Violation of Human Rights in Guatemala Due to Government Corruption Background Guatemala is a part of central america and just like many of the surrounding countries, it has dealt with multiple occurrences of injustices, violations and exploitations. To paint a better picture, Guatemala being a beautiful country and known as the country of eternal spring, lacks and is rooted with scandals and multiple years of civil unrest. It is a country that values tradition but unfortunately does not appear in the media for these reasons. Guatemalans are increasingly exposed to the intrusion of foreign influences upon their way of life.
The massive importation of western culture and out of country products is seen everywhere, from products in markets to the building in Guatemala City. All aspects of communication-periodical news, the comics, soap operas, film-are primarily of foreign origin. A multitude of products, from soaps and boxed cereals and bottled drinks to automobiles, bear foreign brand names. This is of importance to the issue do to the adverse effects the events caused by relations of the Guatemalan government with western countries like the United States of America.
To understand the issue, one must be able to sympathize and ealize that the majority of the country’s people realize what is wrong but are either afraid or unable to make a substantial change. The violations of human rights in Guatemala can vary due to the numerous forms of corruption found in the country in either the media, government and treatment of the people. Significance to Social Justice This is a social justice issue because of the obvious imbalance of power that guatemalan people feel and have compared to their government.
As learned throughout the course, to be a true issue of injustice, there must be victims and possible action to better the conditions and create real change. Since social justice should promote a just society by challenging injustices and valuing diversity there have been multiple barriers that have been broken and obstacles faced by the guatemalan people and their supporters. Starting from the past, the lack of government support and control played a significant role in the civil unrests of the country, which in turn led to violations of people’s rights.
In 1954, the coup by the United States marked a turning point in Guatemalan history since it terminated the forces of the political centre. The coup was placed out of fear of nationalism and communism in Latin America which not was justified. This forced the country to have only a right and left wing and, the right at the time, gained control. Coffee planter, landowners, and foreign investors gained the upper hand under the protection of neo-conservative military regimes. This became a topic of concern because of the lack of representation the indigenous and lower class people in the country.
The coup should have not been done in the first place and became a symbolic representation of cynical U. S action to the Latin American people. By the mid-1960s, came the terrifying abuses of human rights by Paramilitary death squads whom promoted n a murderous campaign against political dissenters. Approximately less than 30,000 people were killed between 1966 and 1982 from, most notoriously known as Mano Blanca (“White Hand”) and Ojo por Ojo (“Eye for an Eye”) which the government indirectly was linked to and responsible for.
Moving away from the coup into more modern times, comes a more publicized and known sequence of events in Latin America and globally, the Guatemalan genocide or “silent holocaust”. As an article on Newsweek states, “There’s a common phrase that Guatemalans say about violence in their country: En Guatemala, la vida no vale nada. In Guatemala, life is worth nothing. “. This statement still remains true and engraved in the memories of Guatemalans everywhere. During the country’s traumatizing and genocidal 36 year civil war, approximately 200,000 people were killed or “disappeared” and buried in mass graves.
The worst part of this was that 83% of those killed were indigenous Maya. 93% of the human rights violations that occurred were carried out by government forces and backed by the CIA. This puts a focus on the lack of basic rights many indigenous people have despite making close to half of the country’s population. They are treated terribly and outcasted to the less popular and un toured areas of the country lacking the needs necessary to live that the more privileged people have. They lacked opportunities and became victims of the civil unrest taking place.
Also, at this time there was little to no free expression for those who called for a change, regardless of their race or appearance. Liberty was only for the wealth and those with power which modified the social structure of the entire country. Even students and teachers were assassinated or disappeared, while newspaper offices were bombed due to the lack of reedom of speak, formation and protection. The government failed to acknowledge the bigger picture of the situation and the crippling security the people were feeling.
The government fueled the attacks on protesters, activists, and social democrats that were against their views using their own police. With the rising gang violence and instability of the people, many resorted to violence and in turn, gangs gained power indirectly a cause of the lack of government control and trust. The aftermath caused Guatemala to slowly recover from its civil war, which is hard to do when so many civilians that had taken part in the atrocities ere now shielded by an amnesty law bitterly resented by victims. There were also many guerrillas and ex-soldiers to demobilise and resettle.
All the same, a policy of reconciliation was introduced and, with difficulty, maintained. Key People Guatemala’s struggle with maintaining just platforms and representatives in their government can be seen through many key people in a positive and negative light. This caused Guatemala to be known as the ‘Kingdom of Impunity’. The end of major civil unrest triggered the need for the truth and efforts to hold the perpetrators accountable to face many obstacles. For most cases, those who have attempted to unmask the perpetrators of atrocities have themselves become targets.
In September 1990, Myrna Mack Chang, a renowned Guatemalan anthropologist, was stabbed to death in Guatemala City by a military death squad. She was targeted in retaliation for her courageous fieldwork on the destruction of rural Mayan communities. The indigenous people are also victims to the violations and exploitations of their rights. They are underrepresented and lack the oppurtunities and education to better themselves out of fear of forced assimilation and losing the culture they have worked so hard to maintain. Other than the victims, are the people that feed into the injustices being committed.
Recent perpetrators include the Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and his Vice President Roxana Baldetti . Molina and Baldetti were charged and arrested following revelations into a customs fraud they allegedly oversaw. Between taking office in January 2012 and April 2015, the pair received an estimated $38 million in illicit kickbacks on appromiately 70 state contracts. Instead of contibuting to the country’s growth Molina and Baldetti put this money to personal use buying properties, vacations, and luxurious items.
This ontributes to the lack of relaiance and trust the guatemalan people have in their government. The military and police also play a key role in the violations of the people’s rights. Since Guatemala has weak rule of laws and high crime rates, and businesses and civilians do not consider the police to be reliable in protecting them from crime or enforcing order. The military i also used by the government to maintain internal security and policing, despite the large number military personnel exploiting their networks for corrupt and illegal purposes by taking bribes, etc.
An Alternative There are many activist, unions and organizations today ttempting to a permanent end to the injustices and violations committed by the government. A major participate is the independent organization, The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). As stated on Telesur, a popular news broadcasting medium, it was created in December 2006 by the United Nations on the request of the Guatemalan government, officially in order “to eradicate illegal groups and clandestine security structures that operate in Guatemala”.
Those that originally refused the idea of the CICIG, later were exposed of corruption which proves that the organization’s involvement is working. There are many people that have had enough of the corruption scandals and lack of basic neccessities. As stated by Adriana Beltran, a security analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, “For them to say, ‘We’re paying taxes and the state is not able to provide basic services because they’re embezzling or stealing them,’ I think that eventually just kind of was the drop that overflowed the cup”.
The Guatemlan people has started mobements and massive protests that are far from new for them and are no longer remaining silent to these injustices. Amnesty International is also and organization that iniates campaigns nd works to protect human rights in the americas and continues to educate the public on the injustices occuring from a social justice prespective. Other Relevant And Critical Information It is important to realize that violations such as these occur everywhere and unfortunately are not always paid attention to.
Practically every country in Latin America has dealt with government corruption leading into violations against the rights of their own people. Violence and extortion by powerful criminal organizations remains a serious problem in Guatemala just like in many of its neighbouring countries. Corruption within the justice system, combined with intimidation against judges and prosecutors, contributes to high levels of impunity. Unwanted and unnecessary foreign involvement is also a large part of this issue.
The SOA or School of Assassins was under the U. S Foreign Policy, and was extremely oppressive and triggered a genocide of Latin American people. The rights of people were robbed and abused as the graduates or “soldiers” of the SOA were taught deadly combat skills to be used against their own people. brings attention to the lack of government help and obvious government corruption. Major Joseph Blair, an instructor at the SOA for three years, acknowledges the faults and effect this had on the Latin American people.
He tells of the SOA graduates: Roberto Viola and Leopoldo Galtieri who became part of the military dictators who orchestrated the coup in Argentina that resulted in 30,000 people being “disappeared”. This situation is similar to the events that happened in the Guatemalan coup and is only one of the multiple imjustices the SOA has done. SOA targetted and deployed their soldiers to countries that were weak and vulnerable creating scars that will continously be remembered.