Saturday, October 02, 2010

Robert Gibbs


WASHINGTON - American scientists deliberately infected prisoners and patients in a mental hospital in Guatemala with syphilis 60 years ago, a recently unearthed experiment that prompted U.S. officials to apologize Friday and declare outrage over "such reprehensible research." "We are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday. President Barack Obama called Guatemala's president, Alvaro Colom, later Friday to apologize. Clinton had called to apologize the night before. "Obviously this is shocking, it's tragic, it's reprehensible," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "It's tragic and the U.S. by all means apologizes to all those who were impacted." The revelation of abuses by a U.S. medical research program is only the latest chapter in the United States' troubled history with the impoverished Central American nation, which has a per capita gross domestic product about half of that of the rest of Central America and the Caribbean. The U.S. helped topple the democratically elected president Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 and backed several hardline governments during a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996 and cost 200,000 lives. - LAURAN NEERGAARD

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