Local Government

These are two seperate statements. Please argue why you DISAGREE with the statements below. Only using 2 pieces of evidence from https://www.thisamericanlife.org/465/transcript.

Please answer separately 200 words per statement.

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Statement #1

This process of capital invasion and ruthless suppression of the still-present guerrilla insurgency persisted in the 1970s. Between 1979 and the middle of 1980, the military killed more than 3000 civilians. The one departure from the depressing routine was the Carter government’s cut-off of US assistance to Guatemala, which vowed a new focus on foreign policy focused on human rights. Help ended in 1977, but congressional loopholes, as well as money secretly sent through the CIA according to the NYTimes, enabled the continuation of such assistance. In addition, until 1983, when Reagan restored support, Taiwan and Israel (two powerful US allies and beneficiaries of its aid) continued to supply cash and military pieces. The emphasis on human rights could not deter American realpolitik, and the atrocities did not lead to an end.

In 1982, in a military coup supported by the United States and most of the Guatemalan officer corps, President Lucas (presiding over a stagnating, inflating, foreign-debt ridden, corrupt economy) was ousted. Montt, who was educated at the Inter-American Defense College in the US, took over the presidency. The efficiency of the killings increased under his rule, the breaking of the indigenous link with the land continued and in a new strategy.

I think that the United States should strive to be a world leader on human rights as to create meaningful change for human rights outside its borders, the United States has the strength, influence and money. When the United States partners with others to support and protect them, the global protection of human rights is more vital. While US politicians frequently support human rights and humanitarian principles, the United States has been inconsistent with protecting human rights abroad and has been complicit in its foreign policies and involvement, or has committed severe abuses.

Statement #2:

During the Cold War, U.S. policy regarding human rights abuses in Guatemala surrounded around taking no action toward protecting Guatemalans but instead turning a blind eye. The effects of U.S. intervention in promoting dictator leadership created turmoil and internal war within Guatemala, all for the sake of political alliances for the United States. Despite the destruction caused by aiding in taking down the president who the U.S. saw as a communist threat, there was no regard for the human rights of Guatemalans. The U.S. policy was to simply do nothing in regard to human rights, ignoring the needs of civilians and continuously backing the military actions. One example of a negative consequence of this policy was the slaughtering of tens of thousands of people. Ira Glass states in the podcast, “A truth commission found that the number of Guatemalans killed or disappeared by their own government was over 180,000.” Because the U.S. supported the military and the power they held to take advantage of the civilian population, whole villages were destroyed and the lives of those in them were taken. This was preceded by rape and torture toward the majority of women and young girls. Not only did this policy take innocent lives, but it also displaced thousands of Guatemalans. Not only would the destruction take away the homes of the people, but some children were even taken from the massacres, such as Oscar Ramirez. Oscar lived his whole life unaware of his past after being taken by one of the soldiers that killed most of his family in the Dos Erres massacre. His life was forever changed, and not as a grown adult he must live with the pain and confusion of the truth. Not only this, some survivors had it much more difficult than Oscar. Ramiro, the boy taken from the same village as Oscar, was abused by the man from the Guatemalan military that took him. He suffered in his childhood because the U.S. ignored the multitude of lives being taken and destroyed.

I believe that human rights should be a priority in American foreign policy over geopolitical considerations because of the mass destruction and continued issues that focus on geopolitical factors causes. Due to the power of the American government, there is a large influence on other countries, especially seen through Latin America, that corrupts the government for the sake of U.S. geopolitical goals. One example of why human rights should be the priority can be seen in the lasting effects in Guatemala to this day. The government continues to lack support for its citizens and internal corruption within the country continues as a result of U.S. intervention. The results of civil war and displacement of people are still seen, as poverty levels remain low, women don’t even have access to healthcare, and those in the margins of society struggle to gain economic opportunity. Human rights should be vital in foreign policy to prevent this hardship for countries. Another example of why human rights should be the priority is in the problem of the U.S. supporting governments that abuse their citizens, impacting the integrity of the country. As seen in the case with Guatemala, there was a greater threat to the people of the country after the intervention. Rather than centering the foreign relation solely on U.S. geopolitical ideals, human rights should guide decisions on aid. In other foreign policies such as in Vietnam, there was a disregard for human rights as well, as the U.S. destroyed villages and lives. Continuous support of military-controlled states places the U.S. in a negative light and presents to our allies that there is no regard for citizens but only for what will politically help America.

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