Rigoberta’s Political Commitment
When discussing her political commitment and position, Rigoberta Menchú refers to such important issues as equality of men and women, women’s responsibility for their life, and the role of a family. According to Rigoberta, a woman, even if she has a certain political and social position and understands her responsibility in the community, often faces difficulties because of men’s or compañeros’ misunderstanding (Menchú and Burgos-Debray 260-261).
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Rigoberta states that the problem is that women and men are unequal in their social roles, and moreover, women need to understand the necessity of taking responsibility for their well-being. On the contrary, there are cases when women can significantly contribute to society because they are inclined to try to resolve other people’s problems (Menchú and Burgos-Debray 260-261). After focusing on an important role of women with a determined political commitment, Rigoberta notes that women and men should fight for benefits as equals, but the spread of the idea of machismo prevents women from contributing to political and social changes.
Furthermore, much attention should be paid to the role of a family. The problem is that a woman who shares a certain political position can face the necessity of choosing between a family and the struggle for people’s benefits. Rigoberta once made such a choice and focused on fighting for the interests of her people (Menchú and Burgos-Debray 265-266). According to the woman, a family can be regarded as a source of many problems for women. As a result, those women who want to contribute to society can choose what path to follow and how to help people in the most beneficial way.
The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was supported by the Portuguese authorities to realize his first voyage and find India in order to improve the country’s trading system and make the crown more powerful. The first voyage started in 1492, and Columbus’s experience in the islands made him found the colony, the settlement of Navidad, as he was sure he had reached India (Williamson 7-8). The second expedition was realized in 1493, and the plan was to establish a permanent colony. The focus was on finding the new sources of wealth and labor for the Spaniards, as they planned to actively exploit the native people (Williamson 7-9). The third attempt to explore the coasts of the Americas was taken in 1498, and the fourth expedition was observed in 1502, leading to the spread of the Portuguese influence.
Experiencing problems with establishing settlements in the Americas, Columbus still planned to find the route to Asian countries. The difficulties the Spaniards faced in new colonies were associated with the fact that Indigenous people did not address colonists’ expectations, and they could not provide the Spaniards with many resources they needed. Furthermore, the principles of the monetary economy did not work effectively in the colonies because the natives lived according to different principles and followed the barter economy patterns (Williamson 12-13). The conflict could not be resolved effectively to address the expectations of both sides.
Additionally, the Spaniards suffered significantly from atypical diseases, and all attempts to stabilize the situation in the colonies required much effort and time. While trying to overcome the conflicts associated with using Indigenous people as labor for the Spaniards, colonists insisted to impose their power on the people of these lands, but they faced much opposition. Moreover, they did not find a route to India in spite of their plans and ambitious attempts.
Menchú, Rigoberta, and Elisabeth Burgos-Debray. I, Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala. Verso, 1984.
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Williamson, Edwin. The Penguin History of Latin America. Penguin UK, 2003.