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The Negative Consequences Of The Us Intervention In The Guatemalan Civil War

1916 words - 8 pages

The Guatemalan Civil War was a 20th century civil war that raged from 1954 until 1996. It has profoundly affected geopolitical relationships in Central America, as well as and US policy toward hostile governments. The war shaped geopolitics in that region and impacted not just Guatemala but the countries vested in the so-called Cold War as a whole. There is disagreement among historians, however, concerning how much US influence guided the outcome of the conflict. Through extensive research, it is clear that the United States of America’s impact on the war was both highly significant and highly detrimental to the US’s geopolitical interests. By studying the evidence, we can establish that the US acted in contrast with its own stated ideals, acting as an indispensible partner in the crimes of the Guatemalan Civil War.

The seeds of the Guatemalan Civil War were sown in the early 1940s. Left-leaning dictator Jorge Ubico was forced to leave his post in response to general dissatisfaction. His replacement, Gen. Juan Federico Ponce Vaides, a powerful army officer, was deposed just two months later by a coup led by a junta of mid-level army officers. This government organized free elections, Guatemala's first ever, and the writer and philosopher Juan Jose Arevalo was elected president. Arelavo referred to his philosophy as "Arevalismo", a kind of Christian socialism that touted liberalism and labor reforms. Many critics of his policies believed them to be essentially communism or, as one put it, "an attempt to beguile a misguided poor people with the promise of happiness." Still, he was popular inside Guatemala and instituted a period of greater freedom than had been experienced previously.

The US government noted Guatemala's "drift to the left" with concern. It was perceived at high levels of the Department of State that the small Central American country was on the path to communism. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles was particularly interested in US intervention and championed the idea of providing material support to opposition forces. The United Fruit Company, an international fruit importer with a big stake in Guatemala, approached the State Department and submitted a report in which it asked for US ,,assistance" so that it could continue doing business in Guatemala. Then-director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Allen Dulles, was the Secretary of State's brother and a major shareholder in United Fruit. Under his direction, the CIA launched operation PBSUCCESS in 1953 to assist, arm, and otherwise aide right-wing rebels in Guatemala.

By this time, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman had replaced Arevalo as president. The two had few ideological differences, and the US government was increasingly concerned, according to recently released documents, that Guatemala would become the "Soviet beachhead in the western hemisphere", as Allen Dulles said. President Dwight Eisenhower, who was subject to the popular anti-communist sentiment of the McCarthy...

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