In January 2013, on an early morning in Guatemala City, soldiers with automatic weapons are standing on street corners. A long line of Mayan women and men head into the high court, an institution historically dominated by the interests of a small white elite minority. Just three decades earlier, the ruling elite, with U.S. backing, engineered a coup that would topple a democratically elected government and unleash a dark period of repression and massacres. 200,000 mostly indigenous people were murdered; 45,000 urban artists, intellectuals, and activists disappeared.
Thirteen years later, the Mayan survivors and activists prevailed: former president Efraín Ríos Montt was brought before the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity and a citizen uprising forced a corrupt president, Otto Perez Molina, to resign.
This heroic story is the subject of 500 Years, the third installment in Director Pamela Yates’s The Resistance Saga trilogy. Focusing on universal themes of racism, power, corruption, and social justice, 500 Years tells the story through the eyes of the majority indigenous Mayan population in Guatemala. It highlights how the ongoing struggle for human rights galvanized activists, especially women, to emerge as eloquent, powerful leaders of their community and country.
On November 8, New America NYCpresented a screening of 500 Years and a conversation with the filmmakers and activists about justice in the face of structural racism and how the force of sustained nonviolent resistance can make it possible for right to make might.
Pamela Yates @pameladyates
Director, 500 Years
Monica Aleman Cunningham @ACunningham2013
Senior Program Officer, Building Institutions and Networks (BUILD), Ford Foundation
Andrea Ixchíu @Andreakomio
Mayan activist featured in 500 Years