Center for Constitutional Rights Urges U.S. to Apologize for Involvement in 1954 Guatemalan Coup and Human Rights Violations

October 24, 2011 - In light of last Thursday’s official apology from the Guatemalan government to the family of President Arbenz for the coup d’état and subsequent human rights violations perpetrated by the Guatemalan state, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Rights Action issued an open letter today to President Obama asking the administration to follow their example and issue an apology on behalf of the U.S. government for its role.
To read full letter, click here.
“The United Nations’ independent Historical Clarification Commission in a report entitled ‘Memoria del Silencio,’ concluded that at least 200,000 Guatemalans were killed in the civil war that resulted from the 1954 coup, including 626 massacres, and that 93 percent of those violations were determined to have been committed by U.S.-supported military and paramilitary forces. Between the years of 1952 and 1954, the United States knowingly participated in psychological warfare, violations of international law, mass-manipulation of the Guatemalan people to further U.S. interests, human rights violations, and the illegal overthrow of a legitimate government.”
In the letter, the organizations elaborated on the economic interests that motivated the U.S. government’s involvement in the coup and the well-documented record of human rights violations that spanned the 36-year civil war which ensued after the imposition of President Carlos Castillo Armas’s illegitimate government.
“The willingness of the United States to support illegitimate governments in Latin America did not begin and unfortunately did not end with Guatemala. In fact, Guatemala was one of the most atrocious but still just one of the bloody, repressive and destabilizing interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean that the U.S. government supported over the last century. Unfortunately, this interventionism continues today. Your October 5, 2011 White House meeting with and pledged support for President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras in the aftermath of the June 2009 coup d’état and the subsequent illegitimate elections there is a cogent example of the United States’ continued wrongheaded policy approach to Latin America. Honduras is engulfed in a wave of politically motivated violence where scores of opposition activists and journalists have been murdered since the coup. Support for the repressive Lobo government is in direct contradiction to the nationwide peoples’ movement of Honduras which is demanding an end to impunity for the repression against their movement and accountability for the 2009 coup d’etat.”
CCR and Rights Action conclude the letter by urging President Obama to change the course of his administration’s foreign policy in Latin America and to put his words into action by ceasing to actively undermine Latin American peoples’ right to peacefully choose their leaders democratically and have these decisions be respected by the United States.


The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


Last modified 

October 25, 2011