Acquired Amnesia Syndrome: On US Medical Experiments in Guatemala

Irina Lebedeva

Last October, headlines in US media were grabbed by reports showing that some six decades ago US “researchers” deliberately exposed Guatemalans to syphilis and gonorrhea. The revelations forced the US to apologize. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a statement saying: “The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical. Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices”.

What seems strange about the whole story is that the US did make an apology for what was done ages ago. US history abounds with cases where one or another American Doctor Mengele subjected humans to experiments with a panacea against some XX or XXI century plague. Only once did Washington apologize before light was shed on the experiments conducted in Guatemala: in 1997 US President Bill Clinton expressed regrets over the Tuskegeeproject carried out in Alabama. The apology was triggered by the publication of data unearthed by Susan M. Reverby of Wellesley College (Massachustes), then an activist of a female committee which took a bite at the Tuskegee case.

According to official reports on the Tuskegee project, 600 African Americans - sons and grandsons of slaves - of whom 399 were allegedly diagnosed with syphilis and 201 were healthy, were subjected to “a medical study”. Many of the people had never seen a doctor prior to the experiment. The authors of the experiments circulated free medical treatment invitations among African American males in a church and at cotton plantations, offering them to consent to a medical checkup to be carried by mobile field brigades. Those who were picked for a study of natural evolution of syphilis in African American males were told that they had “bad blood” and were kept in the dark about the actual cause of their conditions and the purposes of the study. No medications were provided. The Tuskegee experiment subjects who lost eyesight and were exhausted by endless blood and backbone marrow tests were watched without treatment for 40 years. The study was to end with an autopsy as the final part, and the US government provided a funeral insurance in the amount of $50 to secure the consent of the people's families to it. The last of the people thus treated died in 2004.

In Guatemala, numbers of adults, senior-aged people, and children were deliberately exposed to venereal diseases. The “studies” were conducted on four groups of Guatemalans – central penitentiary convicts, soldiers, National Mental Health Hospital patients, and children aged 6-16 from an orphanage. Thousands of convicts were in the majority of cases infected during contacts with prostitutes who were allowed to service inmates as a result of penitentiary system democratization promoted by Rockefeller's “Christian missions”. The prostitutes were exposed to syphilis or gonorrhea beforehand in the process of medical checkups.

According to S. Reverby, she discovered evidence of the “experiments” in Guatemala by chance during her tenure at Wellesley College. The story began to unfold in a fictional manner as Reverby did not go public with her findings for several years. Her recent book on the disgraceful Tuskegee project [1] contained no mentioning of the one performed in Guatemala. In 2010, S. Reverby was awarded the US public health service's prestigious Arthur Viseltear Prizefor her study.

As reported by the media, S. Reverby contacted former director of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. David Sencer who had helped her on the Tuskegee book. He asked if she would mind his showing her new work to other people before it gets published. That was how her inadvertent finding got the green light [2].

The US media did not comment on the ethical aspects of the reference to D. Sencer, the former coordinator of the syphilis study project whose name had long been invoked whenever the high-ranking US officials responsible for denying medications to the African Americans exploited in the Tuskegee experiments were listed. Nor did the media explain that the institution rather neutrally titled the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is a complex-structured organization including top-secret military divisions handling the US ecological and bacteriological security. The Center is occasionally described as the medical analog of the CIA and linked to various epidemic covert operations, pseudo-pandemics, and campaigns of brain-washing in the interests of global corporations.

One gets an impression that the surprising lack of information on the experiments in Guatemala, the recurrence of the venereal disease theme, and the fact that the same characters were involved in the Tuskegee and Guatemalan projects prompted Obama's advisers to “reset” one of the key problems of the US and global medicine. The advancement of mass transnational medical services across the third world in accord with the Millennium Development Goals invented by B. Clinton and approved by the UN runs into the roadblock of the black populations' widespread mistrust of the “white” medicine, a reaction bred by the Tuskegee project.

The PR objective of the campaign of belated apologies over the experiments in Guatemala is clear: the events which symbolize the US racism in the minds of African Americans are to be replaced with a drama which may be no less grim but took place six decades ago and in another country: Guatemalans were deliberately exposed to venereal disease while those in the US - “only” denied treatment.

The hidden agenda behind the research was to gather information on how people survive the disease depending on their genes and hereditary characteristics. The researchers were divided over the issue. Some believed that syphilis mainly affected the central nervous system in the whites and the cardiovascular system – in the blacks. Others – Norwegian researchers who held US grants – were convinced that the cardiovascular system was also the first to be affected in the whites. The Tuskegee project created opportunities to probe into the resistivity in various target groups when the disease progressed unattended, which was of interest to the military rather than civilian medicine. In the US, blacks perceive the Tuskegee project roughly the same way as Europeans – the “experiments” perpetrated by Nazi “doctor” Mengele. The Tuskegee disgrace reportedly went on for 40 years – from 1932 till 1972.

Memories of the Nuremberg trial were still fresh in the world when in 1946-1948 US doctor C. Cutler and his local aide J. Funes staged their racist experiments on the unwitting target group, paying for the participation with cigarettes, promises of penicillin, furniture donations to the orphanage, or free medical checkups. The experimentalists felt safe knowing that the US – the country which had beaten Nazism – would not leave them in trouble, and these days the perpetrators have nothing to worry about either. On September 30, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention posted on its site an apology and a laconic comment asserting that the research was OKed by the Guatemalan government. By the way, after World War II J. Funes, the aide to the American “doctor Mengele”, represented Guatemala in the US as a high-positioned medical official and a World Health Organization (WHO) expert. These days, the plenitude of side effects caused by vaccines promoted with the WHO help, mass infections from tinted vaccines in the third world, swine and bird flu epidemics, and the AIDS industry furnish evidence that the cause of the Nazi doctor Mengele is alive and the population reduction agenda built into the Millennium Development Goals continues to be implemented.

When B. Gates pledged half of his fortune to charities and summoned his peers - Warren Buffett and Ted Turner – to join in, there could be little doubt as to where the money would go and what ills would be addressed. The type of individuals are sure that their fortunes will swell thanks to global poverty, disease, and climate change. B. Gates' miraculous vaccine, his miraculous grain, and his medical care in line with civilized standards were offered as a panacea against the global warming. Given the context of the billionaire's speeches about the irresponsibility of the people whose unchecked proliferation harms the planet, the offer of a panacea to Africans sounds sinister. Not only Africans are facing the threat, in fact: recently radioactive grain was found in Russia's Kazan' city. Radioactive oats were also tested in the US, but eventually compensations had to be paid and apologies – delivered. The Boston Globe wrote about the sufferings endured by the whites in Boston [2], citing rather boldly the parallels with the Tuskegeeproject.

What do we have at the bottom line? Of course, Russia is not Guatemala, but if it lets proponents of reset and various investors fool itself into depopulation, in some 60 years there will be nobody left in the vast uninhabited country to listen to the apologies issued by Western humanists.

[1] Susan M. Reverby. Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and its legacy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009
[2] Wellesley professor unearths a horror: Syphilis experiments in Guatemala

Robert Parry: Guatemala: A Test Tube of Repression

Illustration: © Unknown
Article published here: Strategic Culture Foundation


Health topic page on womens health Womens health our team of physicians Womens health breast cancer lumps heart disease Womens health information covers breast Cancer heart pregnancy womens cosmetic concerns Sexual health and mature women related conditions Facts on womens health female anatomy Womens general health and wellness The female reproductive system female hormones Diseases more common in women The mature woman post menopause Womens health dedicated to the best healthcare
buy viagra online