Healing the Hurt of War and Violence: Guatemalan Government Apologizes for US-Sponsored Coup of 1954

October 21, 2011

Huge spiritual news from Guatemala. Today’s New York Times reports that

More than a half-century after Guatemala’s elected president Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was overthrown in a coup planned by the C.I.A. and forced into a wandering exile, President Alvaro Colom apologized on Thursday for what he called a “great crime.”

While much of the media adopted the ‘too little, too late’ theme in their headlines ( NYT-An Apology for a Guatemalan Coup, 57 Years Later, BBC’-Guatemala ‘sorry’ for Arbenz coup) I actually saw this story and thought “What a colossally great thing!”  “Great” because, for anyone that has some sense of the staying power of violence-induced trauma in Guatemala and other Central American countries during the wars of the 1980’s, it’s obvious that today’s apology represents a colossal contribution to the necessary  healing of the collective psychic wounds of war & violence. The apology institutionalizes and attacks directly the erasure of memory that keeps these psychic wounds of war and violence perpetually festering. Makes one look (momentarily) past the political calculations that likely inform this move by the failed left (allegedly) government of President Colom.

Nonetheless, this is psychically huge for un pais tan sufrido like Guatemala.

As important is that the United States respond to former President Jacobo Arbenz, who, after the coup, declared “Here started the injustice and I [call on] the United States to recognize their errors.” The US sponsored the military and deployed the CIA in the political and human tragedy that followed the coup:systematic assassinations, disappearances, torture and other crimes against humanity. The US government should follow the lead of the Guatemalan government with a formal apology to the Guatemalan people for its Definitive role in the 54 coup-and its bloody laundry list of crimes against humanity in Guatemala (and throughout the world) One Fine Day.

Still, I join my Guatemalan friends in celebrating this victory of Truth over Amnesia…

3 Responses to “Healing the Hurt of War and Violence: Guatemalan Government Apologizes for US-Sponsored Coup of 1954”

  1. Mara Says:

    Roberto, Thank you for calling our attention to this. The legacy of trauma is carried in behaviors, beliefs, fears, coping mechanisms, resilience, other strengths, physical and mental illnesses, etc. It shapes who we are and how we move in the world … Sometimes without our even knowing. The legacy of trauma is carried through generations, and affects people who weren’t alive when the trauma took place. “When at last truth is revealed, pain subsides and wound heal.” Sometimes trauma is so deep and ingrained we don’t even know why we react so strongly to something. But we know healing when we feel it. It’s visceral. The United States has spread so much trauma in the world. I hope that someday it will apologize. And I pray that justice and with it, healing, will come to El Salvador someday, also.

    Paz, Hermano🙂

  2. Carlos Says:

    Thank you for posting


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