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Guatemalans Sue US Over 1940′s Syphilis Infections

Foreign relations have often been a problem for the United States. What have we heard of Guatemala in the United States, other than the occasional friend or co-worker who goes there for a mission trip?

The Cold War greatly affected the United States relations with Guatemala, which remains extremely underdeveloped even in the present. In 1999, President Bill Clinton apologized for the U.S. support of state-sponsored terror in Guatemala, which displaced and claimed the lives of thousands, particularly within Guatemala’s Maya population.

Here, the colonial legacy remains relevant, as the divide between the rich, more Spanish population and that what is considered to be indigenous, poorer population has remained.

Now, the actions of the U.S. towards Guatemalans have become even more terrifying.

Medical historian Professor Susan Reverby of Wellesley College discovered a study conducted by US scientists in 1946 and 1948 in which hundreds of prisoners, orphans, and mentally ill individuals were intentionally infected with syphilis in a study on the effects of penicillin.

Though the U.S. apologized, this is not enough. As such, those infected and their relatives have filed multiple lawsuits against the U.S. It seems appropriate that Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom referred to the study as a “crime against humanity.”