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Guatemala in the 1960s: Vigilantes or Government Operatives?

Young political officer William Newlin arrived in Guatemala in early 1966 amidst worsening political and social chaos.  As the civil war raged, thousands of people began disappearing from universities, churches, and media institutions. The Guatemalan government claimed that a right-wing insurgency group was orchestrating the disappearances—the Mano Blanca (White Hand).  An official, top-secret U.S. government […]

Getting the U.S. President to Write to the President of Guatemala About Human Rights (Hint – It’s Who You Know)

With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. began to put greater emphasis on enforcing its policy of protecting human rights worldwide, based on the core belief that people have a set of inviolable rights simply on grounds of being human. Some foreign counterparts were skeptical that the U.S. would give priority to human […]

Drogas y Derechos Humanos: Changing U.S. Policy towards Guatemala

In June 1954 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, concerned about the threat of communism in Guatemala, assisted in the overthrow of the government led by President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. A five-member junta assumed power. Following communications with Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry and consultations with countries in Central America, the U.S. determined that the new Guatemalan government […]

Cleaning up America’s Backyard: The Overthrow of Guatemala’s Arbenz

The Central Intelligence Agency launched a covert operation on June 18, 1954 to overthrow the left-leaning government in Guatemala. The coup, code-named Operation PBSUCCESS, deposed Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz Guzman, ended the Guatemalan Revolution and installed the military dictatorship of Carlos Castillo Armas. Armas would be the first in a series of U.S.-backed strongmen to […]

Presidents, Russians, and Diplomatic Wives: Anecdotes from a Voice of America Newsman

Journalist Euguene F. Karst knew the importance of words. He personally witnessed how communication could highlight the opinions of little known Russian farmers but also lead to embarrassing misunderstandings for the President of the United States. Through the Office of War Information, Voice of America, and other reporting, Karst worked to spread the principles and […]

Hurricane Mitch Devastated Nicaragua, But Helped Improve Relations With the U.S.

Slow-moving, coast-hugging Hurricane Mitch devastated Nicaragua in October 1998. The United States organized a massive disaster response, and President Clinton and a host of other dignitaries visited to see the results. Our aid improved military-to-military ties and helped Ambassador Lino Gutierrez pursue better relations twenty years after Nicaragua’s bitter civil war. A Category 5 hurricane, […]

Latino American Ambassadors

Latino Americans have some of the lowest rates of participation in the federal workforce making it incredibly difficult for them to represent the United States within the foreign service. Nevertheless, the number of Latino American diplomats continue to grow thanks to the trailblazing work of many former and current ambassadors: Mari-Luci Jaramillo was the first […]

USAID’s Work with an Unsung Hero of the Fight Against Apartheid in South Africa: Dullah Omar

USAID worked intensively with the new South African government after the fall of apartheid in 1994.  William Stacy Rhodes was at the heart of these efforts, serving as Mission Director from 1998-2002.  He recalls working closely with Dullah Omar, Nelson Mandela’s lawyer in the darkest days of apartheid and the first Minister of Justice in […]