August 19, 2012
The US has had a major impact on Guatemala's history, usually a negative one. In 1954 we overthrew the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz. This led to a bloody civil war that lasted officially until 1999 and resulted in a bloody genocidal war against the Indian population in the highlands. The fallout from this war continues to haunt Guatemala today. The Guatemalan Human Right Commission is really unique in its courageous defense of human rights in Guatemala. This is dangerous work and it goes against the grain of US foreign policy. Most US efforts to help Guatemala provide some form of charity which - in my view - just perpetuates Guatemala's dependence. The Commission has helped Guatemalans get their story out to the larger world through their publications and speaking tours. They have organized to prevent the Guatemalan military (closely allied with drug traffickers) from getting US military aid, and they have provided direct solidarity to many human rights activists.
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