Guatemalan guerilla leader to visit


Luz Mendez, a leader of the coalition of guerilla organisations, the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG), will visit Australia on a speaking tour from September 17 to 27. The organisations forming the URNG have fought the Guatemalan military since 1961. The military has dominated Guatemala since a CIA-organised military coup in 1954.
Even since the return to civilian government in 1986, the military has continued its war against indigenous communities, political opposition, unions and other progressive organisations, operating with almost complete immunity from prosecution for its crimes. An estimated 150,000 people have been killed or "disappeared" since the 1960s.
At the age of 15, Luz Mendez became president of the Guatemalan Secondary Students Association and began fighting for the rights of students and for improvements in the standards of education. After entering the National University of San Carlos in the mid-'70s, she became the international secretary of the National Federation of University Students. In the late '70s, she joined the URNG.
She became part of the URNG's International Political and Diplomatic Commission in 1991. The commission has represented the URNG in ongoing peace negotiations with the government.
She is also a member of the National Union of Guatemalan Women.
Luz Mendez will be visiting Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Details of events will be listed in Meetings ... Parties ... Anything, or contact Ovidio Orellana on (07) 205 5527.