From the time of its colonization at the hands of Spanish Conquistadors in the early 1500’s, Guatemala has suffered under the oppression of dictator after dictator. These dictators, who ruled only with the support of the military and only in their own interests, created a form of serfdom; by 1944, two percent of the people owned 70 percent of the usable land.
The Allies’ victory in WWII marked democracy’s triumph over dictatorship, and the consequences shook Latin America. Questioning why they should support the struggle for democracy in Europe and yet suffer the constraints of dictatorship at home, many Latin Americans rallied to democratize their own political structures. A group of prominent middle–class Brazilians opposed to the continuation of the Vargas dictatorship mused publicly, “If we fight against fascism at the side of the United Nations so that liberty and democracy may be restored to all people, certainly we are not asking too much in demanding for ourselves such rights and guarantees.” The times favored the democratic concepts professed by the middle class. A wave of freedom of speech, press, and assembly engulfed much of Latin America and bathed the middle class with satisfaction. New political parties emerged to represent broader segments of the population. Democracy, always a fragile plant anywhere, seemed ready to blossom throughout Latin America. Nowhere was this change more amply illustrated than in Guatemala, where Jorge Ubico ruled as dictator from 1931 until 1944. Ubico, a former minister of war, carried out unprecedented centralization of the state and repression of his opponents. Although he technically ended debt peonage, the 1934 vagrancy law required the carrying of identification cards and improved ...
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... to overthrow the democratically elected (1950) Guatemalan leader, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Apprehensive of Arbenz’s land reform efforts and the freedom afforded to the communist party under the current regime, President Truman authorized the shipment of weapons and money to anti-Arbenz groups. Within five weeks the operation to topple Arbenz quickly fizzled when representatives loyal to the president uncovered the plot and took steps to solidify their power.
Immerman, R. H. Guatemala as Cold War History. Political Science Quarterly, 629. Retrieved May 4, 2014, from https://learn.uconn.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-762624-dt-content-rid-2584240_1/courses/1143-UCONN-LAMS-1190W-SECZ81-24116/guatemala%20cold%20war%281%29.pdf
Burns, E. B., & Charlip, J. A. (2007). Latin America: an interpretive history (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.
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All throughout the 20th century we can observe the marked presence of totalitarian regimes and governments in Latin America. Countries like Cuba, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic all suffered under the merciless rule of dictators and military leaders. Yet the latter country, the Dominican Republic, experienced a unique variation of these popular dictatorships, one that in the eyes of the world of those times was great, but in the eyes of the Dominicans, was nothing short of deadly.
During the second half of the twentieth century, when the Cold War was on its midst, the United States played an important role in world affairs. The increasing military power that the United States had during the Cold War, allowed it to influence the political decisions that many countries had during this time. The United States directly opposed the idea of communism, which the Soviet Union promoted. This conflict between this two great powers, lasted for five decades, and it tremendously affected the political ideologies of the world. Both countries tried to push their political and economic interest to as many nations as they could, especially those close to their borders. During this time, Guatemala was undergoing a social revolution with communist ideas. The revolution happened as a response to the social injustice committed by the United Fruit Company. The United Fruit Company started to lose land, due to a land reform passed b...
Higgins' books begins with a brief review of the way the United States presidents dealt with Latin America in that era. It starts from President Franklin D, Roosevelt leasing Guantanamo Bay to President Dwight D. Eisenhower invading Guatemala Operations Fortune and Success which becomes the model for President John F. Kennedy's Bay of Pigs operation. It gives more in depth information of how Eisenhower's tactics and plans set up the invasion of Cuba which was later altered, modified and approved by President John F. Kennedy.
Latin America’s independence kicked of with the independence of Haiti. Before the the independence movement that overtook Latin America, Haiti had gained independence twenty years before the movement. The Spanish Empire had been in decline for a period of time after the rise of the English empire and many failed battles on the Spanish (class notes). The French Revolution and the American Revolution had inspired many of the Latin American countries to fight for independence (Chapter 3). They were inspired by the Enlightenment that washed over Europe. Of the inspired, one man stood out and took the movement by heart.
Guatemala held democratic elections in 1944 and 1951, they resulted in leftist government groups holding power and rule of the country. Intervention from the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) backed a more conservative military minded regime. A military coup took place in 1954 to over throw the elected government and install the rule of Carlos Castillo Armas. Carlos Armas was a military general before the coup and with the CIA orchestrated operation he was made President from July 8th 1954 until his assassination in 1957. Upon his assassination, similar militant minded presidents rose to power and continued to run the country. Due to the nature of military dictatorship, in 1960, social discontent began to give way to left wing militants made up of the Mayan indigenous people and rural peasantry. This is the match that lit Guatemala’s Civil War, street battles between the two groups tore the country and pressured the autocratic ruler General Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes to fight harder against the civilian insurrection. Similar to the government Abductions th...
Guatemala’s culture is a unique product of Native American ways and a strong Spanish colonial heritage. About half of Guatemala’s population is mestizo (known in Guatemala as ladino), people of mixed European and indigenous ancestry. Ladino culture is dominant in urban areas, and is heavily influenced by European and North American trends. Unlike many Latin American countries, Guatemala still has a large indigenous population, the Maya, which has retained a distinct identity. Deeply rooted in the rural highlands of Guatemala, many indigenous people speak a Mayan language, follow traditional religious and village customs, and continue a rich tradition in textiles and other crafts. The two cultures have made Guatemala a complex society that is deeply divided between rich and poor. This division has produced much of the tension and violence that have marked Guatemala’s history (Guatemalan Culture and History).
Harry E. Canden. , & Gary Prevost, (2012). Politics Latin America. (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
In Stephen Schlesinger's book Bitter Fruit, the 1954 coup in Guatemala is discussed, with a particular focus on the U.S actants involved, the larger hemispheric implications of the coup, and the use of foreign policy and propaganda to circumvent Latin American nationalism in favor of American corporatism. I argue that The United States fear of communism, conflation of nationalism with communism, and loss of economic supremacy in the Western Hemisphere were the impetus to invade Guatemala under false pretenses. Through the use of propaganda, masterful (and unethical) political manuevering, economic pressure, foreign dictators, and indirect (sometimes more direct) CIA intervention, the U.S was able to oust a democratically elected leader. I,
Though Peurifoy never clearly states that Arbenz defined himself as a communist, which he did not, Peurifoy does go one to say that “If Arbenz is not a communist, he will certainly do until one comes along.” Peurifoy substantiates this claim with the fact that Arbenz had acknowledged there were a few communists in the government, which is not unheard of for the 1950s. Peurifoy strives to validate this evidence by equating the situation in Guatemala to other unnamed observed situations through saying “many countries had thought they were dealing with honest men in the past but awakened too late to the fact that the Communists were in control.” Peurifoy can best link his meager evidence to his claim with a circumstantial connection to an vague, overarching idea of communist manipulation. Only uncovering feeble evidence, Peurifoy does nothing to warrant this evidence, yet his inconsistencies synthesize together into an argument capable of persuading a president.
Burns, Bradford E. Latin America: A Concise Interpretive History. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2002.
For Guatemala, Zemurray’s propaganda led to the collapse of the land reforms which would have empowered the peasants by turning them into producers. As Huxley (76) implies, individual stability precedes social stability. Multinational businesses like Zemurray’s United Fruit Company owe their hosting societies the obligation to act in a sustainable and socially responsible manner that would empower the locals. The use of propaganda by Zemurray was not ethically justified as it destabilized the broader society and led to a strained relationship between the majority Latin American nations and their American neighbors which persists the present.
Firstly, it is important to reflect on the events that led to the coup of Guatemala, and how their struggle to find the perfect, reliable government contributed to their history. After experiencing much distress with former leader, Forge Ubico, the country was able to experience the benefits of having a democratic government with the election of their first democratic president, Juan José Arévalo (Gonzalez, 2011, p. 136). During Arévalo’s time in office, the Guatemalan government made efforts to mend the gap between the rich and poor, as well as tend to the uneven distribution of poverty by devising a