We proudly present you with the latest edition of the Foreign Policy of the United States in Guatemala by Jan Kučera, wh
614 39 305KB
English Pages 56  Year 2015
"On January 2, 1943 the Department of state released a publication entitled 'Peace and war: United States fore
756 117 4MB Read more
482 50 4MB Read more
548 126 13MB Read more
A major work of narrative history that brings together diplomatic, economic, and military decisions from the last years
547 135 18MB Read more
Did the United States "win" the Cold War? In its self-congratulatory euphoria, argues Thomas McCormick in this
662 98 5MB Read more
Using documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, recently opened archival collections & interviews w
495 121 5MB Read more
526 51 5MB Read more
401 59 6MB Read more
OSTRAVSKÁ UNIVERZITA V OSTRAVĚ FILOZOFICKÁ FAKULTA KATEDRA ANGLISTIKY A AMERIKANISTIKY
Zahraniční politika Spojených států amerických v Guatemale BAKALÁŘSKÁ PRÁCE
Autor práce: Jan Kučera Vedoucí práce: Mgr. Petr Kopecký, Ph.D. 2009
UNIVERSITY OF OSTRAVA FACULTY OF ARTS DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND AMERICAN STUDIES
Foreign Policy of the United States in Guatemala BACHELOR THESIS
Author: Jan Kučera Supervisor: Mgr. Petr Kopecký, Ph.D. 2009
Poděkování Rád bych tímto poděkoval panu Mgr. Petru Kopeckému, Ph.D. za to, že ochotně přijal můj návrh na téma bakalářské práce, které mi pomohl blíže upřesnit. Také mu tímto děkuji za cenné hodnocení stylistiky, gramatiky i obsahové části v průběhu vypracovávání této práce. Mé díky dále patří mé mamince a všem, kteří mě během psaní podporovali nebo mi pomohli k vybranému tématu nalézt cestu. Dále děkuji společnosti Google za to, že v minulém roce digitalizovala některé z knih, které se mého tématu týkají, a usnadnila mi tak dohledávání citací. Děkuji autorům všech citovaných děl a děkuji čtenářům, kteří mi umožnili si jejich knihy koupit ze zahraničních antikvariátů.
Prohlašuji, že předložená práce je mým původním dílem, které jsem vypracoval samostatně. Veškerou literaturu a další zdroje, z nichž jsem při zpracování čerpal, v práci řádně cituji a jsou uvedeny v seznamu použité literatury. Ostrava..........................
Beru na vědomí, že tato bakalářská práce je majetkem Ostravské univerzity (autorský zákon č. 121/2000 Sb., §60 odst. 1), bez jejího souhlasu nesmí být nic z obsahu publikováno. Souhlasím s prezenčním zpřístupněním své práce v Univerzitní knihovně Ostravské Univerzity.
Table of contents 1.
INTRODUCTION .................................................................................... 3
EXPOSITION ........................................................................................... 4 2.1. COLONIAL HERITAGE ........................................................................... 4 2.1.1. Influence of Spain, Europe and the United States .......................... 4 2.1.2. Investments of the United States ..................................................... 6 2.2. TRADITIONAL DICTATORSHIPS ............................................................ 7 2.2.1. Jorge Ubico..................................................................................... 7 2.2.2. The Economic Depression .............................................................. 7 2.2.3. Ubico and the United States ........................................................... 8 2.2.4. The Fall of Ubico............................................................................ 9 2.2.5. Federico Ponce ............................................................................. 10
RISING ACTION ................................................................................... 11 3.1. FIRST PHASE OF THE DEMOCRATIC ERA ............................................ 11 3.1.1. Arévalo and the October Revolution ............................................ 11 3.1.2. Relations with the United States ................................................... 14 3.1.3. Public Image of UFCO ................................................................. 16 3.2. SECOND PHASE OF THE DEMOCRATIC ERA ........................................ 17 3.2.1. Road to Power of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz.................................... 17 3.2.2. The Land Reform .......................................................................... 19 3.2.3. Arbenz the Communist .................................................................. 20 3.2.4. The First UFCO Press Campaign ................................................ 22 3.2.5. The Second UFCO Press Campaign ............................................ 23 3.2.6. Operation Fortune ........................................................................ 24 3.3. UNITED STATES INVADE GUATEMALA............................................... 25 3.3.1. Eisenhower Becomes President .................................................... 25 3.3.2. Operation PBSUCCESS ............................................................... 26 3.3.3. Arbenz Discovers the Plot............................................................. 28 3.3.4. The War of No Armies .................................................................. 29 3.3.5. An Alternative Conclusion ............................................................ 31
CLIMAX.................................................................................................. 31 4.1. “ROLLING BACK” DEMOCRACY ......................................................... 31 4.1.1. Repression Under Armas .............................................................. 31 4.1.2. From Ydígoras to Guerrillas ........................................................ 32 4.1.3. Reestablishment of the Army......................................................... 34 4.2. DISCOVERING NEW HORIZONS OF TERROR ........................................ 36 4.2.1. The Military Government of General Arana Osorio .................... 36 4.2.2. Presidency of Kjell Laugerud ....................................................... 37 4.2.3. Presidency of Romeo Lucas García.............................................. 38 4.2.4. The Government of Ríos Montt..................................................... 39
FALLING ACTION ............................................................................... 41 5.1. FROM TERROR TO COMPROMISES ...................................................... 41 5.1.1. Mejia Víctores and Vinicio Cerezo............................................... 41 5.1.2. Serrano Elías and his Successors ................................................. 42 5.1.3. Alvaro Arzú and Signing of the Peace Treaty............................... 44
CONCLUSION ....................................................................................... 45
BIBLIOGRAPHY................................................................................... 47 7.1. 7.2.
PRINTED SOURCES ............................................................................. 47 ONLINE SOURCES............................................................................... 48
1. Introduction This thesis tracks the role of the United States in the internal policy of Guatemala. It does so by compiling various sources, comparing them and integrating them into the thesis according to their verifiability. The image produced is supposed to be dynamic, not static or statistic. The aim of the thesis is not to present every single organization or event, which took part during the long political, economic, cultural and military confrontation. The most important aspect which I applied was the analysis of events and individuals who took the most decisive role in changing the course of Guatemala. Interference of the United States in Guatemala is deep-rooted. First, there was the economic dominance, due to the geographical placement of the two countries. The character of the international relations of the two countries changed when the traditional division of power in Guatemala was seriously threatened in the period from 1944 to 1954. This era was a turning point for both the attitude of the United States and for changes in Guatemala. The historical chapters preceding 1944 are an important predecessor to the armed conflict. The Secretary of State Dulles described the intervention of the United States as “rolling back communism”. This means rolling Guatemala back to the pre-1944 era. The consequent 36-year was a conflict of two groups, of the power-concentrating elites, who wanted to sustain the pre-1944 status and rest of the population, which tried to sustain the 1944-1954 status. The thesis is divided into sections that divide the thesis into eras. Sections are divided into chapters that categorize sub-chapters. The subchapters are divided according to important events or presidents, although the status of the presidents dramatically changed after the second democratic period. The works cited throughout this thesis are arranged according to the amount of the cited material and according to the importance for the paragraph
where the citations occur. If the provided information is compiled from various sources, the citations are situated at the end of the logical structure. Words “army” and “military” are used synonymously. I have presented the most balanced image I was capable of with regard to both sides of the conflict and the third party – the civilians. For this goal, I based my thesis on information from different sources, presented by people with different opinions. My findings are summarized in the conclusion at the end of this thesis, offering a quick overall view.
2. Exposition 2.1. Colonial heritage 2.1.1. Influence of Spain, Europe and the United States Before Spain invaded Guatemala in 1524, this Central American country consisted of many rival Mayan tribes. The European conquerors were looking for treasures and wealth without respecting the indigenous population of Central America. Since then, members of the ancient Mayan civilization were being plundered, displaced, tortured, murdered and forced to accept Christianity. Nine tenths of them died of the European diseases. However, it was not worth for the Spaniards to exterminate Mayans, because Guatemala lacked sufficient amounts of gold or silver and remained a relatively neglected colony (Cockcroft 106; Taube 7). Most of the small Guatemalan landowners lost their land to the church and the Spanish mestizos, the racial caste levelled between the whites and the indigenous population, before Guatemala gained independence from Spain (Cockcroft 106). The agricultural indigenous population was dissatisfied with the situation and organised rebellions. The United Provinces of Central America (UPCA) were created in an attempt for a federation. It consisted of the Central American states with Guatemala as the most powerful unit. The inefficient management and the
imbalance of power distribution among the participating countries led to the dissolution of the federation in 1838 (Immerman 22; Cockcroft 107). The armed forces increased during the UPCA period. They worked well as a tool for force drafts of the indigenous highland population (Hey 27). On the other hand, the first democratic president of Guatemala, Juan José Arévalo, considered this period a positive progress, describing it as a way to defend against the “machinations and exploitation of the powerful”. Selfish interests of the participating countries led to dissolution of the federation (Gleijeses 109). Rufino Barrios came to power in 1872 and introduced several liberal reforms, which transformed some of the land to the small middle class, allowed coffee production and attracted foreign investors. However, this era did not seek redistribution of the highly concentrated wealth and power. It facilitated land seizures from the natives instead (Immerman 22, 23). Presidents who applied nationalistic policies to protect the Guatemalan wealth from monopolies of the United States were overthrown. This evoked nationalistic tendencies (Gleijeses 86). James Cockcroft describes the era of 1921 as “a brief democratic interlude” (Cockcroft 108). This basically meant a limited political democracy, when Congress and the press were relatively free (Gleijeses 10). The United Fruit Company ruled by its own private armies for suppression of the organized labour (Cockcroft 108). The only economic measure the Guatemalan dictators could afford was a desperate effort to attract investors (Wilkinson 75). The presidential weakness and corruptibility were caused by the economic dependency on the markets of Europe and the United States, where coffee and bananas were sold. 90% of the Guatemalan agricultural production consisted of these two commodities. Moreover, no exports to Europe were made during World War II. The German property was confiscated and the United States gained the leading economic role. Unfortunately for the Guatemalan presidents, the coffee and the banana prices were very unstable due to vulnerability of the crops and the extremely low production diversification (Immerman 31, 32). An extreme inequality and
poverty were caused by the powerful landowners. They were responsible for the economic instability of Guatemala (Immerman 27). 2.1.2. Investments of the United States The economic dominance over Guatemala is represented by the Boston Fruit Company (BFC) founded in 1885. It was a fast growing corporation, but it could not buy enough bananas to satisfy the supply. BFC decided to buy some land for cultivation and started growing on their own crops (Schleisinger and Kinzer 65, 66). At this time, a person called Minor Keith was building railroads across Central America, dreaming of a transport monopoly. His debts forced him to accept partnership offered by BFC (Schleisinger and Kinzer 67). In 1899, Keith’s International Railways of Central America (IRCA) and BFC merged into The United Fruit Company (UFCO). Dictators of the underdeveloped Central American countries did not have any use for their land and willingly sold it to UFCO. In 1901, UFCO made a deal with the Guatemalan president Cabrera for a 99-year concession to build and operate the Guatemalan railroad. In 1930, UFCO had its assets in Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia and mainly Guatemala (Schleisinger and Kinzer 16). Samuel Zemurray was an inventive businessman who organised a coup in Honduras in 1905 to remove influence of a New York bank, which governed the country’s treasury to save it economically. The coup gave Zemurray any concessions he asked for. By 1915, he became a dangerous competitor to UFCO, which paid him to stay out of the banana business (Schleisinger and Kinzer 68, 69). In 1932, he was recalled to save the company. Common methods of UFCO were political intervention, economic compulsion, contractual imposition, bribery and propaganda (Schleisinger and Kinzer 72).
This period is further characterized by two military visits by the United States. In 1885 and 1906, military warships were sent to Guatemala in order to “protect American citizens and property” (Cockcroft 108).
2.2. Traditional Dictatorships 2.2.1. Jorge Ubico Jorge Ubico Castaneda was the last despotic ruler before the Guatemalan revolution of 1944. He came to power in 1931 (Cockcroft 108). At that time, about one third of the land was under cultivation. By the end of the Ubico’s rule, 2.2% of the population owned 80% of the land (Immerman 28). 42% of the Guatemalan land was owned by UFCO (LaFeber 118). Samuel Zemurray influenced large landowners to support Ubico, while the State Department of the United States contributed to his victory in elections where he was a sole candidate (Gleijeses 11). John Foster Dulles was the legal representative, who mediated communication of UFCO and Ubico. One of his successes was another 99-year concession that exempted UFCO from virtually all taxes, including import duties (Immerman 71). 2.2.2. The Economic Depression The economic depression severely affected Guatemala in 1929 thanks to the position of UFCO. The depression caused high unemployment rate that spread unrest among workers. Ubico reduced it by cutting the government expenditures, by forced labour and by repressing and executing his opposition (Wilkinson 98; Gleijeses 11; Cockcroft 109). Ubico mainly prosecuted labour organizers and the Communist Party of Guatemala, which originated in the limited democracy of 1922 (Gleijeses 12). Founder of this party was a lawyer and its poor members knew nothing about the Soviet Union or Marxism (Gleijeses 10). Guatemalan peasants were subject to indebted peonage before the rule of Ubico (Gleijeses 12). It equalled the forced labour repaid by a few cents
(Wilkinson 44). For the money the Guatemalans received, they could not even afford to buy staple food, which had to be imported since 1900, because large pieces of land were either owned by UFCO or the coffee planters (Immerman 24). In 1932, Ubico changed the indebted peonage into a new system by imposing the vagrancy laws. From this time on, natives who owned no land had to work for the local landowners 100 days per year according to Gleijeses and at least 150 days per year according to Schleisinger and Kinzer (Gleijeses 13; Schleisinger and Kinzer 120). Each worker had to carry a card on which his employer would write how many hours had already been worked off. It was common for the employer to retain workers by refusing to sign their cards or by falsifying data, since 95% of the workers were illiterate (Gleijeses 13, Schleisinger and Kinzer 38). To secure the situation, military policemen patrolled the plantations to prevent workers from complaining (Wilkinson 219). Landowners often cooperated to create trusts, which paid each worker 15 cents a day (Gleijeses 13; Immerman 54). There was no working-hour limit In 1932, Ubico ruled Decree 1816, according to which a landowner could kill natives to protect his property (Gleijeses 13). In 1944, Ubico extended this practice by issuing Decree 2795 that allowed any native to be killed while hunting for food on a private land (Immerman 37). By this time, 92% of the cultivated land was in hands of 142 people or corporations (Cockcroft 109). 2.2.3. Ubico and the United States Ubico was a fierce anticommunist who admired Franco, Hitler and idealized Napoleon (Schleisinger and Kinzer 27). Ubico had a warm relation with the United States, which was repaid by the military support (Immerman 84). Ubico preferred U.S. investors, and he even appointed a U.S. officer as the director of the prestigious school Escuela Politécnica. Other U.S. professors were employed there too (Gleijeses 19).
Ubico gratefully cooperated with the United States during World War II by expropriating the German property responsible for 75% of the coffee production (Hanáková 7). He also allowed FBI agents to move Germans to detention camps in the United States. U.S. press was originally distrustful of Ubico, but this turned dramatically into admiration in 1940 (Gleijeses 21). Ubico was also protected by the secret police, which was modernized by a New York expert. It earned the title of “Guatemalan Gestapo” (Gleijeses 19). Furthermore, thousands of American soldiers were stationed in the country “to defend the Panama Canal” (Jonas 22). Before the resignation of Ubico, the U.S. embassy evaluated any discontent of the poorly paid UFCO workers as a result of the “Bosheviki propaganda”. Ubico himself never tolerated any objections towards the U.S. companies (Gleijeses 92). The U.S. officials were praised by Ubico. They supported him and presented him as the man who could maintain the pro-American stability in Guatemala (Gleijeses 22). The TIME magazine from 1941 reads: “Handsome, ice-eyed president Ubico has proved to his own and most people's satisfaction” (1). In Harper’s Magazine, he was presented as the “honest admirer of Democracy” (Immerman 84). 2.2.4. The Fall of Ubico Combination of the military image of Ubico together with his dictatorial practices, the ethnic conflicts and the economic instability brought him out of office (REMHI 184; Immerman 36). He was the military strongman produced by the elites, who resembled autocratic rulers preceding him. But in 1944, the war against Nazi Germany was over and keeping a U.S. supported dictator with a pro-Nazi personality in power could damage justification of war presented to the worldwide public. The United States became convinced that Ubico should be replaced (Gleijeses 25). Moreover, dictators at El Salvador and Ecuador fell in the popular revolts (Gleijeses 38).
In June 1944, Ubico was forced to abdicate after series of widespread protests (REMHI 184). Deeply disillusioned by petitions of the prominent Guatemalans, he was unable to react (Gleijeses 23, 26). While Gleijeses assumes that Ubico’s reaction was mild, Cockcroft asserts that 100 protesting students and workers were executed (Gleijeses 23, Cockcroft 109). 2.2.5. Federico Ponce A military junta was established. Federico Ponce was one of its members. He brought a sub-machine gun to the Congress and forced it to elect him a provisional president. Once in power, Ponce allowed political parties, labour organisations and pledged land to the natives (Gleijeses 27; Immerman 40). He also promised to hold free elections. However, he was a manipulator who did not differ from Ubico (Gleijeses 28). Hope of the opposition lied in finding a good candidate against Ponce in the promised elections. They choose Dr. Juan José Arévalo, who was an exiled nationalist writer, a historian and the doctor of philosophy at the University of Tacumán, Argentina. Unlike Ubico, he was inspired by Simón Bolívar, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal program. When Arévalo arrived to Guatemala, the most massive demonstration in history of Guatemala cheered him. Ponce ordered to arrest Arévalo and pushed him into hiding (Schleisinger and Kinzer 30). Propaganda was then spread that Arévalo is an extremist out of touch with the country. The opposition claimed that he lost right to the Guatemalan citizenship (Gleijeses 28). Mass imprisonment and censorship were soon in place and it became clear that the free elections were illusionary (Immerman 40). The Ponce’s promise of land was one of the keys to his failure. The Cakchiquel natives rose up against Ladinos and killed about 16-19 of them. The military reacted by killing 440-640 natives (REMHI 184). If this was not enough to end Ponce’s dictatorship, then the planned revolt definitely was. The
U.S. ambassador Boaz Long predicted a “considerable state of political ferment” (Schleisinger and Kinzer 29).
3. Rising Action 3.1. First Phase of the Democratic Era 3.1.1. Arévalo and the October Revolution In 1944, Major Francisco Arana and Captain Jacobo Arbenz killed their superior officers at Fort Matamoros and distributed stored arms to eager students. Other units of the army joined them in a raid against the rest of the military. Last Ponce’s attempt to save his position was to unsuccessfully ask the U.S. embassy to deliver bombs for his air force. The U.S. embassy then arranged a settlement with the rebels. Both Ubico and Ponce hid away in the security of foreign institutions. Arbenz and Arana were heroes of the revolution, which took fewer than 100 lives. They formed a junta together with a businessman called John Toriello (Schleisinger and Kinzer 31). Thousands of people cheerfully marched through the capital and identified themselves with the revolution (Immerman 42-3). The revolution was also greeted by the middle class and the elites, who fell strengthened by the doubled price of coffee (Gleijeses 30). The institutions of legal torture were abolished (Immerman 42). The police was replaced with the civil guard. In 1945, Arévalo was elected by 85% of the literate male vote. Members of the junta supported him. He was a liberal president who praised democracy and rejected communism as the ideology “contrary to human nature” (Schleisinger and Kinzer 31, 32). His dream was the unification of the Central American states in pursuit of economic integration and development (Immerman 50). A new constitution was enacted, inspired by the revolutionary Spain, Mexico and ideas promoted by Justo Rufino Barrios. Officials were elected for a limited period of time. Military officers were prevented to take part in politics. Rights of individuals were protected. Men and women were guaranteed equal
pay, voting rights were expanded, and power of the president was limited by other legal institutions, whose interaction was extended. Racial discrimination, censorship, private monopolies and the vagrancy law were outlawed. Workweek was limited to 48 hours, social security introduced and so on (Schleisinger and Kinzer 33, 34; Immerman 53). Arévalo called this program the “spiritual socialism” to distinguish it from the Marxist material socialism (REMHI 185). He made education and agriculture his priorities. In his inaugural speech, Arévalo praised Roosevelt’s New Deal program, particularly the combination of socialism and democracy (Schleisinger and Kinzer 34). The new economic policies enhanced small-scale industry, small-scale farmers, business sector and the internal buying power. New unions were established and legally incorporated. By 1949, there were ninety-two unions (REMHI 185). Third of the budget was spent on schools, hospitals and housing (Cockcroft 110). Arévalo introduced the Law of Forced Rental, which sought to rent uncultivated land in hands of large landowners (Immerman 53). One of chances for the economic development laid in administration of the German farms expropriated by Ubico. Gleijeses assumes that with proper management, these could have produced about 25% of the coffee crop. Unfortunately, there were no capable administrators at the time and most of them were corrupt and careless (Gleijeses 43). Corruption in bureaucracy minimized impact of the Arévalo’s cautious reforms (Immerman 53). These reforms were supported by the leading capitalist economists like George Britnell (Immerman 51). The elites assumed that “lazy peasants would lead Guatemala to hell” as one businessman noted (Wilkinson 214). It was true that the output of the German coffee plantations gradually dropped, but the production increased after expropriations under Arbenz. Although Arévalo was a mild president, he had to escape about 25 coup attempts organized by the elites during his presidency (Immerman 57). His opposition consisted of small number of powerful business owners, importers and agriculturists, who viewed Arévalo’s reforms radical. They never accepted
Arévalo and plotted a counter-revolution with Ponce in exile (Immerman 58). Opinion of the elites was identical to that of the Central American dictatorships, the Central American elites and the elites in the United States (Immerman 81). One diplomat from the United States lamented in 1949 that “no one of the former governing class of old ‘good families’ was or has since been a member of this government”. Washington didn’t know Guatemala well. Its sources came from the upper class, incompetent ambassadors and representatives of the multinationals (as qtd. in Gleijeses 100; Immerman 85). But except for the extremists like the Assistant Secretary of State Spruille Braden, the administration of the United States remained calm and friendly, until its expectations of things “coming back to normal” were broken (Immerman 86). Power of the Guatemalan military was still very strong. After the revolution, all weapons held by civilians had to be returned to legal offices under the threat of prosecution (Gleijeses 72, 73). Major Arana strengthened his position by forcing Arévalo to pass Decree 17, which made him more powerful then Arbenz, who was the defence minister (Schirmer 11). In addition, the military successfully gained independence from the executive in 1945. This was unimportant as long as large landowners felt satisfied, because the military was historically essential for the governments and its role rooted in 1871 (Immerman 44; Schirmer 10). Arévalo’s spiritual socialism was supposed to uplift the human spirit and provide better conditions by harder work (Gleijeses 36). There was nothing more appealing to powerful elites. But formation of the labour organisations was hardly “spiritual-only”, although Arévalo never considered an agrarian reform necessary (Cockcroft 110).
3.1.2. Relations with the United States In 1947, Arévalo introduced the Labour Code, inspired by the U.S. Wagner model. It guaranteed right of the urban workers to organize unions, to collectively bargain and to strike. Minimal pay was set. Wages increased by 80%. Child and women labour became regulated. This balanced the preceding division of power, which supported only the wealthy landowners. Unionization in the countryside was forbidden for small farms to prevent production stoppages (Schleisinger and Kinzer 38, 39; LaFeber 112). The law protected workers in any farm that had more than 500 workers, including UFCO. UFCO found the Labour Code discriminatory and urged the U.S. State Department for support through people like Braden, who even demanded forceful persuasion of the Guatemalan government (Gleijeses 94, 95). UFCO employed Thomas Corcoran, who indicated that the Labour Code was illegally threatening investments all over Latin America (Gleijeses 96). Corcoran had close ties to Democrats and even to Walter Bedell, who was the CIA director in the 1950s (Schleisinger and Kinzer 91). Arévalo was under surveillance of the FBI since imposing the Labour Code. Former supporters of Ubico were afraid that better conditions for their workers would eliminate the cheap labour force. They claimed that Arévalo’s government was corrupted, inexperienced, incompetent, and communist (Schleisinger and Kinzer 40, 58). One of Arévalo’s drawbacks was that he had no connections to the U.S. administration. This fact supported his publicity in Guatemala, but undermined his diplomatic options abroad (Immerman 45). Luckily enough for Arévalo, the U.S. Ambassador from 1945 to 1948 was Edwin Kyle, who recognized that charges against communism in the Guatemalan government were without foundation. On the other hand, Kyle put absolute trust in UFCO and believed in its kindness (Gleijeses 97). Arévalo called for end to dictatorships through whole Latin America. He first attempted an unsuccessful union through diplomacy (Gleijeses 110). He
then turned his support to the Caribbean Legion, which successfully ousted the Costa Rican dictatorship (Immerman 50). The United States considered such interventions illegal and repeatedly asked Arévalo to withdraw his support, which he denied (Gleijeses 115). Guatemala became haven for the Central American exiles from Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. From Guatemala, they plotted against the Latin American despots (Gleijeses 110). The United States claimed that Arévalo’s anticommunism was not strong enough. While the Communist Party was banned, there was a different problem – the three exploitive corporations of the United States, which dominated the Guatemalan economy with their capital of $93 milion in 1944 (Gleijeses 85, 86). The privileges of UFCO, IRCA and the Electric Bond and Share (electricity monopoly) were not modified during the Arévalo’s presidency, but the emerging lawful society could, in longer run, threaten the taxation frauds these companies were conducting (Gleijeses 91). UFCO gave its workers more money than other employers, but they had to spend it for preventive measures against dangerous chemicals. Unlike other landowners, UFCO did not offer small tiles of land for its workers to cultivate crops (Immerman 75). The U.S. intelligence report from 1946 reported there was no communist influence in Central America, except for Costa Rica. Ambassador Patterson was put into office after Kyle in 1948. The view changed dramatically. Patterson was an arrogant businessman interested only in allegations of the communist influence. He knew nothing about Central America (Gleijeses 98; Immerman 97). Patterson advised UFCO to barrage the U.S. Congress to act against Guatemala. He advised Arévalo to withdraw 17 government officials and even collaborated with the opposition to overthrow the government (LaFeber 114; Schleisinger and Kinzer 86). The first claims of the communist infiltration came from UFCO, which was now in harmony with Patterson, who confessed he was a UFCO agent. He was dismissed after Arévalo raised objections
against him. The New York Times praised Patterson for his views. Before 1949, nobody found the Labour Code dangerous. Patterson instantly turned into a “drastic document, which ... would greatly facilitate the communist objective of state or worker control of industry” (Gleijeses 102; Immerman 99). In 1948, Truman blocked the military support for Guatemala. He also thought about stopping the student exchange program and the agrarian research program (Immerman 110; LaFeber 123). It was unusual for the Guatemalan government to handle internal affairs before the revolution. Officials of the United States expected absolute loyalty. When the situation changed with Arévalo, the solution was to demonize him with allegations of the communist influence, even though he deported communists out of the country (Gleijeses 120). Arévalo also let the United States perform military operations from Guatemala to prove his support (Gleijeses 121). The U.S. press censored all positive articles and reports. The public opinion soon crystallized to hostility towards Arévalo (Immerman 114). 3.1.3. Public Image of UFCO A highly positioned U.S. State Department official warned his superiors that Guatemalans would no longer tolerate the behaviour of UFCO. He was ignored. The United Fruit did not tolerate any disrespect. Instead of innovation, it used bribery, lies and false promises (Immerman 72, 78). Behaviour of the monopolies worsened. 3,746 UFCO workers were fired without pay (Gleijeses 164). IRCA charges were the highest in the world in 1951 (Immerman 79). Zemurray wanted to improve the image of UFCO, which was notorious for its exploitive behaviour. Around 1940, he became interested in Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, who was a widely acknowledged public relations expert. Bernays’ career consisted of planning marketing strategies for the largest U.S. companies and promoting tobacco products. He was a dominant figure of the public relations sector he invented. Bernays believed that manipulation was an essential part of democracy. He knew most of the
reporters, editors, publishers, and owners of such media as The New York Times (Schleisinger and Kinzer 79-81). Bernays decided to invite reporters to see the achievements of UFCO. He established a specialised institution to present “facts and figures” to the public. UFCO founded private newspapers in Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras, but all this was not enough to improve its image, mainly in Guatemala. Bernays himself soon became bitter about how UFCO treated its workers. He was dissatisfied with UFCO’s lack of interest towards the U.S. media (Schleisinger and Kinzer 81, 82). But according to Patterson, any problem that arose within UFCO as the result of the reformist Guatemalan policies should be blamed on the Guatemalan Government (Gleijeses 105). The presence of Bernays in UFCO was vital to character of the U.S. intervention according to some respected historians (Grandin “Empire’s Workshop” 43).
3.2. Second Phase of the Democratic Era 3.2.1. Road to Power of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz The Guatemalan landed elites were hostile to Arévalo and they were looking for their candidate for the elections of 1950. They found Major Arana, member of the former revolutionary junta (Gleijeses 54). Even the U.S. embassy was convinced that Arana “is determined by any means to succeed Arévalo” (Gleijeses 56). In 1945, a deal was made between the Revolutionary Party of Arévalo (PAR) and Arana. Arana was promised support of the party in the 1950 elections in exchange for not overthrowing Arévalo (Gleijeses 50, 54; Schleisinger and Kinzer 45). However, he did not live that long. Arana and Arbenz were rivals since the beginning of the revolution. Arana’s political incompetence limited him to take power by force (Gleijeses 58). He already tried to seize power as the member of the junta (Schleisinger and Kinzer 44).
Arana died in 1948 (Schleisinger and Kinzer 44), two days after he came to the presidential office to give Arévalo a choice: either to be deposed or to dismiss the cabinet and replace ministers with Arana’s own appointees. Arbenz, Arévalo and the Permanent Committee of the Guatemalan Congress agreed that Arana must be exiled (Gleijeses 63). A shootout broke out when Arana was to be arrested. He was killed. The elites convinced Arana to overthrow Arévalo. Now they lamented that he was murdered (Gleijeses 60). A revolt broke out in Guatemala City following the news about the death of Arana. Arévalo successfully suppressed it with help of the general strike, while handing out guns to the unions. Total death toll was 150 with 300 wounded (Immerman 60). Arévalo then had to face the last failed coup by Colonel Castillo Armaz (Schleisinger and Kinzer 45) and two U.S. pilots. The U.S. ambassador Patterson cabled his worries to Washington. He was afraid that killing Arana as “the only positive conservative element” would swing power to the hands of “the more radical fringe of Arévalo regime” represented by Arbenz (Gleijeses 24, 25). The elites picked general Ydígoras Fuentes for an opponent to Arbenz. He was an opportunistic officer who perpetrated massacres under Ubico, ready to exterminate “the communists”. The less conservative sectors of the society chose Garcia Granados, a man who was able to stop the revolution from turning more left (Immerman 60, 61; Schleisinger and Kinzer 120). However, Arbenz received support from the rest of the Guatemalan population and won the elections with 63% of the vote (Cockcroft 110). The plan of Arbenz was to expand the reforms accepted under Arévalo, to improve transportation, gain independence from UFCO monopolies, study regional problems, involve indigenous population in representation and introduce technological innovations (Immerman 60, 61; LaFeber 118). Arbenz sought transformation of the oligarchic society into a modern one. Unlike Arévalo, he did not meddle in the policy of other countries (Gleijeses 272; LaFeber 117).
Jacobo Arbenz was one of the best students in history of Escuela Politécnica. He was also a teacher of history and science. His political alignment was formed by his wife, María Vilanova, who convinced him to recognize problems, which the Guatemalan population had to face. She urged Arbenz to revolt against Ponce before the revolution. Her two closest associates were Central American communist leaders (Schleisinger and Kinzer 50, 51). Reformist attitude of Arbenz was supported by the World Bank, which issued a voluminous analysis of the Guatemalan economy with suggestions. It advised regulation of energy companies, increase in wages, foreign capital regulation, industrialization, taxation and public spending together with introduction of banks and the credit system (Schleisinger and Kinzer 52, 53; Immerman 64). The agrarian situation in 1950 was still very bad. 99.1% of farms were situated at only 14% of the land, while 0.1% of farms held up 41% of the Guatemalan surface. There were 200,000 landless peasants (REMHI 185) and 90% of the workers were agrarian (Schleisinger and Kinzer 54). The main problem was that although the elites owned 70% of the arable land, they cultivated less than one fourth. More than 1.5 million acres were uncultivated (Immerman 65; Schleisinger and Kinzer 50). Arbenz was hated by the conservative press for succeeding in reforming public works, energy and for imposing a mild tax (Schleisinger and Kinzer 54). 3.2.2. The Land Reform The most revolutionary moment in Guatemala came when the agrarian reform bill was passed on June 27, 1952. It was the greatest dream of Arbenz that could save the malnourished workers. Decree 900, as it was called, allowed the government to expropriate uncultivated land from the large plantations. It did not affect farms smaller than 223 acres or farms up to 670 acres with at least two thirds under cultivation. The owners were repaid by
25-year government bonds according the value of the land they declared in the official register (Schleisinger and Kinzer 54; LaFeber 115). The newly allocated plots benefited 500,000 peasants, most of them were native. Size of the plots varied from 8.5 to 17 acres (Immerman 65, 66). Implementation of the land reform faced the problem of corruption as most of the political parties were only interested in gaining positions in the government. Arbenz soon found out that the only sincere and incorruptible party was Partido Guatemateco de Trabajo (PGT), the Guatemalan party of Labour. The PGT was deeply inspired by Marxism (Gleijeses 245, 194). The United Fruit had about 85% of its land uncultivated. It used to undervalue it to evade taxes. In 1953, there was a dispute between UFCO and the Guatemalan government over the bonds to be repaid for the expropriated land. The official value was $2.99 per acre, but UFCO and the Secretary of State Dulles demanded $75 per acre with total difference over $14,000,000 (Immerman 81). The Guatemalan government rejected such demands (Schleisinger and Kinzer 76). Hostility between the Guatemalan classes was rising. Few peasants, who did not yet receive land in 1953, illegally invaded farms. They were supported by the opportunist PGT leader Carlos Manuel Pellecer. Arbenz tried to stop such abuses with fines and local agrarian councils (Schleisinger and Kinzer 56). The landowners, in return, corrupted the police force to assault peasants (Gleijeses 163). The order was re-established by Arbenz. 3.2.3. Arbenz the Communist In 1947, a section called the Democratic Vanguard was created inside the PAR by Manuel Fortuny. He sought to create a political party based on workers and peasants (Schleisinger and Kinzer 56). In 1949, the Democratic Vanguard was transformed into the PGT that was legalized in 1952. Communist parties were banned under Arévalo (Schleisinger and Kinzer 56; Gleijeses 231). Fortuny was the closest friend to Arbenz. Intellectual leaders
like Manuel Gutierrez, who was a union leader, also helped to implement the agrarian reform (Gleijeses 79,145). These “communists” were generally discredited local reformers with no foreign delegates (Schleisinger and Kinzer 104; Gleijeses 76). Pellecer, for example, was inspired by a poem by Julius Fučík, entitled Report from the Gallows (1947). Gutierrez even left his communist party after a visit to Moscow (Schleisinger and Kinzer 58). The most distant Soviet country ever visited by Fortuny was Czechoslovakia. The PGT was never invited to a congress of the communist parties to Moscow (Gleijeses 186). Pellecer explains that the PGT was interested in cooperation with the USSR, but “they didn’t answer” (as qtd. in Gleijeses 186). The PGT even praised Stalin after his death in 1953 (LaFeber 119). Although it was useful for Arbenz to work with communists as he had no other option, not a single communist held a cabinet post in the government and there was no censorship, no prosecution or collectivization (Schleisinger and Kinzer 59,60; Gleijeses 160). Arbenz became interested in the Marxist theories. He was a passionate reader and only the Marxist theories gave him answers about the development in Guatemala. As the opposition of the U.S. officials and the U.S. companies grew stronger, he even found sympathy for the Soviet Union, mainly for “its ability to defeat illiteracy and raise the standard of living” (Gleijeses 214). However, Arbenz never wanted to transform Guatemala into a communist state, at least not in the nearest future (Gleijeses 147). The United States were fully supported by Guatemala in the United Nations (LaFeber 119). In her thesis dedicated to the guerrillas in Guatemala, Klára Hanáková states that the PGT evoked fear of the communist infiltration in the Guatemalan business circles and inside the United States (Hanáková 10). According to Gleijeses, however, the worst thing was that PGT was a democratic communist party, which could inspire the surrounding oppressed nations (Gleijeses 366). Regarding the close friendship to Fortuny and cooperation with the
communists as the only viable way towards the land reform, it is reasonable to disagree with Cockcroft, who concludes that Arbenz “reluctantly accepted [the communist] support” when the United States decided to act against him (Cockcroft 110). The reforms implemented since 1944 were successful. The balance of payments was favourable, there were more schools with more pupils, provision of electricity was extended and more people received newspaper than before (Schleisinger and Kinzer 62; LaFeber 117). Production of crops also increased dramatically, including corn and coffee. The production rose to 74% in case of rice and wheat (compared to 1952), although the U.S. embassy never admitted it (Gleijeses 158, 159). 3.2.4. The First UFCO Press Campaign Since strikes against IRCA and UFCO in 1950, UFCO hired various influential lobbyists and publicists to create an ideal climate for a direct intervention (Schleisinger and Kinzer 77). Bernays started organizing a counterattack against the Guatemalan government (Schleisinger and Kinzer 83). He persuaded a Herald Tribune reporter to write series entitled “Communism in the Caribbean”, based on interviews with the company officials. The New York Times publisher dispatched a reporter named William Lissner, who reviewed some presumably staged political disturbances (Schleisinger and Kinzer 84). Immerman defends Lissner for doing an independent research and claims that his conclusions were result of the “cold war ethos” (Immerman 113). I find it naive, because The New York Times publisher was a close friend to Bernays and selection of reporters was not random (Schleisinger and Kinzer 84). Moreover, the “cold war ethos” thesis is invalid if we take a look at the past U.S. policy towards Central American, which represented business interests (Grandin “Empire’s Workshop” 30).
Milton K. Wells wrote a report entitled “Communism in Guatemala”, warning about the communist infiltration and the “strong overtones of class warfare” (Immerman 89). Moscow was soon predicted to infiltrate Guatemala through inexperienced workers and people like Gutierrez, although the FBI investigation identified him as a non-communist (Immerman 90, 91). Various senators and representatives like Alexander Wiley, Allan Ellender or Henry Cabot Lodge plotted against Arbenz. The Cabot family owned some UFCO shares (Schleisinger and Kinzer 83, 90; Immerman 115). Since 1950, newspapers like The New York Times and Newsweek agreed with the former ambassador Patterson and presented Arbenz as a “political opportunist without convictions”. According to British Intelligence Digest read by Truman, Arbenz “has been approved by Moscow”. The CIA believed that Arbenz will “follow more than ever a Communist line policy”. The FBI reported that Arbenz began to actively propagandize the communist cause within the army in 1948. It was the dream of Undersecretary of State Bennett to “put the squeeze on the Commies in Guatemala” (Immerman 107-110). 3.2.5. The Second UFCO Press Campaign In April 1954, Zemurray urged Bernays to launch the second large press campaign against Guatemala. A second report was scheduled in The New York Times. Series of the alarming articles about “Reds” in Guatemala were produced. TIME, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, The Atlantic Monthly, Saturday Evening Post, Chicago Tribune and the Latin magazine Visión were either interested or directly participated in manufacturing the setup by issuing misleading articles (Schleisinger and Kinzer 86; Immerman 112). Bernays then organized least 5 “fact-finding missions” to Guatemala between 1952 and 1954 as a serious attempt to compromise objectivity. He invited reporters and publishers from TIME, Newsweek, Scripps-Howard newspapers, United Press International, the Christian Science Monitor, the Miami Herald, Nashville Banner, Cincinnati Enquirer, New Orleans Item and the San Francisco
Chronicle. UFCO was depicted as a progressive company. It was presented to these reporters by bribed and arranged informants (Schleisinger and Kinzer 87; Immerman 112). In 1953, Bernays and one New York Times reporter published a story, in which people from Central America were turned into red agents in a Prague training camp (Schleisinger and Kinzer 88). The New Leader executive director was bribed to publish articles advocating UFCO. Daniel James from The New Leader published a book entitled Red Design for Americas, where he compared the reform act to collectivization in China. Bernays bought hundreds of copies and distributed them to the U.S. press (Schleisinger and Kinzer 89). Bernays also had various projects like the UFCO newspaper and a few informational agencies shaped to his image (Schleisinger and Kinzer 90). Senator Wiley declared Guatemala a country of “the communist octopus at work”. This claim was the result of UFCO lobby and propaganda. UFCO itself was widely known for its economic and political influence in Guatemala as “el pulpo” – the octopus (Immerman 70; Schleisinger and Kinzer 94). The U.S. press of 1954 presented Arbenz and his military ministers as the red traitors (Gleijeses 197). The army, in fact, was firmly anticommunist, opposing any social change and the organized labour. Arévalo and Arbenz bought the army with high salaries and privileges (Gleijeses 200, 201). Leading officers had close ties to the United States, where many of their children studied. They also had close ties to the U.S. attachés (Gleijeses 205). 3.2.6. Operation Fortune There were people like the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza, who accepted Truman’s help in attempts to overthrow Arbenz (Gleijeses 226). In 1952, he came to the United States to be delivered a Medal of Honor for his services against democracy. Somoza, the CIA and UFCO secretly planned an invasion to Guatemala. It was entitled Operation Fortune.
The operation was under patronage of general Walter Bedell Smith, the Undersecretary of State in the Eisenhower administration. It also encompassed Trujillo from the Dominican Republic and Jiménez from Venezuela, both were dictators. Weapons were sent to Nicaragua for the Somoza’s protégé Castillo Armas, but the incriminated UFCO ship was recalled when the plan reached Truman and his advisors (Gleijeses 230,231; Schleisinger and Kinzer 121).
3.3. United States Invade Guatemala 3.3.1. Eisenhower Becomes President UFCO and the CIA had to wait for Eisenhower to become president. John Foster Dulles became the Secretary of State and his brother Allan Dulles became the director of the CIA (Gleijeses 234). Zemurray secretly contracted the right-wing political war machine John Clements Associates, which had close ties to the conservative press and the Republicans, including Senator McCarthy, the famous crusader against communism. John Clement was an ex-marine conservative whose side job was doing business with the Latin American dictators (Schleisinger and Kinzer 94). Clements dutifully distributed another two bizarre and aggressive studies, which suggested overthrowing Arbenz. These materials, proclaiming that the Guatemalan president was preparing an invasion of the Panama Canal, were accepted by the CIA (Schleisinger and Kinzer 95). John Foster Dulles received an unprecedented power by Eisenhower, although he knew very little about Central America. During the 1920s, he worked as a corporate lawyer for Electric Bond and Share. Dulles did not hide his affection for dictators. His brother Allen presided in the UFCO’s board of trustees (Gleijeses 234, 235; LaFeber 118). Moreover, Eisenhower’s private secretary held a top PR job in UFCO (LaFeber 119).
3.3.2. Operation PBSUCCESS The coup against Arbenz was underway since September 1953. It was a stealth operation. Only Eisenhower, the Dulles brothers, and few other top officials knew about it. It was organized only by the CIA’s Directorate of Plans. Name of the action was operation PBSUCCESS. The first two letters mean “presidential board” and the attached word reflected the general optimism about the outcome of the operation (Gleijeses 233, 234). The plan was to wage a psychological warfare against Arbenz and turn his own army against him. The purpose of the invasion, led by the Guatemalan exiles, was to give the army officers a chance to either give up or to face anger of the United States. The main condition was to keep the U.S. involvement secret at the same time in order to protect the U.S. image in Latin America (Gleijeses 246, 247). The counter-revolutionaries, or “the liberators”, were presented as widely supported freedom fighters, defeating the communists closely tied to Kremlin (Immerman 144). John E. Peurifoy was appointed to Guatemala as the ambassador to cooperate on the mission. He was a forceful diplomat, who would accept no compromises. His nickname was “the butcher of Greece” for his aggressive behaviour during the previous assignment (Immerman 137, Jonas 30, Schleisinger and Kinzer 132). In the same year, UFCO paid $64,000 to the right-wing officers in the army of Arbenz to stage an uprising that sparked off in Salamá, where 200 rebels held the city for 17 hours. They were soon crushed by the government forces. Other uprisings failed. The U.S. government hardened its stance towards Guatemala through the Secretary of State official John Moors Cabot, brother to former president of UFCO. Other UFCO lobbyists were also taking their part. Toriello tried hard to explain the agrarian reform to the United States from his position of the Guatemalan ambassador. He was ignored. Arbenz was not a communist according to the U.S. administration, but a fellow-traveller unable
to oust the communists out of his government (Schleisinger and Kinzer 103, 104). This is a strange opinion if we realise that Arbenz was inspired by Marxism, while only 4 out of 56 delegates in the Guatemalan Congress were members of the PGT (Jonas 31). The operational headquarters for PBSUCCESS were set at Opa Loca in Florida. Cost of the intervention ranges between $5 and $20 million. PBSUCCESS involved 10 U.S. pilots, 100 CIA agents and about 300 mercenaries from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras (Immerman 138, Schleisinger and Kinzer 111, 112, 116). The army of Guatemala was about 20 times stronger, counting 6200 men (Gleijeses 198). The elites favoured Ydígoras as the task force leader, but he did not accept the conditions offered by the CIA (Schleisinger and Kinzer 121). Immerman states that the CIA rejected him because he was too authoritarian (Immerman 141). Such claims make no sense if we take a look at the conditions stipulated by the CIA: to establish a government in the style of Ubico (Schleisinger and Kinzer 121). The CIA picked a man who already tried to overthrow Arbenz. His name was Castillo Armas, a treacherous military rival to Ydígoras (Immerman 142, Schleisinger and Kinzer 123,127). The sharpest propaganda to bring up the right climate for the invasion was attempted by J.F. Dulles at the Inter-American Conference in 1954. In his Declaration of Caracas, he advocated measures “against the international communism”, which was said to have come from outside the hemisphere. The applauded speech of Toriello, which followed, was not enough to turn the declaration down (Immerman 144-147). The participating countries voted for the declaration in fear of the United States, as they confessed right after Dulles left the conference (LaFeber 121). The work of Bernays has paid off as the U.S. Congress called for an intervention under false pretexts (Immerman 151, 152). Meanwhile, Allen Dulles met UFCO officials to assure them that the privileges of UFCO from the times of Ubico would be regained after the CIA removes Arbenz (Schleisinger and Kinzer 120).
The CIA first tried to unsuccessfully bribe Arbenz. Early attempts to cause uprising also failed (Schleisinger and Kinzer 113). Several hidden jamming and broadcasting communication stations were placed around Guatemala, programmed to disrupt regular radio waves and to replace them with “terror broadcast” on the 1st of May (Schleisinger and Kinzer 114, Gleijeses 295). A company called InterArmco was founded to equip the exiles with U.S. weapons. Some 30 planes including 3 P-51 bombers were distributed under the cover of “arms assistance” to countries neighbouring Guatemala through a dummy charity organization and private companies (Schleisinger and Kinzer 115). As the operation intensified, some participating U.S. officials suspected that the coup could initiate a bloody civil war. Dulles remained unworried (Schleisinger and Kinzer 117). 3.3.3. Arbenz Discovers the Plot In January 1954, the Panamanian diplomat Jorge Isaac Delago provided a full photocopy of the plot plans to Arbenz, presumably for $100,000. The CIA continued the operation as if nothing had happened and the U.S. press hardly even reacted (Schleisinger and Kinzer 128). Arbenz responded by secretly importing weapons from Czechoslovakia. He wanted to arm peasants and members of the PGT to fight against the army, should it defect (Gleijeses 279, 280). The shipment included two thousand tons of weapons seized from Germans during World War II (Gleijeses 283). Arbenz had to face an internal enemy, the head of Catholic Church of Guatemala, Archbishop Rossell y Arellano. The Archbishop labelled the president and his followers the “scum of the Earth”, enemies of the Church and dangerous ruthless evildoers, who reject “Guatemala’s generous hospitality” (Gleijeses 287). On May 16, a Swedish freighter chartered by Čechofracht arrived to Guatemala (Schleisinger and Kinzer 150). It was loaded with the promised weapons. Unfortunately for Arbenz, most of them were non-functional
(Schleisinger and Kinzer 152). As soon as Eisenhower found out about the shipment, it was used to justify PBSUCCESS, which was already underway (Gleijeses 296). The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times were now convinced that a Soviet plot was discovered. Hysteria seized the U.S. press and the Congress, where danger of the shipment was paralleled to a Soviet atom bomb in New York (Gleijeses 297-299). The Guatemalan army officers became distressed and unhappy, because Arbenz persistently led Guatemala to conflict with Washington (Gleijeses 304, 305). On May 26, a C-47 airplane started dropping leaflets over the Guatemala City, informing that the liberation from Arbenz was near (Gleijeses 309). Guatemalan railways were facing sabotage and the U.S. press came up with a fantasy of Guatemala attacking Honduras (Gleijeses 310). Operation PBSUCCESS was accompanied by the operation Hardrock, which allowed the United States to search and damage every ship destined to Guatemala. Hardrock violated the international law and added to the Guatemalan distress (Gleijeses 312, 313). 3.3.4. The War of No Armies The invasion began on June 17 and it took 10 days to remove Arbenz. The Guatemalan president did not consider Castillo Armas a threat. What terrified him was support of the United States provided to Armas. Both armies were equipped similarly, but “the liberators” had airplanes (Gleijeses 319-322). Kinzer and Schleisinger believe that these airplanes and the terrorist radio broadcasts were crucial for outcome of the war (Schleisinger and Kinzer 185). Gleijeses disagrees, but he admits that it triggered demoralization of any possible civilian militia volunteers (Gleijeses 341). Arbenz selected three trusted friends led by Colonel Díaz to defend Guatemala against “the liberators”. The defence was centred in the junction city of Zacapa (Gleijeses 323, 324). Morale of the liberating army was low.
150 “liberators” were defeated by only 30 Guatemalan soldiers and armed civilians (Gleijeses 326, 327). Toriello appealed to the United Nations for help. France and the United Kingdom wanted to send UN observers to Guatemala. This stance made Dulles furious and he pressed hard on the opposing two nations and the Secretary General. The first U.S. veto against UN in history was not an option as it would make participation of the United States in the invasion more obvious. Dulles eventually persuaded the United Kingdom and France to abstain (Gleijeses 330, 331; Schleisinger and Kinzer 181). The army of Castillo Armas was not advancing (Immerman 161). Meanwhile, Peurifoy was desperately trying to intimidate several Guatemalan officers (Gleijeses 336). They were terrorized by the idea of the United States sending in marines once Armas is out of the game. Several Guatemalan army officers were defeated or refused to fight (Gleijeses 338, 9). The one who learnt a lesson about the character of the U.S. intervention was a young doctor passing through Guatemala, whose name was Ernesto Guevara (Grandin “Empire’s Workshop” 45). Instead of war, people alleged for being communists were tortured by “the liberators”. Dulles did not hesitate to report the story the other way around (Gleijeses 317). The TIME magazine described Arbenz as a ruthless totalitarian murderer (2). The top Guatemalan officers were demoralized. They offered a deal to Peurifoy: resignation of Arbenz to the military junta headed by Díaz and removal of the communists in exchange for withdrawal of the U.S. support from Castillo Armas. Peurifoy demanded resignation without any guarantees (Gleijeses 334, 335). Arbenz resigned (Gleijeses 346, Hey 33). Two CIA agents forced Díaz to follow suit, an air strike ordered by Peurifoy persuaded him. On July 3, Peurifoy brought Armas to Guatemala on an embassy plane from El Salvador. Castillo Armas could not believe they won (Gleijeses 357, Schleisinger and Kinzer 209). Dulles was happy to publicly announce that
“Guatemalans cured the situation, in which UFCO played an insignificant role, themselves” (Schleisinger and Kinzer 217). 3.3.5. An Alternative Conclusion While Immerman (Immerman 166), Schleisinger and Kinzer found propaganda essential in the operation PBSUCCESS and Gleijeses assumes the problem lied in the threat of the United States, at least one more aspect might have been in effect. It was known that Díaz was a heavy drinker, while father of Arbenz was a morphine addict (Schleisinger and Kinzer 50; Gleijeses 136, 199). Arbenz himself had problems with alcohol (Schleisinger and Kinzer 231). One could assume that if Arbenz had any predisposition for alcoholism, he could have selected a heavy drinker for the highest military officer in the country. Not for the similarity of addiction, but because the predispositions of Díaz for alcoholism could have been similar to that of Arbenz. For Díaz, alcohol was a solution of overcoming his weakness (Schleisinger and Kinzer 209). Arbenz used it to escape his failure.
4. Climax 4.1. “Rolling Back” Democracy 4.1.1. Repression Under Armas The operation named PBHISTORY followed to identify the ties of Arbenz to Moscow. The presidential office was thoroughly searched, but no useful materials were found among 150,000 documents (Wilkinson 182). Armas established a committee “against communism”, supported by the law to detain any person without habeas corpus. 1,200 people were arrested and 2,000 went into exile. 72,000 people were listed as extremely dangerous, including every government critic (REMHI 189). Most of the PGT leaders
were tortured, murdered by the U.S. “action unit” and dropped into the ocean (Gleijeses 388, Colonial 98). The Labour Code and the 1944 constitution were now banned. Two thirds of the Guatemalan people were disfranchised and Castillo’s own men replaced the administration (Immerman 199). Officers from the United States gained control over Escuela Politécnica (Schirmer 14). Disobedient workers were eliminated by the police. The Petroleum Code was enabled in 1955 to entitle foreign companies to subsoil rights (Cockcroft 111). Companies from the United States moved back into the country. The old economic, political and ethnic order was reestablished (LaFeber 125). The formerly weak communism was now growing stronger (Immerman 200). Armas received $80 million from the U.S. government during first three years after the invasion (not counting the military assistance). The sum rose to $45 million annually after his death. Reformation and industrialisation were reversed, the economy destabilized. Peasants were driven off their land, unions were illegalized and the press was censored. Armas banned every political party except for the MLN, which was his own (Schleisinger and Kinzer 232,233; Cockcroft 111). Vice-president Nixon praised “the liberator” for accomplishing so much for the people, while Armas and his corrupted government embezzled the Guatemalan national funds (Schleisinger and Kinzer 234) and expelled 30 student leaders from the country, because they opposed his drastic measures. Castillo Armas was assassinated by his personal bodyguard three years after taking the office. His funeral was honoured by Eisenhower’s own son (Schleisinger and Kinzer 235). 4.1.2. From Ydígoras to Guerrillas Ydígoras was now determined to take power, although the CIA donated $297,000 to support his less conservative and repel his more conservative
rivals. Ydígoras threatened to use force, but he was eventually elected, although the army openly intervened in the elections (Schleisinger and Kinzer 236, 237; Schirmer 15; Jonas 59). Officials from the United States approached Ydígoras to give them a piece of land where they could build their base for the Cuban invasion. Ydígoras agreed, seeking to strengthen his position (Schleisinger and Kinzer 238). A person involved with both the CIA and UFCO offered them southern land in the department of Retalhuleu (Schleisinger and Kinzer 238). This was a fatal mistake. Several young, unpaid, nationalistic military officers saw this as the final straw. In 1960, they organized a chaotic coup together with 120 disgruntled officers (half of the army) in pursuit of social justice. Half of the remaining government officers respected the rebels’ cause, but they remained loyal and the coup failed, partly thanks to help of the bombers and a warships provided by the CIA. However, most of the defeated went underground to forge a guerrilla opposition together with remnants of the PGT. They went to the hills, inspired by support of the ladino peasants in the southern regions. Indigenous population did not support the guerrillas. Three leading rebels were Yon Sosa, Turcios Lima and Paz Tejada, former chief of staff who replaced Arana. The first two were originally trained by the United States (Hey 34, 35; REMHI 190, 191; Schleisinger and Kinzer 239; Schirmer 16, Gleijeses 199). In 1962, the guerrillas called for a national rebellion against humiliation and tyranny, seeking a quick overthrow. Several strikes against military installations were conducted since 1962. The secret police chief was murdered, igniting hatred between the guerrillas and the friendly military officers. One of the guerrilla groups trained by the PGT was eliminated due to incompetence. A new student guerrilla movement called Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) emerged. FAR officers were trained in Cuba for tactics of the focal guerrilla warfare (REMHI 193; Hey 35).
Guatemalan people, political parties and even businessmen demanded resignation of Ydígoras. 20 students were killed in demonstrations and the United States grew restless about the public resentment of the despotic Ydígoras (Schleisinger and Kinzer 240, 241; Schirmer 16; REMHI 195). The Guatemalan ruler alerted the military and replaced his cabinet with army officers. J. F. Kennedy aided him with sharp increase of military assistance against people of the southern regions (Schleisinger and Kinzer 241). The Guatemalan army was reinforced with U.S. jets, U.S. Special Forces and the anti-guerrilla warfare specialists. In cooperation with the U.S., Ydígoras successfully suppressed the uprising, killed or jailed hundreds of students, labour organizers, peasants, professionals and ex-soldiers. Even Archbishop Arellano was now frustrated by the sickness, rampant infant mortality rate, malnutrition, illiteracy, social disintegration and conditions resembling the concentration camps. In November, Arévalo announced he was ready to run for presidency. Kennedy allegedly reacted by authorizing the defence minister Peralta Azurdia to overthrow Ydígoras to prevent Arévalo from winning the elections promised for 1964 (Schleisinger and Kinzer 242-244; REMHI 194, 195; Immerman 201). 4.1.3. Reestablishment of the Army In 1963, Azurdia took over the presidential palace, using tanks. The Congress and the constitution were replaced by the “war against communism and terrorism” (REMHI 195, Schleisinger and Kinzer 244). The United States increased the military aid from $280,000 to $1.4 million. Private investments of the United States rose from $50 million to $131 million. Azurdia successfully minimized corruption, imposed a disregarded minimum wage and insufficient economic reforms. He further militarized the country and killed many people. Forced disappearances were used in 32 political cases. The
victims were reportedly dropped into the ocean in secrecy (Anderson 25, Sanford 225, LaFeber 166). In 1966, Azurdia agreed to hold new elections. Mendéz Montenegro was a university professor who emerged victorious and FAR put their weapons down in expectations (REMHI 195). The reinforced military put Montenegro under the pressure to eliminate guerrillas, while he was looking for a diplomatic solution (REMHI 196). Montenegro was forced to give full autonomy to the army and amnesty its members. Weakness of the government became evident (REMHI 197). The United States sent Green Berets into Guatemala to train the antiguerrilla forces for general Arana Osorio. They also provided equipment worth $11 million and the sum of $4 million through the Military Assistance Program (Schleisinger and Kinzer 245). The army was modernized and it doubled in size. The Mobile Military Police (MPA) was created and some 9,000 paramilitary commissioners were introduced. Meanwhile, the guerrillas stopped attacking the army as they expected the government to be more tolerant. President decreed an amnesty on behalf of the guerrillas, asking them to return to their civilian lives. Unfortunately, Turcios Lima was then murdered and the army launched an offensive accompanied by torture, rape and killing (REMHI 200, 201). Such purges pushed the guerrillas through phases of unpredictable transitions. Response of the FAR was to murder the U.S. ambassador, the U.S. Military Mission leader and his advisors. They also killed the German ambassador. The whole guerrilla movement was almost eliminated by the army during the end of the 1960s (REMHI 202, 203; Schleisinger and Kinzer 248). The new interesting phenomena were the clandestine death squads, partly financed by the elites. Some of them were organized by the MLN, others by the military. The army killed from 8,000 to 50,000 peasant and anti-government activists between 1966 and 1968 (REMHI 199-200; Hey 36; Schleisinger and Kinzer 246; LaFeber 258).
However, The New York Times characterized the Guatemalan government only as “a willing partner” and the U.S. officials as observers (Schleisinger and Kinzer 247). The CIA became an integral part of the Guatemalan army. It provided all resources, money and training, because the United States needed to control outcome of the war (Schirmer 171).
4.2. Discovering New Horizons of Terror 4.2.1. The Military Government of General Arana Osorio The presidential elections became a game of the right-wing sections (Schleisinger and Kinzer 249). The FAR wanted to escalate violence and advised people to vote for Arana, who won the elections in 1970. Fertilizers spread in the 1960s and allowed production to increase. The new value of soil led to further land seizures from the natives. The guerrillas killed 30 military officers. Labour organizing was not tolerated by the growing industrial sector or the president (REMHI 202, 206; LaFeber 257; Anderson 29). The army murdered 2,000 political opponents during the first year of Arana’s presidency, including Yon Sosa (Anderson 27; LaFeber 257). Natives trying to reclaim their land were bloodily suppressed by the chief of staff Ríos Montt. The death squads were in full operation. From 3,500 to 15,000 people were murdered (Schleisinger and Kinzer 249). Arana fully cooperated with Somoza and protégés of president Nixon to gain control over the economy. Private investments of the United States rose to $186 million in 1970 (REMHI 207). The United States used the Office of Public Safety program to increase the national police force from 3,000 to 11,000 under provision of $2.6 million from 1966 to 1970. The right-wing elites had their power from the times of Ubico fully restored (Schleisinger and Kinzer 247, 248). In the early 1970s, two new guerrilla units were introduced. They were the northern Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP) and the Organization of People in Arms (ORPA) from the south. Both were successfully gaining support of the
indigenous population (Hey 37). Their aim was to fight against the political enemy (the army) and the economic enemy (the agro-industrial sector) (REMHI 221). The EGP planned to build a defence network for the natives and it successfully eliminated Hérnandez Castellón, the man presumably responsible for much of the killing (Hey 37; Schleisinger and Kinzer 249). Some members of the army started gaining economic power. This situation resulted in conflicts with the traditional elites. A business-military alliance was established (REMHI 228). 4.2.2. Presidency of Kjell Laugerud The elections of 1974 were preceded by murder of 12 Christian Democratic Party officials, who backed Ríos Montt. He would probably have won the elections, but the army manipulated the results to protect its investment policy and declared Kjell Laugerud the president (LaFeber 257; REMHI 210). There was an earthquake in Guatemala in 1976, which claimed 25,000 lives. It forced Guatemalans to create local authorities. Most of the foreign organizations were prevented from entering the country to help the survivors (Schleisinger and Kinzer 249; REMHI 210). Jimmy Carter became president in 1977. He recognized the atrocities supported by the United States in Guatemala. Carter imposed a military aid ban in 1978, but the U.S. State Department continued to support the Guatemalan military with arsenal and money. Israel was used as a proxy to transport weapons and aircrafts (LaFeber 258; REMHI 211; Wilkinson 328). The labour organizations were revived during the Laugerud’s presidency. By 1976, about 80,000 workers were organized, but hatred of the business sector remained the same. The presidency was shaken by 119 stoppages and by demonstrations. Approaching massacres of the 1980s rooted in the removal of natives from their land. The rising military oppression now swelled the guerrilla ranks with volunteers (REMHI 209-10; Anderson 29; LaFeber 258).
4.2.3. Presidency of Romeo Lucas García In 1978, Lucas García was elected president in a fraudulent election. His aim was to harshly suppress the guerrillas, because he feared a revolution similar to that of El Salvador. Lucas faced a heavy civil opposition, but he did not hesitate to suppress it firmly, killing and abducting at least 7,601 opponents since 1979 to 1981. Lucas dismantled student movements and labour organizations. The size of the army increased to 14,000 and it was economically powerful enough to establish its own bank. The Guatemalan military supported Reagan’s presidential campaign with $4 million, although relations between Guatemala and the United States cooled down (REMHI 211,212; Schleisinger and Kinzer 251; LaFeber 260). Transition to the Reagan’s presidency meant increased interest in Central America, because a war took place in El Salvador and Sandinistas started a revolution in Nicaragua. Position of the United States was threatened (Jonas 196). The military oppression moved from relatively selective to global in the 1980s. The country was now run by the army, the death squads and mafia of several private armies. The army introduced a new terrorist military intelligence (G-2). Bodies of tortured and mutilated labour organizers, students, church officials and journalists were either disappeared or found on along the streets every day (Anderson 37; REMHI 213; Schirmer 184). Cooperation with the CIA moved from non-systematic in the 1960s and the 1970s to continuous in the 1980s. Former CIA agents were involved too. The CIA provided computers, special communications, weapons, helicopters and the financial aid of $50 million. Guatemalan Defence Minister general Gramajo served as a liaison between the United States and Guatemala (Schirmer 170, 171). The oil and mining corporations from the United States stared their businesses, pushing more natives out of their land (LaFeber 259).
The army was unstoppable. It burned a Spanish embassy to ashes, including the Spanish officials together with the Guatemalan peasants demanding justice. In 1981, the EGP proclaimed it was still fighting in the name of the agrarian reform undertaken by Arbenz (Schleisinger and Kinzer 252). The military wiped out the official political spectrum and reduced it to either the extreme right “democracy” or anything else, described as communism. It introduced a sophisticated strategy and tactics independent of the United States (Schleisinger and Kinzer 251; REMHI 217). Attacks of the army were either random or targeted against entire communities when the army lost control over them. The guerrilla consisted of about 12,000 people with large support base and it succeeded in killing 57 important military officers (Schirmer 57). Guerrillas also led a terrorist campaign against local authorities under pretext of their collaboration with the army. Both sides of the conflict were exposed to corruption (REMHI 222, 223). The death toll of Lucas regime was 35,000 altogether (Schirmer 44). 4.2.4. The Government of Ríos Montt A dispute between the army and the business sector provoked a coup in 1982 (REMHI 227). It was heavily supported by the CIA (Schirmer 21). Fifty public officials were murdered in a sweep and Ríos Montt took the presidency. Montt shuffled hierarchy of the army and started looking for new ways to legalize terror (REMHI 228). Political parties were banned (Schirmer 21). Montt was a member of the evangelical church and therefore an ideal candidate to eliminate reformed Catholics, who were helping the poor (Schirmer 26). New equipment for the army was delivered by 200 Israeli military experts, who retrained the army in 1982. The CIA secretly provided Montt with $65 million. A pacification campaign called Victoria 82 was launched to rescue civilians from the guerrillas. The plan consisted of psychological, political, anthropological and military parts. Ríos Montt paraphrased Mao Zedong with
his aim to “dry up human sea in which the guerrilla fish swim” -or simply: to eliminate the guerrilla support base. Various areas were selected as the killing zones for the army to burn and kill all the living things within. The Beans and Bullets campaign was introduced, targeting 70% of the effort for recovery of civilians through model villages and 30% of the effort for extermination. The original plan was a widespread holocaust (Schirmer 23, 45, 165; REMHI 229). The army ranks increased to 30,000 in 1983 (Schirmer 7). Plan Victoria 82 hit the guerrillas hard. They reacted by a few sporadic, mainly defensive actions due to increased disorganization in their ranks. In 1982, the army introduced the Civil Patrols, consisting of up to 300,000 forcedly recruited peasants without pay, acting as “eyes and ears” of the army (there were 1.3 million patrollers in 1984). They either had to kill persons on a list prepared by the army or be killed themselves. Meanwhile, the guerrillas united and created Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG). The NSC Planning Group ignored the Carter’s ban and channelled $10 million to Guatemala in 1982. Reagan considered Montt a man “totally dedicated to democracy”, lifted the ban, cancelled all embargoes and provided him with economic and military aid, including $6.3 million in spare parts for the village-exterminating helicopters. The army destroyed 400-500 towns and villages between 1982 and 1983, exterminating from 50,000 to 75,000 people, mostly unarmed peasants. One million people fled their homes in fear. Refugees were deported from the United States to almost certain death (Schleisinger and Kinzer x; REMHI 232; Schirmer 90, 91, 33, 42; Cockcroft 117). The TIME magazine refused to mention a single dead civilian (3).
5. Falling Action 5.1. From Terror to Compromises 5.1.1. Mejia Víctores and Vinicio Cerezo In 1983, Montt and his appointed stooges were overthrown by the defence minister, general Mejia Víctores. The new government decided to change its course to a less oppressive system. Agricultural production was in disarray and assistance programs for the surviving population were inefficient. The business sector realized that any further damage to production would be harmful. New ways for reaching the internal stability through a civilian government were sought for. However, the power of the military remained unchanged and tendencies from 1982 continued, although not that dramatically (REMHI 243, 261). In 1985, Vinicio Cerezo and the Democratic Christian party won the elections after series of strikes by the new labour union, a pattern typical throughout Latin America at that time. Cerezo promised many reforms, assigned less conservative military officers to the government, but an amnesty was issued for both the guerrillas and the army (REMHI 245, 246; Hanáková 53; Cockcroft 118). Similarly to Arévalo, Cerezo refused to analyze the past against the public will. Only a few reforms were undertaken in the end (Schleisinger and Kinzer 258; Hanáková 55). On one hand, he legally enacted taxes, set a minimum wage and accepted the international relieve programs. But Cerezo also supported the army in development of its war plans. The powerful still defended themselves with the rhetoric of democracy and the national security (REMHI 247, 253). Most of military pressed hard against any democratizing tendencies (Schirmer 173). The attitude towards the United States slightly changed. Cerezo refused to help suppress the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua, but the USA supplied the Guatemalan military with transport helicopters and transport services.
The military aid reached $30 million. The United States further provided $75 million in compensation for unpaid taxes and the destabilizing army budget. The government also needed money to bribe some of the officers in prevention of coups. About 100,000 U.S. civilians founded a “sanctuary movement” to help the Guatemalan refugees. They were infiltrated by the disruptive FBI agents. The government started communicating with the guerrillas and mediated negotiations between them and the army. Public tensions were diminishing, although the death squads kept on operating. Violence increased and the guerrilla warfare continued and spread to formerly peaceful areas (Schleisinger and Kinzer 259; REMHI 254, 258, 263; Cockcroft 119). 5.1.2. Serrano Elías and his Successors Serrano Elías was elected in 1990 with 68% of the vote, although his party won only 24.3% of the vote, indicating weakness of the government against the power-craving business sector, whose own candidate was. Conflict of the army and its opponents continued, opposed by the growing struggle for human rights (REMHI 264, 267, 269; Cockcroft 118). Schleisinger and Kinzer assume that when George H. W. Bush became the U.S. president, he decided to remove the military aid after Michael Devine from the United States was murdered (Schleisinger and Kinzer xxii). According to REMHI, however, it was Serrano who publicly refused the military help of $100,000 (REMHI 271). Government of the United States continued to sell weapons to the Guatemalan military anyway. The CIA was secretly cooperating with the Guatemalan military and provided various equipment and at least $44,000 (Harbury 36, 37; Schirmer 171). Many of the Guatemalan military officers were still trained inside the United States (Jonas 206). Serrano also continued the process of negotiations towards peace. There was a shuffle in the army in 1991 to remove the most militaristic officers (REMHI 271).
In 1993, Bill Clinton won the U.S. presidency. In the same year, Serrano abruptly dissolved the Congress, the Supreme Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court. He also suspended certain individual rights, explaining that he was trying to eliminate corruption. This act was opposed by the administration, the business circles and the army. The United States withdrew the economic aid of $30 million. Serrano had to leave his office. A consensus group was formed by businessmen, political parties and various individuals. It demanded purging of the Legislative and Justice. Ramiro de León Carpio was elected president from the group of three candidates (REMHI 273, 274; Hanáková 59). In 1994, the new government and the guerrillas asked the United Nations to participate in the peace process. Guatemala also invited Mexico, Spain, Colombia and Venezuela. They had to be convinced by the Clinton administration (Schleisinger and Kinzer xxiv). The peace process was accelerating. A lawyer named Jennifer Harbury was determined to find out who killed her husband. In 1995, she discovered participation of the CIA in his murder and murder of Devine. The responsible CIA officers were dismissed for misleading the president (Schleisinger and Kinzer xxv, xxvi). Guatemalan business circles and the military received better position for the peace accords as the result of the coup. Carpio was still under pressure of these groups (REMHI 275, 276). Privatization tendencies were harshly rejected by the protesting public. Several treaties to promote the human rights were reached, but none of them was taken seriously (Hanáková 61). The real change came with the following president.
5.1.3. Alvaro Arzú and Signing of the Peace Treaty Alvaro Arzú was elected president in 1996, winning 51% of the vote. He dismissed 8 of 16 active generals and removed more than 100 infamous policemen during the first month in his office. In December 29, a treaty entitled the “Global Agreement for a Firm and Lasting Peace” was signed by the government and the guerrillas. The 36-long war was over. The size of the army diminished and some of the former soldiers joined newly formed criminal gangs. All Civil Patrols were dismissed. Political killings and disappearances stopped. The treaty was supplemented by another accord signed on September 19. It aimed to transform the power to the civilian government and to facilitate transition to the real democracy. However, less then 5% of the population still held more than two thirds of the ecologically threatened land. Rates of poverty, malnutrition, infant mortality and illiteracy remained high. Guatemala was blighted with rampant criminality and drug trafficking. The “Commission of Historical Clarification” was founded to analyze recent Guatemalan history, although it was forbidden to provide names of people responsible for the massacres. Members of the historical research were still threatened with death in 1996. The Roman Catholic Church launched its own “historical memory project” (REMHI) that is thoroughly cited in this thesis (Schleisinger and Kinzer 262-264; Wilkinson 296, 302; Schirmer 269; REMHI 283). A leading figure of the church project was murdered 6 days after releasing it in 1998 (Goldman 25). The Commission of Historical Clarification found out that casualties totalled 150,000-200,000 lives, mostly civil. The military was responsible for 93% of deaths. The guerrillas were responsible for 3% (CEH; Schleisinger and Kinzer 264). In March 1999, Bill Clinton visited Guatemala to apologize to president Arzú and the public for involvement of the United States in the conflict (Goldman 155).
6. Conclusion The conflict inside Guatemala started with colonization. Invaders from Europe and the United States usurped the entire national wealth and pretended that there are no natives or that the lands upon which natives depend are uncultivated. The sad truth is that it was only these usurpers who left half of Guatemala uncultivated and inaccessible. Private property was respected as long as it was not the natives who made claims (Anderson 32). If I were looking for a phrase to describe attitude of the powerful rightwing elites towards Guatemalan people, I would pick one of the Stalin’s famous quotes: “No people, no problem.” This attitude started with arrogance and culminated in genocide. Was the U.S. “Good neighbour policy” only a domesticated version of the Soviet International? The rejection of reality and proclamation of lies is a tradition long utilized by Europeans and Americans to oppress the Mayan nation. The reason is obvious. The thirst for land and power was so strong that they had to come up with a solution to clear up their conscience. It seems incredible that the CIA put Rios Montt in office to “purge the communists”. The murderous strategies of Montt were inspired by Mao Zedong. This was a showcase of democracy for most of the U.S. presidents. It is not pleasant to think about which other regimes resemble democracy according to this logic. Immerman would argue that this was “the cold war ethos”. No, it was not. Exactly the opposite is true. The situation was the same in 1944 as it was in 1524. The United States supported and installed the most despotic regimes in Guatemala during and before the Cold War. We would find comparable cases of corruption, crimes against humanity and totalitarian language beyond the Iron Curtain. The attitude of the United States was based on goals presented under false flags. A caricature of a disguised Stalin saying “just call me José” was produced against Arbenz by the U.S. press. When a Guatemalan soldier asked his U.S. military trainer for his name, he answered: “just call me José”.
When the United States mistakenly bombed Honduras, they blamed it on Arbenz. Wilkinson claims that the United States lost control over the situation in Guatemalan. It is not true. However, Carter lost control over the State Department. The United States lost control over the CIA during the Bush administration. October Revolution was the only real democratic hope Guatemala ever had. While Arévalo evaded direct promotion of social justice in fear of the elites, Arbenz was not afraid to fully speak his mind and even let the communists support him. The United States made no difference between Arévalo and Arbenz though. “They would have overthrown us even if we had grown no bananas”, Fortuny lamented (as qtd. in Gleijeses 4). There is not enough evidence to elaborate on his attitude. However, we could assume that the USA would overthrow Arévalo if he somehow managed to remain the president. Such hypothesis makes the whole communist affair irrelevant. Even members of the guerrilla movement were trained in the United States. Guatemala was transformed into a scorched playground of nationalistic ladino soldiers and power-craving upper classes. 80% of Guatemalan people are Mayan. They were left to watch these intruders kill each other until the EGP was established for them to join the game. It is hard to speak about the civil war if we map the role of the United States – I would rather mark the conflict “a colonial war”. This was neither the first, nor the last time when democracy meant totality and totality meant democracy. When the innocent were labelled murderers and murderers were praised by those in power. Guatemala is an example of a contradictory country where everything has been turned upside down for most of the time. Majority meant minority, truth meant lies, protection meant torture, amnesty meant prosecution, liberation meant enslavement, life meant death and “the country of eternal spring” remained the inferno of the eternal suffering. I thereby finish this conclusion by quoting general Gramajo: “Something what doesn’t seem possible in one country, may well be normal in another”.
7. Bibliography 7.1. Printed Sources o Anderson, Thomas. Politics in Central America (New York: Praeger, 1988). o Cockcroft, James. Neighbors in Turmoil (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989). o Gleijeses, Piero. Shattered Hope (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991). o Goldman, Francisco. The Art of Political Murder (New York: Grove Press, 2008). o Grandin, Greg. Empire’s Workshop (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006). o Grandin, Greg. The Blood of Guatemala (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000). o Hanáková, Klára. Střední Amerika: od guerilly k současnému mírovému ujednání – případ Guatemaly (Praha: Vysoká škola ekonomická v Praze, 1998) o Hey, Hilde. Gross Human Rights Violations: a Search for Causes (Berlin: Springer, 1995) o Immerman, Richard. The CIA in Guatemala (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984). o LaFeber, Walter. Inevitable Revolutions (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984). o REMHI. Guatemala, Never Again! (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1999). o Schirmer, Jennifer. The Guatemalan Military Project (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998). o Schlesinger, Stephen and Stephen Kinzer Bitter Fruit (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005). o Taube, Karl. Aztécké a mayské mýty (Praha: Kma, s.r.o., 2007). o Wilkinson, Daniel. Silence on the Mountain (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004).
7.2. Online Sources o Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification. ”Guatemala, Memory of Silence” CEH. 1994. CEH. 28 February 2009
1. Unknown. “Third Term” TIME online archive. Sep. 22 1941. TIME Inc. 28 February 2009
2. Unknown. “After the fall” TIME online archive. Jul. 12 1954. TIME Inc. 28 February 2009
3. George Russel, James Willwerth “Surprise in the Sermon” TIME online archive. May 23 1983. TIME Inc. 28 February 2009
8. Appendices Appendix 1: Acronyms Used in the Thesis Appendix 2: CD with Digital Version of the Thesis
Appendix 1: Acronyms Used in the Thesis EBS
- Electric Bond and Share
- Boston Fruit Company
- Guerrilla Army of the Poor (Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres)
- Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes)
- International Railroads of Central America
- The Mobile Military Police (Policia Militar Ambulante)
- Organization of People in Arms
- The Revolutionary Party (Partido de Acción Revolucionario)
- Guatemalan Party of Labour (Partido Guatemateco de Trabajo)
- Historical Memory Project (Recuperação da Memória Histórica)
- The United Fruit Company
- The United Provinces of Central America (Organización Revolucionario del Pueblo en Armas)
- Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca)