Central America, Guatemala, Latin America: Week in Review

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit By Guatemalans Infected In U.S. Experiments

June 15, 2012 By Staff

Top Story— U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton granted a motion by the U.S. federal government to dismiss a lawsuit by Guatemalan victims infected with STDs while U.S. researchers tested the effects of penicillin in the 1940s. According to Guatemalan officials, 2,082 people — most of them vulnerable members of Guatemalan society like orphans, prisoners, soldiers and mental patients who did not give consent — were deliberately infected with syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid in experiments funded by the predecessor of the National Institutes of Health to test different dosages of penicillin against different diseases. The U.S. says that 1,308 were infected. After the experiment was uncovered by a medical historian in 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius all apologized for the research. However, the U.S. did not respond to victims’ demands for an out-of-court claims process, and they were forced to file suit. Judge Walton called the experiments a “deeply troubling chapter in our nation’s history”, but said that that federal law bars claims against the U.S. based on injuries suffered in a foreign country.

Read more from the Miami Herald.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America


  • Dominican immigration officials said they are seeking to ban the children of illegal immigrants from the Dominican Republic’s public schools by requiring identification documents for enrollment.
  • Cuban dissident “Antúnez”, also known as Jorge Luis García Pérez, was reportedly released from jail after being detained for speaking by video to the U.S. Senate.
  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is hoping to stem child trafficking in Haitiafter two convicted traffickers were sentenced to 15 years in prison each, the first time human traffickers of Haitian children have been jailed in the Dominican Republic.

Central America


Southern Cone

Image: Håkan Dahlström @ Flickr.

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