Nineth Varenca Montenegro Cottom (born 1958 in San Marcos, Guatemala)[1] is a Guatemalan human rights activist and a victim of state terrorism. She was the first person to face civil resistance on a national level as a result of protesting in the streets about the whereabouts of her husband, Edgar Fernando García, who had been captured illegally by the government and has been a missing person since February 18, 1984. The disappearance of her husband still remains an unsolved case, as he is considered a disappeared person.

She is married to the current director of GAM (Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo), Mario Polanco.


In September 1984, she joined with other family members of victims of state violence and founded GAM ("Mutual Support Group"; Spanish: Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo), one of Guatemala's oldest and best-known human rights organizations.

After receiving her teaching degree from Instituto Normal Central para Señoritas Belén, she worked as a teacher in public schools for many years. She was considered a hero and a role model for women at one of the last schools she taught at, "No 151 en la zona 7".

Since 1979, she has dedicated herself to social struggles. As a consequence of her constant protesting, she has received thousands of death threats. She has also appeared in Amnesty International videos that portray social struggles in Guatemala.[citation needed]


Montenegro was elected to Congress in 1996 and, since then, has dedicated herself to monitoring the functions of multiple public institutions, including the armed forces, where she managed to detect abnormal activity that caused the illicit enrichment of several army officials.

Since 2004, she has dedicated herself to building her own political party, Encuentro por Guatemala, for which she received public support. Her political party united with Visión con Valores, which obtained six seats in Congress, giving her another term of office for the 2008-12 legislative session, as second vice president.[citation needed]


She was named person of the year by various magazines and other media reports.

She has received international recognition in:[citation needed]

  • The United States
  • Spain
  • Austria
  • France
  • Canada
  • Argentina

See also

External links


  1. ^ Jung, Wilma (2002). "Quem é quem na América Latina". latinoamericana.org. Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2017-10-20.