American Accountability Project: The Guatemala Genocide
Background -> Commission Reports & Projects Introduction
In 1954, the U.S. State Department and the CIA sponsored a
covert operation resulting in the overthrow of the
President, Jacobo Arbenz. Following the coup, the U.S.
maintained close ties with every successive, non-democratic government
in Guatemala. From
the 1950s until the 1990s, the U.S. directly supported
Guatemala's army by supplying it with combatant training, weaponry, and
money. The U.S.
sent the Green Berets to Guatemala to transform its Army into a
"modern counter-insurgency force," making their army the most powerful
in Central America. The CIA also created a list comprised of
those Guatemalan leaders who were targeted for assassination. The U.S.
used the potential threat of communism to justify its support
for the Guatemalan government and its activities against the alleged
The CIA directly employed Guatemalan military personnel in
Guatemala with which it maintained continuous communications regarding
operations. Those Guatemalan personnel hired by the CIA were
referred to as "assets." As documented by the Guatemalan Historical
Commission and the Intelligence Oversight Board, assets
committed egregious acts of violence on the citizens of Guatemala
Mass indiscriminate killings defined as "genocide" by the Historical Clarification Commission
Widespread and systematic torture
Policies of genocide such as the "Scorched Earth" operations
U.S. support for the Guatemalan State directly contributed to
the creation of 36-years of terror by successor dictators. This support
military training in counterinsurgent techniques, financing of
actions resulting in human rights violations, and close collaboration
intelligence units. According to the Historical Clarification
Commission, 93% of human rights violations and acts of violence are
to the Army. The Historical Clarification Commission documents
the following human rights violations committed by the Guatemalan State:
The deaths or disappearances of over 200,000 persons
The carrying out of over 600 massacres
The elimination of leaders of those organizations in defense of human rights
The mass extermination of defenseless Mayan communities, including children, women, and the elderly
Damage to many Mayan communities homes, cattle, crops, and other elements essential for survival
Multiple acts of cruelty and savagery either preceding, accompanying, or occurring after the deaths of the victims
A systematic practice of forced disappearances
The rape of women as a common practice
A systematic practice of arbitrary executions
Counterinsurgency tactics, including psychological warfare, propaganda, and intimidation
Death squads used to eliminate alleged members, allies, or collaborators of those considered "subversives"
Systematic denial of habeus corpus, continuous
interpretation of the law favorable to the authorities, indifference to
the torture of those
detained, and limitations on the right to defense
Forced and discriminatory military recruitment, including minors under the age of fifteen.
Failure of the Army to make the distinctions between the enemy and the civilian populations
"Genocide" as defined by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
In 1997, the Clinton Administration agreed to open secret
documents regarding the human rights atrocities in Guatemala for the
Commission. The Clarification Commissions exposure of U.S.
complicity in Guatemala over the past 36 years prompted President
Clinton to offer a
formal and unequivocal apology on March 10, 1999. Disclosure of
U.S. complicity in Guatemala is now widely available through numerous
editorials across the U.S. that have condemned the actions of
the U.S. government in Guatemala. The Americas Accountability Project
seeks to hold
U.S. government officials who participated in the Guatemalan
genocide accountable for their actions. The Project is providing NGOs
information and support necessary to bring "Pinochet" actions
against responsible U.S. officials when they visit abroad, and to
support legal actions
in the U.S. against responsible U.S. officials through the use
of jus cogens. As a peremptory norm, jus cogens provides the possibility
traditional shields of sovereign immunity and other defenses
against challenges to state actions.
Outlines the history behind the CIA-sponsored coup against
President Arbenz. It includes information regarding the influences of the
United Fruit Company, Green Berets, death squads, G-2, and their efforts
to suppress opposition
Includes a summary of the historical and political factors
leading to the 1954 coup against President Arbenz. It examines the impact
of anti-Communist propaganda and similar circumstances leading to the coup
and ensuing acts of repression.
Offers a detailed history behind US involvement in the 1954 coup against
President Arbenz and the U.S.s following support for Guatemalan dictators.
Also includes U.S. and Truth Commissions reporting on the assassination of
Monsignor Juan Gerardi and reports on the genocide of the Mayan community.
A brief account of Guatemalas 35 year civil war. Includes information
about the 1954 coup against President Arbenz, the influence of the
US-owned United Fruit Company, the Scorched Earth Campaign, and the
Commission for Historical Clarifications findings of complicity.
Offers a brief discussion of CIA operations,
PBSUCCESS and PBFORTUNE. Also gives explanations of selected
declassified CIA documents.
Such documents reveal instructional guides on assassinations
and lists of those to be "neutralized." This site also includes links to
the actual declassified documents.
Ccontains the press packet compiled for the Lowenstein Project at
Yale Law School. The press packet includes background information on the
Historical Clarification Commission, the history of the war in Guatemala,
a chronological timeline marking major events in Guatemalas civil war,
U.S. involvement in Guatemalan affairs, the problems of impunity, photos,
Includes background information on CIA involvement in the overthrow of
Jacobo Arbenz and the Scorched Earth Campaign, and their use of
assassination plots and psychological operations to preclude opposition.
This site focuses on the CIA-sponsored coup to overthrow Jacobo Arbenz.
Includes and explains CIA covert tactics such as propaganda, nerve war,
and provocation used to intimidate Arbenz and his administration. Also
emphasizes the impact of the coup as becoming a model for future CIA
actions in Latin America.