HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Places » International » Latin America (Group) » Families Fleeing From Gua...

Sun Dec 29, 2019, 05:26 AM

Families Fleeing From Guatemala: A Case Of Corporate And State Aggression - OpEd

December 25, 2019

By Marc Pilisuk, Jennifer Rountree and Rebecca Ferencik*

In its attempt to stem a spike in the number of Latin American men, women, and children traveling to the U.S., an unprecedented number of them seeking asylum, the Trump administration has pushed Guatemala and other countries in the region to sign “safe third country” agreements. The U.S. is bound by law to permit those seeking asylum and this new agreement is an attempt by the administration to avoid this obligation by declaring Guatemala as a safe third country, requiring asylum seekers from Honduras and El Salvador to remain in Guatemala.

Signing an agreement declaring Guatemala a “safe” country does not make it so. Increasing drug and gang-related violence and poverty—an estimated 59% of Guatemalans live in poverty, most of whom are indigenous—are not the ingredients of a safe and secure environment. This environment is largely a result of the legacy of more than half a century of U.S. policy, intervention, and corporate interest and its deleterious effect on Guatemala’s people.

The Civil War
In the early 1950s, after decades of colonial rule, Guatemala elected Jacobo Arbenz, a nationalist and socialist who sought to transform oligarchic Guatemalan society through land reform and the development of government-owned enterprises. These government enterprises would be in competition with the American corporations, which at the time, dominated the railroad, electric, and fruit-trade industries. Of these American corporations, the United Fruit Company was the most influential. For decades, the company was the largest landowner, employer, and exporter in Guatemala. With nearly half of its land expropriated by Arbenz’ land reform act, United Fruit Company executives and board members (one of whom was then CIA Director Allen Dulles) appealed to the American government. In 1954, the U.S. government installed a puppet leader, overthrowing Arbenz in a coup, undoing his nationalist policies and setting up a strong-arm government that favored the United Fruit Company and other U.S. corporate interests.

Under U.S. guidance, Guatemala’s powerful military force and network of counterinsurgency surveillance—a program purported to stem the tide of communism in the region—continued for more than three decades. From 1960 through 1996, Guatemala was embroiled in a brutal civil war. The succession of military dictatorships were notorious for their scorched earth methods of destroying entire villages—most of them indigenous Mayan communities—in an effort to root out underground guerilla fighters. Their methods included beheading victims and burning them alive, smashing the heads of children on rocks, and raping women. In the fourteen months of Efraín Ríos Montt’s rule in the early 1980s, 10,000 documented killings or disappearances were reported. Conservative figures estimate that 200,000 people were killed or “disappeared” over the course of the war; 93% of the killings are attributed to the Guatemalan military. The United Nation’s Commission for Historical Clarification declared these deaths as genocide because the vast majority of the war’s victims were indigenous Maya. The 1999 report entitled, “Guatemala: Memory of Silence,” also identifies the U.S. involvement in the country as a key factor which contributed to human rights violations, including the training of Guatemalan officers in counterinsurgency techniques and support for the national intelligence system.


1 replies, 394 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 1 replies Author Time Post
Reply Families Fleeing From Guatemala: A Case Of Corporate And State Aggression - OpEd (Original post)
Judi Lynn Dec 2019 OP
abqtommy Dec 2019 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Dec 29, 2019, 10:39 AM

1. It's good to learn from history. Too bad so few of us do.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread