U.S. Freedom on Foreign Soil

guatemala_syphilisThroughout the 1940‘s, U.S. government medical researchers purposefully and secretly infected more than 2,500 Guatemalans with various STD’s.

Purposefully, because the researchers could not perform such illegal experimentation on Americans, and therefore chose to do so on foreign peoples.

Secretly, because the U.S. government did not want Americans, nor anyone in the international community, to learn about the immoral experimentations.

As reported by Rob Stein for The Washington Post, at the helm of the Gutemala experiments was the infamous Dr. Taliaferro Clark who, in the 1930’s conducted similar illegal and immoral syphilis experimentation on African-American males for the notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.


Says Stein, the tests in Guatemala were carried out using many methods, including direct injection of syphilis into open wounds, and “putting infectious material on the cervixes of uninfected prostitutes” who were then brought to men in order to infect the men, as well, through intercourse.

David Mercer, in a report for Al Jazeera, details the reason for the experiments and the victims chosen: “American doctors went to Guatemala to infect people with sexually transmitted diseases in order to test the effects of penicillin. The doctors infected orphans, prisoners, psychiatric patients, and conscripted soldiers.”

Eighty-seven year old Frederico Ramos, one of many Guatemalan victims of these research experiments, says, “They didn’t tell me anything. They just injected me. I thought it was medicine, helpful for the body.”

guatemala-syphilis-experiment-victimsU.S. researchers deliberately targeted the poor in Guatemala, and offered monetary stipends in exchange for allowing themselves to be unknowingly injected with deadly viruses.

Says Mercer, “Like Frederico and his family, most people infected by the diseases lived in poverty. It is precisely because of their lack of resources that receiving some form of financial compensation was so important.”

Documentation uncovering this secret U.S. governmental research mission was revealed in 2010, and exposed that the experiments continued far beyond the 1940’s. Guatemalan victims have testified to being injected multiple times throughout the 1960‘s. And although the U.S. cites only 1,300 victims, the Medical Association of Guatemala’s ongoing investigation has thus far uncovered over 2,500 victims.

guatemala-syphilis-victimSyphilis-maimed victims, and the families of victims who died as a result of the illegal experimentations, filed law suits against the United States government and its medical researchers.

But all claims were dismissed in June of this year.

Says International Human Rights Advocate, Piper Hendricks, “The United States asserted sovereign immunity, saying that the Guatemalan plaintiffs could not sue the U.S. government in this case. The dismissal was based on the fact that the [crime] took place on foreign soil.

So, here we are nearly 70 years later, and that decision to hide what they were doing in an effort to get away with it is paying off.”

The message from the U.S. in this case appears to be that although it’s okay to commit crimes against humanity on foreign soil, it’s not okay to be held accountable for them.


What do you think about this?

Do you think it affects America’s reputation in the international community?

Should the U.S. be held accountable, or is it water under the bridge?


World News Wednesday


18 thoughts on “U.S. Freedom on Foreign Soil

  1. Pingback: Guatemalan syphilis victims lose hope in legal battle against US | Laura B Williams Designs

  2. Pingback: Diary of an American Girl’s Journeys to the Forbidden Land (Excerpt 29) | Sylver Blaque

  3. The Government is one entity. The individuals permitting, and/or administering this program under the auspices of the U.S. Government are guilty of a crime in ethics, if nothing else. This is directed at any one person within the government who may be responsible.

    I say this with the understanding, our government, many times fails in representation of the majority. Most of us are not capable or, would we desire any such program to be administered in our name.

    There are some individuals operating within the government who, shouldn’t be operating anywhere but, from a jail cell.

    • Hi, Dave. You are so right, in jail is where these people should be – which would have meant jailing nearly an entire section of our government, including President Truman since he was the man who signed off on these experiments.

      The program was implemented by the United States Public Health Service, under the direction of the U.S. Surgeon General, and funded by the U.S. National Institute of Health – which is an arm of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. We probably would have needed to construct a new prison complex to house all the government officials who perpetrated this monstrosity of a crime against humanity with charges beginning with ethics and culminating in murder, since many of these Guatemalan victims died as a result of this secret program.

      But alas, we acquitted ourselves instead. 😐

  4. What a cruel act, using Guatemala’s for the experiment, it is unacceptable action, just to make sure experiments works, tsk! tsk! In my opinion US should be accountable for this because they used them without even letting them knew that they are using for such experiment, they are human and should be treated with respect…

    • I agree, it is unacceptable. Unfortunately, this is only one of many times we’ve done this to foreigners, and minorities in our own country. If Americans knew the extent of such egregious acts, I am sure we would not allow it to continue. At least, I hope we wouldn’t. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  5. nothing could affect US reputation in the international community any more. The reputations has already hit rock bottom! The thing that really screws it all up is hypocrisy. It would be easier to forgive Saddam Hussein, a self proclaimed devil, for conducting hideous acts, than to see the US, self proclaimed messiah of freedom, condone such cruelty.

    • Very valid point. I think the root of the problem is the secrecy & silence that hides these atrocities from American citizens who, if they knew about it, would hopefully rise up against it & force the government to halt such actions which endanger us all in the long run by creating hatred for us, which leads to retaliatory action against us.

        • This is true, however there are as many places where hatred & resentment is directed at us as a people. I’ve experienced this, and have been told many times in many countries that the reason for this is: 1. They don’t understand how those of us who know about the destruction caused by our foreign policies do nothing about it. They don’t understand our apathy. They are angry that we do not use our power as citizens in a democracy to temper the actions of our government & our corporations, and 2. They don’t understand how so many of us don’t know about the destruction caused by our foreign policies. This really confounds them, leading many to believe that we do know but choose patriotism or the continuation of our own comforts at the expense of the destruction of the lives of foreign peoples rather than humanity. And they are livid about our greed. I cannot tell you how many foreigners have informed me that the U.S. is only 5% of the global population, but we use 30% of the world’s resources. It’s quite an ugly quagmire…

          • I know what you mean and I wouldn’t be worried too much about what other people (at least most of them) think about Americans.No country is morally or ethically pure and people need to self reflect before pointing fingers at the U.S. Its just because US is perceived as a superpower in every sense, people like to make it a target of their frustrations. Its ironical that many of the people involved in US bashing will be the first ones to migrate to US soil if given a chance.

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