General Info Guatemala is one of the poorest countries of Latin America, with 80% of its population living in poverty. In 1982 there was a violent overthrow of the Guatemalan government, an event which initiated a period of immense brutality on the part of the military toward the poor and indigenous peoples of the Guatemalan countryside. The devastating consequences of the conflict include 150,000 dead, 40,000 disappeared, 440 indigenous villages razed to the ground and more than a million people left homeless. Most of the victims were Mayans, the natives who have been oppressed since colonization.
Corruption The country is controlled by what is called a “Corporate Mafia State”, which consists of some multinational corporations that work with the police, military, government and common criminals to pursue economic gains. This corrupt alliance is the root of many of many human rights abuses.
Are we not guilty? The United States government has supported the Guatemalan Army and the ruling corporate class in their policies of repression for over four decades. Under dictator Jorqe Ubico, American-owned United Fruit Company gained control of forty-two percent of Guatemala's land, and was exempted from taxes and import duties. In 1966 the United States Green Berets were sent to train the Guatemalan military. This is the same military that was involved with many of the massacres that occurred. U.S. military had a role in the forming of paramilitary death squads that wiped out hundreds of villages using the Army's "scorched earth" policy.
Those who dared to speak out… Anyone who spoke out against the government or attempted to improve the lives of peasants were subject to torture, mutilation, and death. Men were found decapitated or castrated. Some had their eyes gouged- out, their testicles cut off and put in their mouths, their hands or tongues cut off; women had their breasts cut off. Electric shock to the genitals was routinely used, with equipment and instructions supplied by the CIA. American planes and pilots, flying out of Panama, dropped napalm on suspected targets.
Street Children Robbery, prostitution, and begging are their main sources of income Thousands of children living in Guatemala's streets face routine beatings, thefts, and sexual assaults at the hands of the National Police and private security guards. Worst case scenarios include torture and murder. Many street children are arrested because they are homeless, and charged with vague crimes such as loitering. There are currently no government programs for street children. Since many of these kids have been abandoned by their parents they have no where to turn.
“I only wanted to be a child, but they wouldn’t let me ” Nahamán, a 13 year old street child that was brutally beat to death by policeman. He came to Guatemala to escape from war in El Salvador, instead he found himself homeless, and eventually murdered.
Poverty and Destruction 69.4 percent of the population is considered poor because they were unable to satisfy one or more of their basic needs (housing, sanitary conditions, employment). The standards for this study were very low, examples of substandard housing was homes made of discarded materials with dirt floors, or homes with four or more people to a room. The 1978-79 a revolution that destroyed the Somoza regime left 30,000 to 50,000 people dead. Much of the population was left homeless,several cities were destroyed by bombs, and a collapse of the economy.
The Contra War While the Sandinistas were in power, many human rights violations occurred such as: Murder of perceived Contra supporters Kidnappings Disappearances (1,000 people still unaccounted for) Illegal detentions Mistreatment and torture of prisoners Contras were known for similar acts as well.
Torture Law makes the use of torture a punishable crime A huge problem is the mistreatment of inmates by the police -529 reports of human rights abuses -many cases involving physical abuse -70 cases of torture reported in one year -Office of Civil Inspection for Professional Responsibility is in charge for monitoring allegations
Reasons & Outcomes Reasons *small budget *limited staff Outcomes *232 officers were sanctioned for violations of human rights *11 discharged dishonorably *54 left to the courts *rest received lesser punishments
Examples of Abuse During a protest on April 9, 2001 one student was detained and it was reported that the student was beaten by police 6 police officers were remanded to the courts on charges on destruction of property for using unnecessary force April 20, one student was killed while demonstrating
Prison Conditions Harsh conditions Overcrowded Under funded No medical attention Reports of malnutrition Holding cells-dark, poorly ventilated and unhygienic -only 4 showers and 4 toilets for 150 inmates
Prison Statistics September 2001 -4% of inmates were between 15-18 September 1998 -8.5% inmates between 15-18 September 1997 -10.4% inmates between 15-18
Conditions Improve William Frech, the first civilian prison director, replaced the quasi military prison administration -1,200 beds were donated -improvements in medical care -inmate population decreased -food distribution improved
Works Cited Nicaragua-A Country Study http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/nitoc.html Human Rights Watch http://www.hrw.org/americas/index.php Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org/ The Virtual Truth http://www.geocities.com/~virtualtruth/index.h tml http://www.geocities.com/~virtualtruth/index.h tml Americas.Org http://www.americas.org http://www.americas.org http://www.hrw.org/research/nicaragua.html