• Costa Rica Travel Insurance
  • Costa Rica Coffee Guide

Guatemala could compensate US syphilis experiment victims

December 14, 2015

GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala is considering compensation for the family of three people who were victims of a 1940s U.S.-led medical experiment in which hundreds were infected with syphilis, Vice President Alfonso Fuentes said Monday.

“They have been heard, and what they are asking for is some form of damages,” Fuentes told reporters, adding that the government is studying the option of providing “financial and moral” reparation.

The family’s relatives were part of a 1946-1948 experiment conducted by U.S. health officials in which 1,300 people in Guatemala — prisoners, prostitutes, soldiers and mental patients — were deliberately exposed to or contaminated with venereal diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea. At least 83 of those involved in the experiment died, according to a U.S. presidential commission. The aim was to see what effects antibiotics would have.

The fact the subjects were never informed of what was being done to them prompted U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010 to apologize for what he termed a “crime against humanity.”

Obama vowed to promote ways to remedy the wrong, but made no concrete offer of compensation.

The unethical experiment was revealed by Dr. Susan Reverby, a professor at Wellesley College in the U.S. She came across the work while researching notes left by John Charles Cutler, a public health services sexual disease specialist who headed up the experiment, following his death in 2003.

Cutler was also involved in another infamous U.S. medical experiment that for half a century up to 1972 studied the progression of untreated syphilis in poor U.S. black residents in Alabama.

Last April, a $1 billion lawsuit was filed in the U.S. on behalf of 774 plaintiffs against Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Foundation for the Guatemala experiments, CNN reported. A similar 2012 class-action lawsuit was dismissed.

You may be interested

Cantons under an Orange Alert in Costa Rica [August 12]
Costa Rica
608 views
Costa Rica
608 views

Cantons under an Orange Alert in Costa Rica [August 12]

The Tico Times - August 12, 2020

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) has changed the coronavirus alert level for several cantons. The header photo in this story…

Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Tuesday, August 11
Costa Rica
21882 views
Costa Rica
21882 views

Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Tuesday, August 11

Alejandro Zúñiga - August 11, 2020

Costa Rica announced 11 new coronavirus-related deaths over the past day for a total of 255, according to official data…

Costa Rica to face Mexico at Estadio Azteca in September
Costa Rica
3090 views
Costa Rica
3090 views

Costa Rica to face Mexico at Estadio Azteca in September

Alejandro Zúñiga - August 11, 2020

The Costa Rica men's national soccer team will face Mexico next month in an international friendly at the venerable Estadio…