Irma Alicia Velasquez


As Interviewed by Isabela Garcia, March 10,2016
"I support the indigenous struggles and the struggle of indigenous women... The discrimination is still everyday in Guatemala right now."
Irma Alicia Velasquez

Introductory Profile: About Irma Velasquez

My interviewee is Irma Velasquez, an Indian Quiche (Maya) woman from Guatemala, who has been fighting against discrimination and violence in her community. I interviewed Irma at the University of Texas at Austin’s Benson Latin American Collection library. She is a visiting scholar for the Latin American Studies Program at UT. I did not know Irma personally until I came to the interview. My father, who is doing a PhD in Communication, helped me to set the appointment. During the interview, she was really nice and kind, even though we had just met.

Irma is a Maya from Guatemala who grew up very close to South Mexico. Through her life, she has experienced discrimination against indigenous people. Irma had the privilege to go to the journalism school when she was 17. She also got a PhD in the University of Austin in Anthropology. She was the first Maya woman to obtain a doctoral degree in that department. Irma loves embracing and defending her culture and her people. Through several organizations and actions, she has been helping to stop the discrimination and violence against Quiches in Guatemala. She has written a book on that subject, and she is planning on publishing two more. She sponsors a scholarship for indigenous people so they can have better opportunities. Irma loves wearing her indigenous clothing and really embraces it by the way she looks. She is brave, nice, and amazing.

In this interview, Irma talks about the importance of defending the rights of the indigenous population and her work on this struggle. She remembers the discriminatory incident that marked her life when she tried to enter a restaurant in Guatemala, and how that event triggered her to protect her community through civic actions and education. Lastly, Irma talks about Donald Trump and how US politics affects Latin America. The main idea of the Interview is Irma’s struggle against discrimination and her activism around these issues. Irma is a hard worker and has achieved many goals just by speaking up. She is a true fighter for social justice.