San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemalan V.P.: U.S. Conducted 17 Types of Experiments on Guatemalans

GUATEMALA CITY – The United States carried out 17 different types of medical experiments on approximately 1,500 Guatemalans by intentionally infecting them with venereal diseases in the 1940s, Guatemalan Vice President Rafael Espada told the press.

Officials already have data on the medical projects and the information is being investigated by a commission headed by the vice president with help from the United States, Espada said.

The experiments were performed by U.S. scientists on the mentally ill, prostitutes, prisoners and soldiers in the Central American nation between 1946 and 1948, Espada said. The Guatemalans were infected intentionally with syphilis and gonorrhea, among other diseases.

The U.S. government has already provided about 90 percent of the scientific information about the experiments and the documents will be opened when the commission investigating the matter is fully constituted with medical experts and translators to avoid mistakes and misunderstandings, the vice president said.

Guatemalan physicians Jorge Solares and Jose Guillermo Monroy have joined the commission, he added. Solares will be the coordinator in Guatemala and Monroy, who lives in Paraguay, will be the liaison with the United States, Espada said.

The investigation, which will be financed by the United Nations, could last at least six months, Espada said.

The existence of the experiments was revealed on Oct. 1, and that same day President Barack Obama contacted Alvaro Colom, his Guatemalan counterpart, to express his profound regret over the experiments.

Colom said that the medical experiments directed by U.S. physician John Cutler were “horrifying” and crimes against humanity, adding that the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) was aware of them.

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