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Survivor Profiles: Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj

I can say that all my life I have been aware of racism and lived with it on my skin. I have faced it. I know how it works. I understand it better now with the knowledge I've gained through my academic training.

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj


Dr. Irma A. Velásquez Nimatuj is a Maya-K’iche’ journalist, activist, and social anthropologist. She has been at the forefront of the struggles for respect for indigenous rights and culture in Guatemala and in Latin America for decades, participating as an expert witness in the genocide trial against Efraín Ríos Montt (2013 and 2018) as well as in the “Sepur Zarco” trial for sexual violence and sexual slavery committed against Mayan women (2016). She also played an instrumental role in making racial discrimination illegal in Guatemala in 2002.  

She is the author of several books on the rights and challenges of Indigenous Peoples and women, with several published poetry books. Dr. Nimatuj wrote a weekly newspaper column for El Periódico de Guatemala for 20 years and has served on UNICEF, UN Women, and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues. In 2020, she was awarded the LASA/Oxfam America-Martin Diskin Memorial Lectureship. From 2016 to 2022, she served as a visiting professor at various universities in the United States. She was also featured in the documentary film 500 Years (Skylight Pictures) for her role as an activist and expert witness in war crime trials. Her story is represented in the Spagat Family Voices of Genocide Exhibition at Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.


‘Cultural Survival’ Interview: ‘500 Years’ ‘Medium’ Article: Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj Receives Martin Diskin Award (Spanish)

Photo credits: Kathleen Hinkel

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