Wednesday, March 11, 2009

War's costs in Guatemala

The Cat Lovers Against the Bomb (thanks, Nebraskans for Peace) reminded us that ten years ago yesterday, President Clinton said US aid to Guatamalen military was wrong. I did a little looking on internet to learn more about Guatemala's recent history. I feel regret and shame my government (for the people, by the people, of the people) helped harm so many innocent people.

Then, using the CIA fact book, I compared Guatemala to Costa Rica, a nation with no military, and with USA, a nation we are most familiar with. Here are a few comparison points

Suffrage 18 & universal , except members of Active military, who are confined to barracks
Population 4.2 million
GDP (gross domestic product) $49.73B $
GDP/person $5400
Life expectancy @ birth 69.99
Infant mortality (per 1000 births) 28.79
Literacy 69.1%
%GDP spent on education 2.6

Costa Rica
Suffrage - 18, universal and compulsory

Population 13 million

GDP - 70.19B

GDP per person- $11,000

Life expectancy @ birth 77.4

Infant mortality (per 1000 births) 9.1
Literacy 94.9%
%GDP spent on education 4.9

Suffrage 18 and universal
Population 303 million
GDP $14.58T(rillion)
GDP/person $48,000
Life expectancy @ birth 78.14
Infant mortality (per 1000 births) 6.3
Literacy 99%
% GDP spent on education 5.3

Costa Rica is little but by eliminating its military, has much more $$ available for health and education than does Guatemala. Costa Rica: no wars, high literacy, higher life expectancy. Dividends of peace.

I find it sad that Guatemala's active military is confined to quarters and cannot vote on election days. Guatemala has been stable for a few years now, and I hope it lasts. Guatemala vividly illustrates the costs of war. High infant mortality, shortest life expectancy in our hemisphere, rampant poverty, incalculable impacts from human rights abuses.

Yes Mr. Clinton, the US's role in supporting the Guatemala military was wrong.

No comments: