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Soon CIA aeroplanes were buzzing Guatemala dropping small bombs. Secrets of War s1e56: Cold War: Eisenhower’s Operatives, History 1998
The CIA had now come into its own and in the next year organised the overthrow of Guatemala’s popular leader Jacobo Arbenz. Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States V: The 50s: Eisenhower, The Bomb & The Third World, Showtime 2012
What we wanted to do was have a terror campaign. E Howard Hunt, leader of CIA plot to oust Arbenz and later conspirator in the Watergate break-in
1954: US overthrows democratically elected President Arbenz of Guatemala. 200,000 civilians killed. Michael Moore, Bowling for Columbine, 2002
Journey to Banana Land. Propaganda film William J Ganz Company
One of the first to be attacked was Guatemala ... They are indigenous Mayan people and very poor. In the 1950s, 2% of the population of Guatemala controlled the natural wealth in collusion with the giant US corporations like the United Fruit Company, which dominated banana growing. On the board of United Fruit was John Foster Dulles who happened to be US Secretary of State. His brother Allen happened to run the CIA. Both were Christian fundamentalists, who regarded any opposition as the work of communism and the devil. In 1950 this man Jacobo Arbenz became the first Guatemalan leader to be democratically elected by a majority of his people, who saw in him the hope of social justice. He was the Hugo Chavez of his day ... His land reform policies were modest. Washington was having none of it. John Pilger, The War on Democracy, 2007
General Rios Montt was to be one of Washington’s faces of liberty. During his time as president in the 1980s thousands of people were murdered by death squads, most of them indigenous men, women and children. His guns and helicopters came from the United States. President Reagan flew in to endorse the general, who he described as ‘a man of great personal integrity’. The crushing of Guatemala became America’s blueprint. ibid.
In Guatemala, the United Nations described the Washington-backed campaign against the Mayan People as genocide. ibid.
The franchise operator in Guatemala in the ’70s was John C Trotter, a Texan who believed that godless communism had infiltrated everywhere except the Coca-Cola Company. Guatemala has one of the worst records on human rights. Death squads murder with impunity while four out of five children suffer with malnutrition. Trotter paid his Coca-Cola workers less that two dollars a day. And when they began to unionise, three union officials were murdered and two union lawyers were kidnapped. John Pilger, Burp! Coke Versus Pepsi, ITV 1984
When Arbenz became President in Guatemala, the country was very much under the control of the United Fruit Company and big international corporations. And Arbenz ran on this ticket that says we want to give the land back to the people, and when he was in power he began to implement policies that would do just that, give land rights back to the people. The United Fruit company didn’t like that very much, so they hired a public relations firm and launched a huge campaign in the United States to convince people ... that Arbenz was a Soviet puppet, and if we allowed him to stay in power, the Soviets would have a foothold in this hemisphere ... Out of this public relations campaign came a commitment on the part of the CIA and the Military to take this man out. And in fact we did. We sent in planes. We sent in soldiers. We sent in jackals. We sent everything in to take him out, and did take him out. And as soon as he was removed from office, the new guy that took over after him basically reinstated everything to the big international corporations, including the United Fruit. John Perkins, author Confessions of an Economic Hitman, economist for Chas T Main Inc
12 August 1953 Washington DC: a top secret meeting is convened at the White House. Its task: to deal with a brand-new security threat – a small country in South America – Guatemala. CIA Declassified: The Deadly Phantom Coup, Yesterday 2014
The decision is made – Arbenz must be removed. ibid.
The United Fruit brings in Bernays and he basically understood that what the United Fruit Company had to do was change this from being a popularly elected government that was doing some things that were good for the people there into this being very close to the American shore, a threat to American democracy. Being at a time in the Cold War when Americans responded to issues of the red scare and what communism might do. He was trying to transform this and brilliantly transform it into an issue of a communist threat close to our shores. Larry Tye, journalist Boston Globe
Rebels Invade Guatemala By Land, Sea, Air. Daily Mirror
It’s War In Guatemala. New York Post
In reality Arbenz was a democratic socialist with no links to Moscow. Bernays set out to turn him into a communist threat to America. He organised a trip to Guatemala for influential American journalists. Few of them knew anything about the country or its politics … He also created a fake independent news agency in America – the Middle-American Information Bureau. It bombarded the American media with press releases saying that Moscow was planning to use Guatemala as a beach-head to attack America. All of this had the desired effect. But what Bernays was doing was not just trying to blacken the Arbenz regime, he was part of a secret plot. President Eisenhower had agreed that America should topple the Arbenz government. But secretly. The CIA were instructed to organise a coup. Adam Curtis, The Century of the Self II: The Engineering of Consent, BBC 2002
Guatemala 1954: flushed with success America’s Secret Government decided another troublesome leader must go. This time it was Jacobo Arbenz, the democratically elected President of Guatemala ... President Arbenz had admired Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his government voted often with the American position at the United Nations. But in trying to bring a new deal to Guatemala, Arbenz committed two sins in the eyes of the Eisenhower administration: first, when he opened the system to all political parties he recognised the communists too. Arbenz also embarked on a massive land reform program. Less than 3% of the landowners owned 70% of the land. Bill Moyers, The Secret Government: Constitution in Crisis, 1987
Well of course there was not even a hint of communism in his [Arbenz] government; there were no communists in his Cabinet. Colonel Philip Roettinger, US Marine Corps
He [Arbenz] worked trying to help the local people and trying to help the genocide to be stopped ... He said there’s a tunnel that runs from Belize to Guatemala; it’s being used for trade; it’s being used for making attacks on different groups of Indians, and he travelled up to a hundred miles through it. Jonathan Gray, interview Coast to Coast Hidden Discoveries
Our only crime consisted of decreeing our own laws and applying them to all without exception. Our crime is having enacted an agrarian reform which affected the interests of the United Fruit Company. Our crime is wanting to have our own route to the Atlantic, our own electric power and our own docks and ports. Our crime is our patriotic wish to advance, to progress, to win economic independence to match our political independence. We are condemned because we have given our peasant population land and rights. Jacobo Arbenz, cited Stephen Schlesinger & Stephen Kinzer, Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala
Unfortunately even the President of the United States of America has made little of his high office, and he too, either through lack of information or other reasons, has lent himself to the campaign of pressure and intimidation against Guatemala. ibid.
In preceding months the armed forces conducted a campaign of political violence, including assassination of union leaders and other extrajudicial executions, leaving tortured and mutilated bodies by roadsides for the first time. Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy
In the case of Guatemala and Chile it was necessary to resort to economic strangulation, subversion, and military force to overthrow the democratic regimes and establish the preferred regional standards. ibid.
The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) reports that the percentage of the Guatemalan population living in extreme poverty increased rapidly after the establishment of democracy in 1985: from 45 per cent in that year to 76 per cent in 1988. ibid.
At another ‘human farm’ in Guatemala, babies ranging from eleven days old to four months old had been found. The director of the farm, at the time of his arrest, declared that the children ‘were sold to American or Israeli families whose children needed organ transplants at the cost of $75,000 per child’. ibid.
The nightmare was restored in a coup organized by the CIA, with the cooperation of Guatemalan officers who betrayed their country in fear of the regional superpower ... With regular US support, the regime of terror and torture and disappearance has been maintained, peaking in the late 1960s with direct US government participation. ibid.
The successful intervention under Kennedy to block a democratic election, the direct US participation in murderous counterinsurgency campaigns under Lyndon Johnson, the continuing supply of arms to Guatemala through the late 1970s (contrary to illusory claims) and the reliance on our Israeli mercenary state to fill any gaps when congressional restrictions finally took effect. ibid.