Appeal to ancient Mayan wisdom to heal Guatemalan widows

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The Central American country of Guatemala promotes its indigenous heritage to tourists. At the same time, his government has historically marginalized and discriminated against the Mayans, many of whom endured terrible violence during a decades-long civil war. Twenty-five years after the end of the war, human rights leader Rosalina Tuyuc promotes healing for her people based on ancient Mayan wisdom.

As the COVID-19 pandemic raged and Guatemala was on lockdown, this remarkable woman told me her story – a story that reflects the long struggling history of the Mayans of Guatemala, especially that of her wives.

“I am deeply grateful to the many Elders – men and women who have told us that it is not good to continue to suffer, because we are meant to be happy.

Rosalina Tuyuc Velasquez

Rosalina Tuyuc Velasquez belongs to the Mayan linguistic community of Kakchikel. She was born into a family of peasant weavers and artisans about 60 years ago and was raised as a Catholic.

She heads an organization she founded in 1985 known by its Spanish acronym CONAVIGUA, the national coordinator of Guatemalan widows.

The organization fights for the rights of women who were raped and widowed during the country’s long civil conflict. Tuyuc says that what led her to organize this organization is the fruit of her own experience.

“I’m still looking for my father’s remains,” she said. “He was detained and forcibly disappeared, along with my husband and several other relatives.”

This story is part of a series called Sacred Steps produced in collaboration with KALW’s The Spiritual Edge and USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Funding comes from the John Templeton Foundation and the Templeton Religion Trust.

Cheryl Devall is the editor of Sacred Steps and Tarek Fouda is the engineer. Judy Silber is the editor-in-chief of The Spiritual Edge.

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