200 Years Later Mayan People Reclaim their History of Independence

FROM THE EDITORS: In Guatemala, people are celebrating the memory of Atanasio Tzul, the first indigenous mayor of the country who, in 1820, led an indigenous uprising against Spanish colonialism, as well as a living example of the struggle for the people’s self-determination. The document below was originally published by Prensa Comunitaria from Guatemala, a community journalism project composed of “a group of women and men of Mayan origin Q’anjob’al, K’iché´, Q’eqchi, Pocomchi’, Kaqchikel, Chuj, and mestizo.”

SOURCE: Originally published in Prensa Comunitaria

Guatemala: 200 Years Later, Our Struggle and Exercise of Self-Determination Continues

1. Today is July 9, 2020. We remember with great joy that 200 years have passed since the coronation of Atanasio Tzul, First Indigenous Mayor in 1819 and Principal of Principals of the Canton Linkaj since 1820, who together with his wife Felipa Soc, Lukas Akiral, First Indigenous Mayor of 1820, and his wife María Hernández Sapon, led the rebellion for independence of the Mayan K’iche’ people of Chiwimiq’ina’, together with the Principals, Mayors, Brotherhoods and other authorities and the indigenous people of Chuwimiq’ina’, that began to take shape in 1803 and 1813.

2. We flatly reject that our children and our people continue to be made to believe that Atanasio Tzul, Lukas Akiral, Felipa Soc, María Hernández Sapon, Manuel Tot and other authorities and indigenous leaders who rebelled against the Creole and Ladino systems, be considered heroes of Creole independence, hiding the true history of emancipation, self-determination, autonomy and self-government for which our peoples have fought throughout their lives.

3. Atanasio Tzul, Lukas Akiral, Juan Monroy, and other Indigenous and Principal Mayors were imprisoned and tortured by the Creoles in Quetzaltenango. That is why we reject any commemoration that any government official makes to Atanasio Tzul, King of the K’iche ‘Mayan People of Chuwimiq’ina’, and his companions.

4. We thank from our hearts the example of struggle and autonomy of our ancestors, especially Atanasio Tzul, Felipa Soc, Lukas Akiral, María Hernández Sapon, Juan Monroy, Principals, Indigenous Authorities, Brotherhoods and leaders of our communities who are Authorities and K’iche ‘Indigenous Leaders from Momostenango, San Cristóbal Totonicapán, San Andrés Xecul, San Francisco el Alto, Santa María Chiquimula, Mam de San Juan Ostuncalco and other authorities such as Manuel Tot, from the Q’eqchi’ town, who also joined to free ourselves from the oppression, corruption, exploitation and other evils of Creoles and Ladinos who governed and continue to govern our peoples.

5. 200 years later, the oppression, discrimination, racism, exclusion, destruction of our lands and natural resources continues; nepotism, corruption, impunity, and the abuses of the Ladino governments that were established during Creole independence continue. It is enough to remember what Spanish Gabino Gainza’s decree said on September 17, 1821, that the signed independence proclamation of the 15th was only to avoid depending on the Iberic government, and they could now do on our soil everything that previously could only be done in that other one. That is to say, continue the abuses, only by the Creoles and Ladinos now. When they celebrate September 15th, they also celebrate the imprisonment and torture of Atanasio Tzul, Lucas Akiral, and Juan Monroy and all the authorities who were captured.

6. The Mayan K’iche ‘people of Totonicapán, and the Mayan peoples who joined him, obtained their independence from the Creoles in 1820, but our authorities who led that independence were tortured and imprisoned; that is why they do not have the moral solvency to hold any celebration in honor of our ancestors. They cannot continue and we should not lend ourselves to continue hiding the true history of our people for the benefit of the oppressor.

7. Atanasio Tzul, Felipa Soc, Lukas Akiral, María Hernández Sapon, Juan Monrtoy, and Manuel Tot, our elders who fought to defend our land and our dignity, to defend ourselves against the oppression of Creoles, Ladinos, and religion, from where we look, here we are, here are your children, here we follow their example. We do not forget them, we do not forget their struggles, we are teaching that struggle to our children so that the truth is always known. Although late, the truth always comes.

8. We do not want to stop invoking the authorities of our people including B’alam K’itze ‘, B’alam Aq’ab’, Majuk’utaj, Iq ‘B’alam, Kaqa Palo Ja’, Chom Ija ‘, Kaqa K’ixa IJa ‘, Tz’unun Ija’, Kiq’ab ‘Ajpop Nima Yax, Oxib’ Kej, B’elejeb ‘Tz’i, Asumanche’, Tikum Umam, Tz’ikin Nejaib ‘, Tikum, Tepepeu, Juan de Rojas, Juan de Cortez, Kaji ‘Imox, Kaib’il B’alam, to all the Auxiliary Mayors, Community Mayors, Sheriffs, Delegates and Promoters of Baths and Natural Resources, to all the living and deceased presidents of the Boards of Directors of the 48 Cantons, who have fulfilled the historical slogans of the struggle of our people on this important day and that have maintained the independence of the 48 cantons against the oppressive authorities of the State and the municipality.

9. We do not want to forget the authorities who have served our people and the indigenous peoples of Guatemala, wives, daughters, and sons and who, without being a communal authority or from the 48 cantons, gave up their lives or were imprisoned throughout the country, as is the case of Jesús Baltazar Caxaj Puac, Santos Nicolás Hernández Menchú, Rafael Nicolás Batz Menchú, Jesús Francisco Puac Ordoñez, Jesús Eusebio Puac Barreno, and Arturo Félix Sapon Yax, murdered on October 4, 2012, on the summit of the Alaska mountain by the government of Guatemala, with the complicity of the municipal government of Totonicapán.


Chiwimiq’ina ‘,

200 years after the independence of the kingdom of the people K’kiche’ of Chuwimiq’ina’-Totonicapán.

July 9, 2020

Signed by 19 representatives of mayors; 5 indigenous authorities; 17 academics, and social leaders; as well as 12 Guatemalan organizations.

  • Km.169 Prensa Comunitaria from Guatemala, a community journalism project composed of a group of women and men of Mayan origin Q’anjob’al, K’iché´, Q’eqchi, Pocomchi’, Kaqchikel, Chuj, and mestizo.

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