• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

Reversing the effects of centuries of minority oppression is the latest brainchild of the Obama administration – but this time, U.S. taxpayer money will be spent to help correct past and present wrongs in the Central American nation of Guatemala.

The next step in this U.S. Agency for International Development-led endeavor is to hire consultants to assess the state of affairs among Guatemala’s indigenous populations. This short-term consultancy will scrutinize and report back to USAID on areas such as “nutritional and family planning services,” political participation, and “interaction with the environment.”

Although abortion is not specifically mentioned, the plan alludes to a need to provide Guatemalan women with “more information and understanding of their legal rights in reproductive health and gender-based violence.”

According to a Statement of Work that WND located through routine database research, the contractor will provide “specific recommendations on the types of interventions that can be implemented by USAID so that its assistance is culturally appropriate and the impact higher.”

Following 36 years of internal armed conflict – “which was supposed to resolve most of the social inequality that prevails” – various Guatemalan groups signed Peace Accords to end the strife, according to the SOW. The indigenous people in 1996 then began “the long, difficult path toward integration, and are still seeking full political, economic, and social integration.”

Some progress has been made, thanks to the efforts of organized groups, non-governmental organizations, and human-rights groups, it said. Similarly, the U.S. government has been sending significant aid to Guatemala – and has been doing so for longer than 50 years, following the CIA-backed 1954 overthrow of the nation’s democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz, whom President Eisenhower suspected of being a Communist supporter.

According to the federal ForeignAssistance.gov site, the U.S. has given many hundreds of millions of aid dollars to Guatemala, with a peak amount of $110.2 million in FY2011. That amount dipped to $95.2 million in FY2012. The administration’s requested FY2012 budget for that nation is $93.6 million.

The above-mentioned aid amounts are specific to U.S. Department of State and USAID programs only, and do not reflect any of the billions of dollars in State and U.S. Department of Defense-led regional “drug war” programs.

Despite the level of U.S. and other donor assistance, “the process of integration into society is slow; while only 15 years have passed since the Peace Accords, the indigenous population has suffered five-hundred years of oppression.”

The selected contractor will enable USAID, according to the SOW, to figure out what it has done right and has gotten wrong in Guatemala. Subsequent recommendations will guide the agency – which earlier this year released the USAID/Guatemala Country Development Cooperation Strategy, or CDCS 2012-2016 – as it creates and implements additional assistance programs.

That includes one of the issues that Obama has supported at every turn of his administration: abortion.

The strategy says that “machismo” attitudes embraced by Guatemalan men prevent women from making choices on behalf of themselves and their children – choices that ironically include the USAID-advocated right to terminate the life of an unborn child.

“The legal right for women to make decisions and control their own bodies is circumscribed by cultural and contextual factors that set strong barriers against these actions, for themselves and for their children,” according to the CDCS.

The contractor will be guided by this document, which spells out three primary development objectives: (1) Greater security and justice for citizens; (2) Improved levels of economic growth and social development in the Western Highlands; and: (3) Improved management of natural resources to mitigate impacts of global climate change.

The upcoming analysis will focus on identifying “national constraints and constraints at the community and household-level of the indigenous population,” the SOW said.

In addition to reporting on lessons learned from prior assistance programs, the contractor must identify gaps in what indigenous Guatemalans say they need versus what USAID has proposed to do for them.

The contractor therefore will research, study, and collect information via methods such as interviews, focus groups, and “stakeholder workshops.”

Bids are due Aug. 23.

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.