National State and Local Government



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The US policy regarding human rights abuses in Guatemala during the Cold War was at first to have no involvement with the fighting, giving the Guatemalan government freedom to do what they wanted. The United States, feeling that the Guatemalan government was fighting communist rebels, decided to believe the government propaganda and supplied military aid. It soon became clear that the aid was being used against civilians in an effort to hold on to power by an authoritarian regime. We let Guatemala deal with this issue alone and made little to no effort to help the Guatemalan people in obtaining justice.

One negative example from the podcast of the negative consequences of this policy is the horrible fact that the Guatemalan government raped girls, even at the young age of 12 years old. Another example is children, men and women both dead and alive were thrown down a well to their grave because the people of Dos Erres were believed to be rebels hiding guns from their government. These terrible actions had no repercussions.

I believe human rights considerations should guide US foreign policy. It is the duty of The US to keep peace in the world. Although we can not force all of our laws and agendas onto every part of the world, we can maintain our human rights standards and beliefs and should help others globally when we can. An example of evidence in why we should help support the world, specifically the innocent civilians of Guatemala, is the fact that they had a corrupt president that did not protect his people. At the end of the podcast we learn he was indicted for genocide. In the summer of 2011 a judge in Guatemala finally sentenced military soldiers to jail for participating in the massacres in Dos Erres. Another example is the catholic bishop was assassinated and nothing was done. These examples show us that Guatemala could use direction from The US in regards to the ethical treatment of their citizens and obtaining justice for the people.


This podcast is talking about the horrible massacre that occurred in Dos Erres, Guatemala in the 1980’s during the civil war. An entire town had been murdered by the military, because they were told that they had stolen 21 rifles, and they were sent to recover them. 200 innocent people were killed, and the United States knew the Guatemala military was responsible, but did nothing about it for many years to come. Due to this policy and according to the podcast, “The United States concluded that the Guatemalan Army was responsible. But they kept this a secret, didn’t discuss it publicly. And for years afterwards, the killings continued. And the US knew about it but stood by.” These types of killings continued in Guatemala, and the United States just stood by, and let it happen. “Civilian populations in the countryside were accused of harboring guerrillas and exterminated in the name of anti-communism. This violence peaked in the 1980s.” This is the kind of the that the US knew about, and just sat aside and let it get worse. If the United States had put aside their differences, the US could have helped Guatemala avoid all of these mass killings, and could have helped save hundreds of lives.

I believe that human rights consideration should guide United States foreign policies. According to the podcast, ” Finally, the Interamerican Court of Human Rights looked at what was going on and declared that these appeals were paralyzing justice and ordered Guatemala to bring the soldiers to trial.” The Human Rights courts were the ones to finally bring this case to trial, and to try to put this to an end., not geopolitical considerations. Geopolitical should not have anything to do with foreign policy in my opinion. Yes, we should respect other countries leaders, but if we know they are harming, and hurting their citizens, we should be able to step in and protect their human rights. Human rights should always guide our foreign policies. “Human rights also guarantee people the means necessary to satisfy their basic needs, such as food, housing, and education, so they can take full advantage of all opportunities. Finally, by guaranteeing life, liberty, equality, and security, human rights protect people against abuse by those who are more powerful.” We should let human rights guide our policies, and we should be able to help other countries, no matter their politics, and no matter our relationship with their government, People are people, and we should do everything in our power to help each other out.

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National State and Local Government

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