U.S. Policy in the Global South

Sept 19, 7pm EDT

Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum

1992 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient 

Vincent Bevins

Journalist and Author of The Jakarta Method

Amy Goodman

– Moderator –
Journalist and Executive Producer of Democracy Now!

Throughout the twentieth century, the United States trained and financed military regimes to crush reformist and revolutionary movements. This keynote explored the devastating consequences of U.S.-backed state terror in Central America and Southeast Asia. In Central America alone, U.S. intervention from 1960-1996 led to the deaths of over 300,000 people. U.S.-backed dictatorships in Guatemala and Indonesia killed more than a million people accused of revolutionary activism. At the same time, throughout the Global South, rural workers led powerful movements against U.S.-backed regimes to win basic rights.

The keynote presenter, Dr. Rigoberta Menchú Tum, participated in the farmworker movement as a young woman. Her seminal testimonial, I, Rigoberta Menchú, An Indian Woman in Guatemala, denounced Reagan’s support for government attacks on Mayan communities. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her social justice work. Journalists Vincent Bevins and Amy Goodman joined the keynote presenter. Bevins outlined a global history of U.S. terror against civilians during the Cold War, based on this book The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World. Renowned journalist Amy Goodman moderated the event. Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, and co-author of six New York Times bestsellers.

Spanish interpretation and closed captions available.

Top photo: Mourners gather to commemorate the 1982 Rio Negro Massacre, in which 177 women and children were raped and murdered by the Guatemalan army in retaliation for their community’s resistance to land seizures. © James A Rodriguez, 2009


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The Presenters

Rigoberta Menchú Tum is a Mayan K’iche’ woman who was born in Laj Chimel Village, San Miguel Uspantán, El Quiché, Guatemala. Her parents were Mr. Vicente Menchú Pérez and Mrs. Juana Tum K’otoja’. She married Mr. Ángel Francisco Canil Grave and is the mother of Mash Nawalja’ Canil Menchú and Tz’unun Canil Menchú, who passed away in December 1997. 

As a social leader, activist, political leader, writer, and spiritual guide, Menchú Tum has worked tirelessly to defend and vindicate the rights of women and Indigenous peoples and has had an extraordinary track record in peace dialogue processes in the region. She is the founder and Life President of the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation, which has been a platform at the national and international levels for the last thirty years to develop initiatives in favor of the most disadvantaged populations in the fields of education, food security, human rights, and justice.

With the support of Indigenous leaders from Latin America and the world, she has promoted the International Year for the World’s Indigenous People and the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People at the United Nations. She is founder of the political party Political Movement Winaq, Vice President of the Association “Menchú Tum, Towards a Culture of Peace, A.C” which is based in Mexico, active member and founder of the Nobel Peace Prize Women’s Initiative, active member of the PeaceJam Foundation, active member of the National Council and founder of the Political Association of Mayan Women of Guatemala MOLOJ, and Extraordinary Researcher and Holder of the Extraordinary Chair “Rigoberta Menchú Tum” at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

The many awards she has received include the Nobel Peace Prize (1992), UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador (1996 to July 2020), the “Legion of Honor in the Highest Degree of Commander” decoration (1996), Prince Award for International Cooperation (1998), José Martí Ibero-American Award (2002), Aztec Eagle Award (2010), and Rubén Darío Cultural Order (2010); and more than thirty Honorary Doctorates in the field of humanities, awarded by prestigious universities in Latin America, Europe, and Asia, including the University of San Carlos of Guatemala and the National Autonomous University of Mexico; and other international recognitions for her contributions in the search for and preservation of peace among peoples.

Author of numerous books, her most recent is “K´aslemalil-Vivir, El Caminar de Rigoberta Menchú Tum en el Tiempo,” which was published in December 2014, with a second edition in December 2015. Read more.

Vincent Bevins was born in California in 1984, and has worked as a journalist and correspondent for fifteen years. After working at the Financial Times in London, he served as Brazil Correspondent for the Los Angeles Times (2011-2016) and then moved to Indonesia in 2017 to cover Southeast Asia for the Washington Post. In 2020 he published The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program that Shaped Our World, a global investigation into the use of organized violence against leftist movements during the twentieth century. In 2021 he moved back to São Paulo to work on his second book. Read more.

Amy Goodman (moderator) is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,500 public television and radio stations worldwide. Among many honors, she has received the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence and is the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” for “truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.” Goodman has co-authored six New York Times bestsellers, and co-writes a weekly column, syndicated nationally by King Features. Read more.

Recommended Resources

Short Introductions



  • Rigoberta Menchú Tum, I Rigoberta Menchú, an Indian Woman in Guatemala, edited by Elizabeth Burgos-Debray.
  • Greg Grandin, Deborah T. Levenson, and Elizabeth Oglesby, eds., The Guatemala Reader: History, Culture, Politics
  • Greg Grandin, The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold War
  • Cindy Forster, “The Macondo of Guatemala: Banana Workers and National Revolutions in Tiquisate, 1944-1954,” in Banana Wars: Power, Production, and History in the Americas, ed. Steve Striffler and Mark Moberg (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 191-228.
  • Deborah Levenson, Trade Unionists Against Terror: Guatemala City 1954-1985
  • Vincent Bevins, The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World
  • Bradley R. Simpson, Development and U.S.-Indonesian Relations, 1960-1968
  • Nick Turse, Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam
  • Amy Goodman, The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope

Primary Sources

  • Greg Grandin, Deborah T. Levenson, Elizabeth Oglesby, The Guatemala Reader (Duke University Press, 2011). (A large collection of primary sources that span 500 years of history, and include documents directly related to the US-backed coup in 1954 and support of genocide in the 1980s. It also has documents exploring worker and Indigenous-led anti-imperialist movements.)
  • Human Rights Watch, “Indonesia: US Documents Released on 1965-66 Massacres,” October 18, 2017. (Contains excerpts and links to 39 declassified documents from the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta)

The Feinberg Series Course Syllabus: U.S. Empire and Solidarity in Central America. Prof. Diana Sierra Becerra, Fall 2022.

The Feinberg Series

The 2022-2023 Feinberg Series is exploring histories of U.S. imperialism and anti-imperialist resistance. It is presented by the UMass Amherst Department of History in collaboration with the Ellsberg Initiative for Peace and Democracy and in partnership with more than two dozen co-sponsors. The Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible thanks to the generosity of UMass Amherst history department alumnus Kenneth R. Feinberg ’67 and associates.