Ever since the United States, under then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother Allen Dulles, head of the CIA, deposed the democratically elected Arbenz of Guatemala (1954) the country has more or less been in a continuous state of civil war, in which an unending series of dictatorships have carried out murderous policies against their own citizens, with death squads trained here in the United States at the School of the Americas. You can read about how Arbenz was deposed here. At the time, the Dulles brothers were especially proud of what they achieved first in Iran to depose Mossadegh and then in Guatemala to depose Arbenz; Allen Dulles could hardly wait to let it all out so he selected two journalists from the Saturday Evening Post to tell the story, published in 1954. In the four decades since Arbenz was deposed, Guatemala became one of the twentieth centuries most infamous killing fields. CIA operatives called it the “stainless” coup; it consisted of assassinations, rampant torture and executions, by death squads that killed entire villages. Four decades later over 250,000 people had been killed in a nation whose total population was less than 4 million. Che Guevara was in Guatemala city when Arbenz we deposed and he took home a lesson that he and Castro would apply to the Bag of Pigs invasion—-fight fire with fire and never surrender. That is why Castro has survived hundreds of assassination attempts directed by the CIA.
Recently, Guatemala has seen widespread demonstrations in the streets, demanding the resignation of Otto Pérez Molina, the current dictator of Guatemala. In response to the crowd anger, Molina resigned and is now held in Jail to face charges of corruption. His replacement is Alejandro Maldonado, cut from the same cloth as Molina. Whether or not there is a true overthrow of the repressive dictatorship is not clear at the moment. Reporter Allan Nairn has been covering Guatemala since the 1980s; he reports that Molina has been involved in murders constituting genocide against the indigenous Mayan people.
In a new development, just a couple weeks ago, police have police have arrested 18 ex-military leaders on charges of committing crimes against humanity during the decades-long, U.S.-backed dirty war against Guatemala’s indigenous communities. The ex-military leaders face charges of ordering massacres and forced disappearances during the conflict, which led to the quarter-million deaths cited above. Many of the arrested former military leaders were backed by the United States, including Manuel Benedicto Lucas García, who had worked closely with U.S. military officials to develop a system of attacking the highlands where Guatemala’s indigenous Mayan communities reside. The system involved decapitating and crucifying people. Investigative journalist Allan Nairn (how he has continued to report on this turmoil for decades, without being assassinated himself is a topic ripe for a serious documentary)
Allan Nairn Reports:(from Democracy Now)
- ALLAN NAIRN: “Well, for Guatemala, this is kind of the beginning of a Nuremberg trial-type process, except it’s not being done by a foreign, occupying power that just won a war, the way the Nuremberg trials were done. This is being done by the local justice system. Heroism on the part of survivors who brought complaints forward, and also on the part of forensic anthropologists, lawyers, prosecutors, who are risking their lives to bring these cases, have resulted in this round-up of some of the worst mass killers in the country. And they were working for the Guatemalan army—they weren’t renegades. They were, in turn, working for the U.S. government. The U.S. was backing the G2 military intelligence service, for which many of these arrested officers were working. Some were on the U.S. payroll. They were armed, they were trained, they were advised by the U.S. General Benedicto, who we just saw in the clip saying he wasn’t a coward, he worked together with Colonel George Maynes, the U.S. military attaché. Maynes told me that he and Benedicto together developed the strategy of the sweeps into the highland villages, where they would go in, execute civilians, throw them in mass graves, decapitate, crucify.”
- “Those who were arrested on charges yesterday are facing charges tied to two specific cases. One is the case of a 15-year-old boy. The army raided his house with machine guns. They snatched him. They taped his mouth. They threw a nylon bag over his head. They dragged him into a van. He was never seen again. The reason they hit his house was because his sister, his older sister, had been held captive at an army base, where she was being tortured and repeatedly raped, but she—one account says she had grown so skinny from lack of food that she was able to slip out through the bars and escape. So, retaliation, they hit the house, they took the boy.”
- “The other case concerns the army base at Cobán, where they’ve so far found 558 cadavers, so far—skeletons, 90 of them children. People were brought there from massacre sites all around the northwest. Some of them fled from the massacre sites surrounding the Chixoy Dam project, which is backed by the World Bank. The army would go into villages, burn the houses, take women down to the rivers and violate them. And a number were taken away in helicopters—helicopters, some supplied by the U.S., some supplied by Guatemalan oligarchs, some working out of a CIA operation at the Aurora airport. And from there, they were flown to the Cobán army base. And now, years later, their bones, the bones of these largely women and children, have been traced through DNA sampling back to the surviving families, who have been brave enough to stand up and report this. And these are the bases of the cases.”
- “So, what we’re talking about was the ISIS of its day. The tactics that the world is now finally starting to understand because of the ISIS videos—beheadings, crucifixion, slavery, gang rape, mass slaughter of civilians—ISIS brags about this. Well, the Guatemalan army and their U.S. advisers didn’t brag about it—they concealed it—but they were doing—they were using those same tactics.”
Hopefully this is only the beginning of bringing justice, long delayed, to people of Guatemala. Every American must ask themselves why we have supported such murderous dictatorships in nearly every country with which we have been involved. If there is a worse track record in the modern era, someone needs to let me know about. As a country that has been a leading advocate of democratic principals, our recorded foreign policy is just the opposite of what one might expect from from a country that espouses democratic values. These policies were started with the Dulles brothers, but we continued them into the Vietnam war and virtually every one of our foreign policy blunders since. Why do Americans continue to believe that we are a special nation, the shining city on the hill, when the facts speak to a record of a very different country. While the Dulles brothers started this, they are long dead and forgotten, but what isn’t forgotten is our continued path down the highway they established for us. Why can’t we set a path for ourselves that doesn’t involve such murderous treachery.
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