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                             LEARNING OBJECTIVES

The U.S. role in Guatemala’s civil role makes our understanding of its impact on
Mayan peasants extremely important. Lectures on peasants will provide you with
some of the background for understanding this book.

As you learn about Mayan culture and the struggle of Mayan people during
Guatemala’s civil war, the important themes run throughout the book and are not
isolated in particular chapters.

So, what are your learning objectives for the textbook? Basically, you want to
keep four major themes in mind as you read:

   You will want to understand Mayan culture—social customs and beliefs; contrast
    these with the Ladinos

   What is the place of Mayan peasants in the larger Guatemalan society?

   Understand Guatemala’s civil war and its impact on Mayan people

   What has been Rigoberta’s role, and that of her fellow villagers, in the struggle
    against a repressive military regime?

1. To engage with the first learning objective, Mayan culture:

       What are the more important religious beliefs of Mayan people and how do they
        influence Mayan world view and their relationship to the natural world?

       How do these beliefs influence their agricultural practices?

       Define Nahual: _________________________________________________

       How did Catholicism influence traditional Mayan beliefs?

       Understand the meaning of important rights of passage (e.g., coming of age,
        courting, marriage, etc.) and how did they view their relationship to the

       What are Rigoberta’s beliefs about gender roles? What does she think about
        women as revolutionaries?
2. To engage with the second learning objective, the place of Mayan peasants in
   the larger Guatemalan society: focus on the relationship of Mayan peasants,
   especially Rigoberta’s family to Ladinos

      In what ways does the life Rigoberta describes reflect the lecture on peasants?

      What is a Ladino? ________________________________________________

      What is the relationship of Mayan peasants to Ladinos? How does this reflect
       class differences?


      Be sure to understand the land issues and how they changed over time; what
       was the nature of conflicts between Rigoberta’s family and the Ladino
       landowners? What did each side do?

      How was Rigoberta’s father, Vicente, involved, what did he do, and what
       happened to him?

      What is the significance of the seasonal migrations from the Altiplanto
       (mountains where they live) to the coffee fincas (agricultural lands where they
       work as waged laborers), and how were people treated there?

       What happened to Rigoberta’s friend Maria on the fincas?

      What was Rigoberta’s experience with Ladinos when working as a maid in the
3. To engage with the third learning objective, Guatemala’s civil war and its impact
   on Mayan people

      Understand the U.S. role, the Guatemalan government’s role, and who was
       fighting in this war (there is a background on this civil war that is not required
       reading, but might be helpful at

      What important actions did the military government carry out in Rigoberta’s
       village? What was their impact on this community?

      Define CUC and explain what it did; what tactics did it use and how did these
       change over time?




      Think about why people were tortured and murdered by the government

      How did religion play a role in this civil war?

      Does the label “communist” seem appropriate as a rationale for the genocide?
       Why or why not?

      What is your reaction to the fate of Rigoberta’s family members and others in the

       What happened to Doña Petrona and why?

       Rigoberta’s brother, Petrocinio?

       Rigoberta’s mother?

       Rigoberta’s father, Vicente?
4. To understand the fourth learning objective, Rigoberta’s role in resistance to
   the military oppression

      Define catechist and state what they did:



      Define Catholic action and state what Rigoberta did within it:



      Define CUC and explain what was Rigoberta’s role in the CUC?



      What happened to Rigoberta once her mother was murdered and she was
       hunted by the government?

In addition to 20 multiple choice questions, there will be a 5 point essay—prepare this in

In one paragraph, explain several factors that most impressed you about how this
Mayan woman stepped out of her traditional gender role and became active in the
struggle against the Guatemalan military. What challenges did she have to
overcome to do so? Then conclude your essay paragraph with a brief statement of
your own reaction to the Mayans’ experience during the Guatemalan civil war.