During the Cold War, this is how a war reporter perceived the American view:
'There are two kinds of dictatorship, Communist (abhorrent), and right-wing (anti-Communist and acceptable as allies). Human rights are violated in Communist dictatorships and the US government will protest firmly. The hideous abuse of human rights in right-wing, authoritarian dictatorships is ignored or smoothed over. Do other Free World governments accept this? They have made no public repudiation of it.
Long before fear of Communism became the chief preoccupation of American governments, they sustained right-wing dictatorships throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America. If hungry, oppressed people rebelled, send in the Marines to establish order. If the people managed to elect a non-tyrant who would care for their interests, destabilise that government. The tragic needs of the people of those countries were unimportant. The word gringo (which means someone who speaks English, not Spanish) is not a joke: for the poor, who are most of the people, it is the name of the enemy throughout Latin America.'
The reporter makes the issues clear. This kind of behind-the-scenes mischief-making by major powers has been widespread, and there have been appalling civil wars as a result of it. Political awareness is needed to tackle it.
Another issue is the involvement of civilians against civilians, particularly painful in Guatemala: although the army organised the genocide, and backed its operation where necessary, the work was done by armed civilians and police. Police forces all over the world - intended as guardians of law, order and peace - have been caught up in armed violence and taken sides in it. What is your local police force like? - start there.