Guatemalan Nobel Winner Forms Group

The Associated Press
Monday, February 12, 2007; 11:03 PM

GUATEMALA CITY -- Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu on Monday announced the formation of an Indian-led political movement whose primary aim is to back her probable bid for Guatemala's presidency this fall.

Menchu is in talks with two minor leftist parties that have offered to make her their presidential candidate. The movement, known as Winaq, does not have time to register itself as a political party before September elections but would back Menchu's candidacy under the banner of one of the smaller registered parties.

Winaq is a Mayan word signifying "the wholeness of the human being."

"For the 200 years of the Guatemalan republic, we Indians have been voters but not elected officials and this is the moment to change that," Menchu told a news conference at her house in Guatemala City.

If elected, Menchu would become the second Nobel laureate serving as president in Central America. Oscar Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Price in 1997, took office as Costa Rica's president in May.

Menchu won the Peace Prize in 1992 for her efforts to bring peace and reconciliation to her homeland, where a 36-year civil war killed about 150,000 _ most of them civilians of Guatemala's Indian majority.

She would also become the second Indian head of state in Latin America after Bolivia's president Evo Morales, who took office last year.

© 2007 The Associated Press