Chavez’s most revered icon. But Bolivar was a contradictory character. He valued independence and autonomy but welcomed foreign investors who subscribed to open trade. Bolivar was also friendly towards Britain and sought to establish alliances with them. Besides, one of Bolivar’s favorite books was Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations”. In a way, Bolivar favored capitalism. This might be the reason why Karl Marx, the greatest intellectual figure of the left, despised Simon Bolivar. Marx said of Bolivar that he is a “falsifier, deserter, conspirator, liar, coward, looter, and false liberator.” What would Hugo Chavez have said about this?

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro

Educated by the Jesuits in a private school in Havana, Fidel Castro was not a good student. Instead, Castro excelled at sports and acquired a competitive streak. Contenders feared playing against him. He was difficult and never accepted a defeat. The game never ended until his team got ahead or at least was tied. Castro had the same approach to life.” I almost always fix things so I win,” he said once. Studying law at the University of Havana, Castro became critical of the U.S. imperialist rule in the Caribbean. Participating in various rallies, he soon received various death threats. He carried a gun around the university halls. A devout reader of Marx and Lenin, Castro was persuaded that Capitalism was evil. He then planned to overthrow Cuba’s president, Fulgencio Batista. After a failed attempt, he was imprisoned for a year.

When released, Castro traveled to Mexico and founded a revolutionary group. A year later, he settled in Sierra Maestra, Cuba, with only 82 people. Assembling a peasant army, they had successive victories. Staging successful attacks on government garrisons, the guerrilla eventually overthrew Batista. A one-party socialist state was then established, and Castro became the leader. The new regime executed hundreds of people involved with the ousted government. Later, Castro formed an alliance with Russia. Cuba, a little Caribbean Island, almost caused a nuclear war. Under Castro’s request, Russian President Nikita Khrushchev agreed to deploy nuclear missiles to Cuba. The Cuban Missile Crisis, a crucial event in the Cold War, was resolved with an agreement between Khrushchev and Kennedy.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba became isolated. In those difficult times, Fidel Castro’s only ally was “U.S. most wanted Terrorist” Nelson Mandela. Against all odds, Castro’s love for the African continent prevailed. Even at its worst stage, Cuba kept sending troops to Angola and Namibia, countries that were liberating themselves from foreign powers.

Over the last decades, Castro imposed reforms in education and health care. These brought great results. Cuba’s literacy rate is currently as high as Denmark’s, the most educated country in the world. In healthcare, Cuban life expectancy is higher than that of the United States, and their child mortality rate is also lower than the U.S. Also, Cuban medicine is highly regarded all over Latin America.

But these achievements were gained at an awful price: the loss of freedom. Cuba’s government, besides being poor, is extremely repressive and has heavy censorship. It is estimated that 33,000 political executions happened only between 1958 and 1987. Overall, the Cuban Revolution was obtained (and maintained) at the price of genocide. Castro’s revolutionary dreams vanished when confronted by reality.

Ernesto “Che” Guevara

Ernesto Guevara was going to live a peaceful life as a doctor in Argentina. But one day, he decided to travel to the rest of South America. The repercussions of such a choice are still felt nowadays. If traveling is the best education, Guevara learned painful lessons. He was devastated by the misery, hunger, and disease he found in all the countries he visited. This 20-day- trip transformed him, and he quit medical school. He viewed Latin America as a unit that was exploited by the “Capitalist Octopuses” of the U.S. His only way to change such misery was through political activism. After further travels, Guevara grew more radicalized. He was convinced that the only way to defeat the U.S. and all foreign powers was through armed struggle.

Guevara didn’t notice how often he said the word “che” (an Argentinian diminutive of the word “Brother”). His listeners nicknamed him after that: Che Guevara. If destiny joins the paths of those who think alike, then it is natural that Guevara met Fidel Castro. They met casually during a dinner held by one of their common friends. Castro and Guevara were so congenial that they talked nonstop until the next morning. Recalling that meeting, Castro said: “Guevara was a more advanced revolutionary than I was.”

A year later, they fought together in the Cuban Sierra Maestra until they obtained a final victory. The Revolution was accomplished. Guevara believed that “a human life was worth more than the richest properties in the world.” However, his reputation for being bloodthirsty solidified when he executed hundreds of Cubans. At this time, he was praised by intellectual luminaries like Simon De Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

But Guevara was restless. Taking heed of the oppressed nations around the world, he opted to keep on fighting. Guevara traveled to Congo, Africa, to assist the guerrillas in the ongoing conflict. But he was disappointed by their lack of organization. There was a better opportunity to ignite a revolution in South America. Guevara then traveled to Bolivia and enlisted an army of 50 men.

Settling in the dry forests, Guevara’s contingent sporadically attacked some army bases. Having analyzed the Bolivian Army, Guevara was confident he would win. What he did not know was that the U.S. had sent special Army forces that specialized in jungle warfare. The U.S. forces trained, supplied, and advised the Bolivian soldiers. In addition, most Bolivian peasants, intimidated by the authorities, refused to join Guevara’s army. Affected by severe asthma, Guevara made judgmental errors in his warfare tactics. The Bolivian Army ambushed his camp, and he was arrested.

Guevara believed that it was better to die standing than to live on his knees. So, even when he was handcuffed, he displayed a fierce attitude. He almost fought a Bolivian soldier and spat another one in the face. The direct order from the Bolivian Army was to execute him. Hours before his death, he was asked if he believed in immortality. Guevara replied he didn’t care, that he only cared for “the immortality of the revolution.” Guevara was shot nine times. He died at 39 years old.

Jean-Paul Sartre, the greatest philosopher of the past century, was impressed when he met Guevara. Sartre was struck by Guevara’s wisdom and said that “every one of his phrases was a gold mine.” Upon hearing news of his death, Sartre wrote, “Guevara is the era’s most perfect man..he spoke his own words, lived his own actions and his story and the story of the world ran parallel…he was not only an intellectual, but also the most complete human being of our age.”

Rafael Trujillo

Rafael Trujillo, “the Generalissimo,” was a former Dominican dictator. As a soldier, he was trained by the U.S. Marines and impressed his recruiters. Due to his outstanding qualities, Trujillo was easily promoted: he turned from lieutenant to Commander in Chief in only nine years. Later in life, Trujillo attributed his success to his “harsh discipline.” His energy was also legendary: he only needed three hours of sleep every night. In 1930, Trujillo ran as a presidential candidate. There were other better political candidates on the ballot, but Trujillo quickly sent them death threats. On the election day, he was the only candidate standing. This is how General Trujillo gained the election, taking 99 percent of the votes. He assumed power in 1931. From then on, his authoritarian regime imprisoned and murdered all his political opponents.

Trujillo was a rarity in the Caribbean. While the rest of the Latin America rejected U.S. imperialism, he did the opposite. He established diplomatic ties with the U.S. and backed their foreign policy. During World War II, Dominican Republic was the only Latin American country that supported the Allies. Trujillo also opened the Dominican markets to foreign investment. His countrymen then enjoyed a healthy economy under his rule.

But this progress was overshadowed by his brutality. His regime is considered one the bloodiest in the Americas. Dominicans feared him, and statues of “the Generalissimo” were erected all over the country. Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, was renamed “Trujillo City.”

Hiring a cunning man named Johnny Abbes as his Intelligence Officer, Trujillo murdered all his opponents. His regime murdered over 50,000 people. Some of his victims were thrown over to the sharks to be devoured alive. Not content with that, Trujillo sent hitmen all over the world to assassinate his critics. Former Venezuelan president Romulo Betancourt was almost killed by Trujillo’s clan. A tyrant and a racist, Trujillo despised the Haitians who came to his country searching for jobs. Angered by that, he decided to get rid of them. In the “Parsley Massacre,” Dominican soldiers murdered 30,000 Haitians.

Trujillo had an insatiable lust for women, and he supported many young mistresses. Testing the loyalty of the members of his cabinet, Trujillo also slept with their wives and teenage daughters. Trujillo’s decay began when the Catholic church opposed him. A wave of protests and various assassination plots emerged. After a 30-year reign of terror, he was murdered in a car ambush on May 30, 1961.

Augusto Pinochet

If Americans remember the events of September 11, Chileans also remember that date very well. On September 11, 1973, Chilean army jet planes under the command of General Augusto Pinochet bombarded the “Palacio de la Moneda” (Chilean’s White House) and murdered Chilean President Salvador Allende. Army General Augusto Pinochet established a dictatorship and murdered hundreds of families. According to official accounts, 80,000 people were imprisoned, 30,000 people were tortured, and around 3,200 people were killed. What was the cause of all this bloodshed? It was all about money. To be more precise, American money.

When Salvador Allende assumed presidential office, he nationalized most large-scale industries. American investments, heavily invested in mining, were shut off completely. Basically, millions of dollars were lost once Allende issued his reforms. This was unacceptable. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contacted Pinochet and gave him military equipment to perform a coup d’etat.

Once Pinochet gained power, he invited the “Chicago Boys” to join his committee. The Chicago Boys were a group of Chilean economists who graduated from the University of Chicago. Guided by American economist Milton Friedman, the Chicago Boys issued laissez-faire or free market policies in Chile in 1974. American National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger oversaw the entire process. Kissinger said to Pinochet:” You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende.”

Pinochet was on good terms not only with the U.S. but also with Britain. In the Falkland Islands conflict between Britain and Argentina, Chile supported the former with intelligence service and radar equipment and allowed British aircraft to disguise themselves as Chileans. During the nineties, Chile had one of the highest rates of economic growth in Latin America. Nevertheless, the population turned increasingly hostile to Pinochet’s regime. Opposition sectors proliferated and intensified the dissent within the nation. Under a new referendum, a new democratic president, Patricio Ailwyn, assumed power in 1990.

Pinochet retired and became a senator for life. But he was later arrested and judged for his crimes. He died of a heart attack in 2006.

Eva Peron

Eva Duarte was born in Los Toldos, in rural Argentina. She was born out of wedlock, and her father died when she was only one year old. She was stigmatized for being an illegitimate child. Such events made her have a traumatic childhood. Even if she grew up poor, Eva dreamed of becoming a famous actress. She moved to Buenos Aires in her teens, pursuing a career in radio, TV, and theater. During a charity event, Eva happened to meet General Juan Peron. They instantly fell in love and married. At this time, General Peron began to have political aspirations.

During these years, Eva formed a union of artists and was given the chance to host a daily radio show. The show “Toward a Better Future” transmitted soap operas idealizing Juan Peron. Also, General Peron’s speeches were often broadcast. But the stellar figure was Eva, who spoke with the slang used in the shantytowns. Having a poor background was the greatest quality Eva had. In future years, most Argentinians completely identified with her humility, her manners, her regional accent, and her compassion for the poor. The Argentinian majority felt that, finally, “their own people” were in control.

Their ascension to power quietly unfolded. General Juan Peron was only happy that Eva applied her artistic abilities. But he didn’t realize that Eva’s radio show was a turning point in their career. Juan Peron only understood that until a year later. On the 9th of October in 1945, Peron was arrested by the Argentinian government, which was fearful of his power and influence over the masses. A week later, 350,000 people showed up at the Pink House (Argentina’s White House) to protest for the liberation of Juan Peron. Only then did Juan Peron realize that Eva, without being aware of it, had become the most influential Argentinian in the nation and the most powerful woman in Latin America?

Drawing wide political support, Juan Peron easily gained the elections. In his frequent tours around the region, Juan Peron paraded his wife everywhere he went. When Juan Peron’s government was inaugurated, Eva made an official trip to Europe. She was featured in the cover story of Time Magazine. Traveling throughout Europe, “the poor girl from the slums” met famous personalities such as the Pope, Francisco Franco, Charles de Gaulle, and Antonio Salazar.

Eva Peron genuinely loved the poor, and the masses instantly recognized it. It is known that during Eva’s speeches, she often made her audience cry with emotion. Along with her husband, Eva criticized the rich and the elite that governed the nation. Eva blamed them for all the Argentinian suffering and oppression. Peron’s government sought the inclusion of the poor masses in the political debate. Laws allowing women’s suffrage were passed. Eva organized unions, campaigned for civil rights, inaugurated hospitals and schools, and introduced laws protecting children born out of wedlock.

In addition, Eva founded various charity foundations, devoting all her energies to them. Working restlessly for 20 hours a day, Eva disregarded her husband’s admonitions for her to rest. This is how she built her worldwide reputation of “holiness.” Even today, she is remembered as Santa Evita, “Holy Evita”. Over time, her strenuous work schedule took a toll on her health. After her husband’s reelection, Eva lost weight and could hardly walk. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Eva Peron died in July 1952. She was only 33 years old.

Her funeral had a massive concurrence, as never seen before in the history of Argentina. The crowds were so numerous that, a day after her death, eight people died crushed by the multitude. Also, over 2,000 people were sent to the hospital due to injuries. Overall, three million people attended her funeral. And the story never ends.

She became known after her death. After her body was embalmed, it disappeared under mysterious circumstances. It remained lost for 16 years.

Oscar Arnulfo Romero

During the 1970s, something happened to the Catholic Church. Usually, churches preach a particular message to the poor. Their homilies are based on the holiness of poverty, humility, and the virtue of obedience. Such lessons were intended to make the masses submit to their fate. However, a particular movement appeared in the Catholic Church during the 1960’s. Latin American priests began practicing what they later called “the theology of liberation.” This doctrine consisted of carefully reading the Bible and interpreting it by heart.

Nevertheless, their interpretation focused on the verses against the sins of wealth, such as:” Those who trust in their riches will fall” or “It is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter Heaven.” Latin American priests believed that poverty was not fate but a condition, not a misfortune, but an injustice. They taught that suffering was a result of social structures and that evil was related to the way their society was built. Aware of those teachings, the elite reacted. The priests were reviled both by the government and the elite. One of the priests said:” When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist.”

During the 1970s, Central American governments faced guerrilla rebellions. Guerrilla contingents appeared in all the peasant communities in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Fearing a spread of Communism, the CIA shipped a massive reserve of training officers and weapons to these areas. The confrontation between U.S.-sponsored government forces and the guerrillas turned ferocious. But the peasant army did not lay down their arms. Frustrated by the prolonged fight, American Intelligence recognized something. A geopolitical issue was not only resolved by war tactics, sophisticated weapons, and well-trained soldiers. It goes deeper. How did the peasants renew their strength to keep fighting? It was obvious: the ideas spread by the priests were dangerous; the liberation theology incited peasants to revolt. It was urgent to block the distribution of those dangerous ideas. Consequently, the CIA sponsored a brutal war against the church. Dozens of priests, nuns, and acolytes were targeted.

Bishop Oscar Romero was the leader of the Salvadorean Catholic Church. Since the war was unleashed, the bishop preached against violence. In his homilies, he repudiated all the ways of politics. Bishop Romero did not sympathize with conservatives or communists. Instead, he criticized both sides and insisted that their differences could only be solved by dialogue. Although, he was still loyal to his truth: he emphasized that the war precipitated due to the elite, who had accumulated their wealth and left the majority of Salvadoreans in abjection.

In those years, the bishop received dozens of death threats. He did not fear when the churches were bombed, and many priests and nuns were being murdered by machine guns. His callings for peace became passionate. He sent a letter to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, asking him to stop supplying weapons to El Salvador because innocent blood was being shed. He received no reply. One day, one of his close associates, Father Rutilio Grande, was killed. Bishop Romero knew he would have the same fate.

On March 24, 1980, Bishop Romero was celebrating a mass. As soon as he finished his sermon, he was shot in front of the altar.

His funeral was attended by more than 250,000 mourners from all over the world.

Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez was born into a family of working-class teachers. While his parents could not support him, Chavez was raised by his grandmother. He loved his grandmother, and they both actively participated in church events. Chavez confessed that sometimes he did not have enough to eat, learning about social injustice early in life. He attended military school and graduated with honors. He also pursued a master’s degree in political science. During his academic years, he became obsessed with Simon Bolivar. Chavez studied Bolivar’s life passionately. He also studied the biographies of Che Guevara and Peruvian leftist dictator Juan Velasco.

Even as a young soldier, Chavez was dissatisfied with his career. According to him, corruption existed in all the army ranks, and he was ashamed to form part of that. The fact that he pondered over the most was social inequality. How can a country with massive oil profits could have such levels of poverty? What was the use of economic freedom without social justice? Chavez finally decided to overthrow the government of Venezuela. His first coup attempt failed miserably in 1992, and he was sentenced. His capture and imprisonment were publicized by the media.

After being released, Chavez acquired enough political clout to become a presidential candidate. He easily won the elections in 1999 and gradually tried to include the population’s will in political affairs. In 2000, he applied a welfare reform called Plan Bolivar, which included the building of roads and hospitals, the installation of water supply, and reduced food prices. Feeling his reforms would not last for long, he made sure to stay in power. He called for a referendum to issue a new constitution, allowing him more powers. Facing moderate opposition, he dissolved the Supreme Court of Venezuela and appointed new judges. Chavez reigned over the three government branches, and his regime turned dictatorial. From then on, Chavez displayed an intransigent character.

Be that as it may, the majority of Venezuelans loved him. His greatest tool was his popular television talk show, Alo President, “Hello President.” Chavez wielded his political abilities during his show. He knew politics was an art mastered by the means of cunning and deceit. He knew that the best liar was always the most successful. Accordingly, Chavez addressed his countrymen using a common language. The Venezuelan masses identified with his actions, his attitudes, and mannerisms. Also, Chavez talked about politicians as most Venezuelans did; he called George Bush a drunkard and a donkey and nicknamed him “Mr. Danger.” He also insulted the presidents of Peru and Colombia.

Referring to the topic of deceit, let us focus on his speeches. Chavez claimed he did not speak English and he had a broken accent. The fact was that Chavez was English proficient and fluent. Journalist Larry King reported that Chavez even knew sophisticated baseball terms. But as soon as he turned in front of the camera, he claimed ignorance and required a translator. Under the public eye, Chavez had to behave, act, and think like the poor people of Venezuela. His powers resided in portraying that image.

A disgusting aspect of his regime was the way the upper and middle classes were mistreated. Many Venezuelans had to flee the country to avoid future grievances. Independent media companies were closed, and critics of his regime were fired.

His power did not last for long. In 2009, Chavez was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which spread to many vital organs. During his convalescence, he changed his approach towards the middle class and the private sector. He asked them to participate in the Bolivarian Revolution. His illness became fatal, and after multiple surgeries, he died in March 2013. Chavez’s legacy is stained by his despotism towards some Venezuelan sectors. According to the World Bank, during his government, the poverty rate was reduced from 49.4% to 25.6%. Unfortunately, all his welfare reforms are now causing a serious economic crisis.

Rigoberta Menchu

Rigoberta Menchu is an indigenous activist from Guatemala. From 1960 to 1996, Guatemala was affected by a bloody Civil War that involved forces of the government and the leftist guerrilla. The guerrilla was backed by the Mayan indigenous towns and peasants. Under the call for modernization, the government repressed these communities, stripping away their most basic rights. This conflict caused an estimated death toll of 200,000 people. The government forces did not discriminate and murdered teachers, union leaders, indigenous leaders, peasants, university students, journalists, and street children.

Rigoberta’s Menchu father was a member of the guerrilla. When he was assassinated, his daughter, Rigoberta, emigrated to Mexico. In Mexico City, she met with anthropologist Elizabeth Burgos and narrated all her painful experiences in the war. The book, “My Name is Rigoberta Menchu, and This is How My Conscience Was Born” was published in 1991 and became a best-seller. She turned into an international icon and received the Nobel Prize in 1992.

Nowadays, Menchu still supports indigenous rights in Central and South America. The indigenous Bolivian President Evo Morales is a close friend of Menchu.

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