Skip to main content

View Diary: Guatemalan Massacres, Death Squads, Torture and Republican Hypocrisy on Iraq (44 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Dirt Slinging (none)

    You seem to want to throw some dirt on Arbenz and Truman but you haven't really rebutted the key issues here.

    I believe that your post, whether intended or not, leaves the reader the impressions:

    1. That the Arbenz government was duly elected by the people and, therefore, that they were merely pure, clean, misunderstood victims of the evil intentions of the United States.
       
    2. That the United States was solely responsible for the overthrow of Arbenz.
       
    3. That the United States did this solely for the benefit of the United Fruit Company and, further, that the threat of having the communists gain a foothold in this hemisphere played no role whatsoever in the decision making process that lead it to participate in the 1954 coup.
       
    4. That the United States continued to provide support to the military dictatorships which followed the coup and, therefore, is solely responsible for all of the 200,000 deaths of the Maya.
       
    5. That the Republicans are the only ones with dirt on their hands in this case.

    If it was your intent to leave the reader with the impressions described above, then I would submit that you seem intent on throwing some dirt on the United States and the Republicans.  I merely want to have the whole picture filled in because, unlike what you have suggested elsewhere, I don't see this issue as black and white as I perceive you are trying to paint it.  If the left is all about being enlightened and able to see the nuances to everything, then you should not have a problem with my introducing the nuance that Arbenz and the Democrats are not as squeaky clean as you want people to believe that they were.

    Side note: You all on this site seem to object to being accused of Blaming America First, and that you can't understand how people would think that is what you are doing.  I do not mean to single you out, MKS, but my reaction to your diary as described above provides one concrete example of why the left gets tagged with this charge.  You appear to be pointing the finger at the United States and the Republicans while omitting and ignoring other information which is not as favorable to your case.  If it is not your intent to deceive and/or paint the United States as being solely at fault here, why do you seek to omit these other facts which are required to place the US policies within a proper historical perspective?

    So, if it was not your intent to convey the impressions then I would submit that you should seek to clarify your position within your post.  I don't object to you holding whatever views you please, but I personally would prefer to have the record reflect the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Do you have any sort of problem with that position?

    •  PS (none)
      My point here is merely to point out why I am looking for what you might consider to be "dirt on Arbenz and Truman".
    •  You "overtsate" my position (none)
      I did not say or imply that the Arbenz people were "pure" or "clean."  You also go beyond what I have said in other ways.

      I have responded to the merits of your assertions by quoting from the very Government documents that you hold are authoritative.  On the first page, it talks about United Fruit Company when you said you could find no reference to them.  You have yet to respond here.

      I send up the white flag and agree to not "argue" but discuss facts, and you tell me in so many words that my diary is an example of "blame America first."  Yet, you praised my Diary above--there is some inconsistency here.

      You state:

      I don't see this issue as black and white as I perceive you are trying to paint it.

      Well, if you are just in the fact-gathering mode, how did you come to the conclusion that things are more complicated than what has been presented?  You have announced your bias to defend the United States, and the Republicans in particular, against accusations of wrongdoing.

      I'll agree to an objective review of the facts but I will need your cooperation in this regard.

      •  I had posted this reply (none)

        before I got (or saw) your white flag. Not that it matters too much, we should still be up front about our positions. The fact that I am interested in defending the US and the Republicans as entities, however, does not mean that I have made up my mind about these issues. It merely highlights that I, too, have a bias which I am acknowledging up front.

        My tone in this post was merely a reaction to the tone of your being "blunt". I was merely being "blunt" as well. No hard feelings.

        (It turns out my hotel has an internet connection so I guess that I may be able to respond in the evenings, if I have time.)

        I have responded to the merits of your assertions by quoting from the very Government documents that you hold are authoritative.  On the first page, it talks about United Fruit Company when you said you could find no reference to them.  You have yet to respond here.

        Where have I ever said that UFC was not mentioned?  I acknowledged them being in the reports here and here.

        Maybe I have not made myself clear.  When I read these reports most of the discussion points are about concerns surrounding communism with very little mention of UFC as a rationale behind US policy. Very little is not none.  Those reports clearly acknowledge that UFC was concerned about their holdings and that they would be happy to have US intervention, but the reports do NOT seem to suggest that PBFORTUNE (under Truman) and later PBSUCESS (under Eisenhower) (I think you have those two switched around in your mind.) were being pursued to protect UFC interests.  My point is simply that of the documents I have been reading better than 80% of the discussion is focused on communism and not UFC, that's all.  Ultimately my point is going to be that to ignore the role of communism, or at the very least perceived communism, in the list of reasons behind the US's decision to get involved is disingenuous.  It played the major role from US policy perspective, much more than UFC did.

        Now, a point of clarification is in order.  I am not claiming that the Maya, per se, were communists.  The CIA memoranda are clearly concerned about communists within the government infrastructure, not the Maya as a population.  You mention McCarthyism.  Isn't the fear of communist influences within the government infrastructure what McCarthyism was all about?  They were worried about it here at home, and they were worried about it anywhere in this hemisphere.  For whatever reason, and I am not yet sure what that was, Guatemala was viewed as if it were the first place the communists were getting a foothold on the western hemisphere.  (I am not saying whether that was or was not justified at this point, merely articulating the observation.)

        Does that mean I am saying that UFC did not matter?  No.  I am just saying that based on my reading I don't believe that UFC was the major reason behind the US involvement. UFC certainly played a role and for its own reasons, but UFC's reasons were not the same as the US's reasons.  I do not believe that UFC exerted that much influence over policy decisions.

        Well, if you are just in the fact-gathering mode, how did you come to the conclusion that things are more complicated than what has been presented?

        Because I have found facts which seeming contradict some of your assertions (which we will get to in due time) and others which at least suggest that you are not telling (or acknowledging) the whole story.

        I send up the white flag and agree to not "argue" but discuss facts, and you tell me in so many words that my diary is an example of "blame America first." Yet, you praised my Diary above--there is some inconsistency here.

        I praised your post for being a nice concise articulation and summary of the main points I have seen you making in your other posts. I stand by that. I think that you have articulated the liberal viewpoint very well.

        That does not mean, however, that I agree with everything that you have written or that I believe that you have necessarily presented things in an unbiased manner. If I agreed with everything in there, there would be no point in our continuing this dialogue.

        Side Question: While we are on the topic, I honestly do feel that one of the intents behind your post is to point a finger at the US. Maybe that is not your intent, I don't know, I just know how the current text comes across to me. If you are not pointing a finger at the US in all of this then could you clarify your thoughts on what you are actually trying to say here?

        View our exercise as your having built a house or something, and I am merely inspecting it for holes or weak points which you might want to shore up. I'll play the role of devils advocate by doing some reading and bringing up points that I find along the way for you to comment on or defend against as the case may be.

        When I grow tired of looking we can look back over our notes and each summarize our final positions just to see where that comes out. If I don't convince you of anything then your summary is already done! :-)

        Thanks for sticking with me.

        •  More United Fruit documents (none)
          You stated:

          When I read the declassified reports from the CIA at the time (see the first three entries at my related resources post), the primary issue of concern was communist influence in the region, or at least their perception of communist influence, with very little mention of UFC.  Why should I ignore the official declassified records as the basis for understanding the reasons behind our actions?  Do you have something that shows them to be inaccurate? (Emphasis Added.)

          I showed you State Department records, comments from the March 11, 1952 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to be precise, which had United Fruit Company mentioned throughout.  That was the NIE that Truman relied on.  As pointed out above, Truman did authorize PBFORTUBE but then after talking with Secretary of State Dean Acheson, he pulled the plug.

          Now let's look at what happened next.  The Eisenhower administration came to power in January 1953s with new Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and the CIA director was Allen Dulles.  Both had extensive ties to United Fruit Company as descried in part in my original Diary.  Then, according to a State Department document found here

          On February 26, 1953, President Arbenz signed an order issued by the Guatemalan National Agrarian Council calling for the expropriation, under provisions of the Agrarian Reform Law of June 17, 1952, of approximately 234,000 acres of United Fruit Company property near Tiquisate on the Pacific side of Guatemala, and offering the company government bonds as compensation. Doc # 13.

          Let's look at the new administration's  May 19, 1953 National Intelligence Estimate for the new administration.  As you know, the site that you have been looking at has more than 14, 000 pages of documents but in my hurried review, the NIEs appear to be a major policy document at a high level.  The May 19, 1953 was the next NIE (in the documents available on the State Department website) after the March 11, 1952 NIE that I have quoted above.  The May 19, 1953 NIE (document #15) states in part as follows:

          2. Communist influence in Guatemala is based on militant advocacy of social reforms and nationalistic policies identified with the Guatemalan Revolution of 1944. It is exercised through the personal influence of individual Communists with the President and within the pro-Administration political parties, through infiltration of the bureaucracy, through control of labor organizations, and through leadership of the agrarian reform movement. The Communists' present objective is not open and direct control of Guatemala. Rather, they seek to neutralize Guatemala as an ally of the United States and to convert its Government into an effective, though indirectly controlled, instrument of Communism. (¶ 2)

          So, "communist influence" is defined as "advocacy of social reforms."  We know there is no connection to the Soviet Union, as shown by the comment in my Diary above.  It's the agrarian program and acquiring land from United Fruit that they are talking about.  That is what the "communist" feature of Guatemala is.  You in fact said that Arbenz's agrarian reform sounded communistic to you.  I agree that the CIA and State Department documents you have been looking at are rife with references to "communism."  But those references are untethered to any specifics aside from the land program and United Fruit Company.

          Here is some more from the May 19, 1953 NIE:

          1. Implementation of the Agrarian Reform Law of 1952 will be the principal objective of the Arbenz Administration during 1953. It is to be expected that the large Guatemalan landholders and the United Fruit Company will be victimized in the process.

          2. The net internal political effect of the implementation of the Agrarian Reform Law will probably be to strengthen the Arbenz Administration and to increase Communist influence and capabilities. Neither the landholders nor the Fruit Company can expect any sympathy in Guatemalan public opinion. Redistribution of their land will be used to mobilize the hitherto inert peasantry in support of the Administration.

          3. The point of reference for consideration of the present political tensions in Guatemala is the Agrarian Reform Law enacted in mid1952. This Law provides for the expropriation of large tracts of unused land and their distribution to farm workers. Although presented as a long-overdue measure of social and economic reform, the Law has strong political motivation and significance. Communists and fellow travelers played a leading part in its enactment; they honeycomb the National Agrarian Department established to administer it. The Communists have incited disorderly peasant seizures of privately owned lands. The Law is being administered in such a way as to destroy the political effectiveness of the large landholders and to mobilize the hitherto politically inert peasantry in support of the regime.

          20...Its immediate objective is not a "People's Democracy" under open and direct Communist control, but rather to neutralize Guatemala as an ally of the United States and to convert the Government into an effective, though indirectly controlled, instrument of Communism. (¶¶  4,6, 15 20)(Emphasis and Italics added.)

          The NIE says United Fruit Company (UFC) will be "victimized" and get no "sympathy?"  It is clear where the sympathies of the administration lie.  What about the "inert peasantry?"

          The Law is being administered in such a way as to destroy the political effectiveness of the large landholders and to mobilize the hitherto politically inert peasantry in support of the regime.   Right on!  About time!   Poor babies, those large landholders.  Can't get a break.

          What about the members of the Guatemala Communist Party?  Arbenz was not a member.  Of the Guatemalan Congress, which is comprised of 56 seats, four are held in 1953 by communists, although the May 19, 1953 NIE says the majority is "sympathetic" to the communists (which is not defined but presumably means that they favor agrarian reform) (¶16.)

           A few statistics about the May 19, 1953 NIE:

          How many paragraphs does it consist of?                                   43

          How many paragraphs refer to UFC by name?                                 11  
          (¶¶ 4, 6, 7, 13, 14, 21, 25, 31, 34, 36 and 37)

          How many paragraphs refer to UFC,  agrarian reform or "US private economic interests"?       21  
          (¶¶ 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 31, 34, 36 and 37)

          How many paragraphs refer to the Soviet Union or Russia?             0

          I don't think an NIE would come out and plainly state that United Fruit Company is the driving force here even if that were the case.  But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck......The CIA coup occurred about a year later in mid-1954.

          More facts about the May 19, 1953 NIE:

          Paragraphs that reference poverty, disease, or malnutrition?                      0

          Paragraphs that refer to Indians or Mayans?                                 0

          Paragraphs that refer to "inert mass of rural workers" or "inert peasantry"      4  
          (¶¶ 6, 15, 22, 36)

          Answer to Side Question  I want the Maya to be given fair consideration, to be recognized as  people, even good people, rather than "inert masses" or "inert peasantry."  There have been many films about and much publicity for almost everyone but the Maya.  They simply do not exist, They do not count.   They should be remembered. That is my bias.

          •  Some comments on your statistics. (none)

            Thanks for pulling your statistics together.  I was trying to think of a way to do something similar but counting paragraphs seems as good as anything.  To recap, you provided the following:

            A few statistics about the May 19, 1953 NIE:

            How many paragraphs does it consist of? 43

            How many paragraphs refer to UFC by name? 11
            (¶¶ 4, 6, 7, 13, 14, 21, 25, 31, 34, 36 and 37)

            How many paragraphs refer to UFC, agrarian reform or "US private economic interests"? 21
            (¶¶ 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27, 31, 34, 36 and 37)

            How many paragraphs refer to the Soviet Union or Russia? 0

            I don't think an NIE would come out and plainly state that United Fruit Company is the driving force here even if that were the case. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck......The CIA coup occurred about a year later in mid-1954.

            More facts about the May 19, 1953 NIE:

            Paragraphs that reference poverty, disease, or malnutrition? 0

            Paragraphs that refer to Indians or Mayans? 0

            Paragraphs that refer to "inert mass of rural workers" or "inert peasantry" 4
            (¶¶ 6, 15, 22, 36)

            It is the things that you choose to leave out, however, which seem to speak volumes.  I believe that the main point of discussion in this specific thread is the relative level of discussion in these CIA reports concerned with Communists and Communist Influence as opposed to the discussion of concerns over the specific interests of the United Fruit Company.  So, there seem to be only 2 really relevant statistics required:

            How many paragraphs refer directly to Communism, Communists, or Communist Influence?        30
            (¶¶ 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43)

            How many paragraphs refer to United Fruit Company, Fruit Company, or UFC?/*/        11
            (¶¶ 4, 6, 7, 13, 14, 21, 25, 31, 34, 36, 37)

            /*/ Note also that as defined within the context of this document, US private interests in Guatemala is actually defined as "The United Fruit Company, the International Railways of Central America, and Empresas Electricas (the principal electric light and power company)," not merely UFC.  It is also unclear whether there were other smaller US organizations which also held interests in Guatemala.

            I will admit from this exercise that references to UFC are somewhat more prevalent than I had remembered, but they are clearly dwarfed by the references to communism by a factor of about 3 to 1.  Even if I accept references to "agrarian reform" or "US private economic interests" as being indirect references to UFC, this merely drops to a factor of 3 to 2.  That means that there are at least 50% more references to communism within this single document than there are references to UFC under the most liberal interpretation of "references to UFC".

            Given this I will stand my my assertion that the primary motivation of the United States was related to concerns about communism gaining a foothold in the Western Hemisphere.  We could gather statistics on additional documents but I see no particular need to do so.  Of the sources I am citing this seems to be one that you find to be the most credible (not to imply that you don't have other sources you consider more credible), so I am happy to leave it at this one.

            I think that you missed a couple of references to "Soviet", however:

            How many paragraphs refer to Soviet?        2
            (¶¶ 19, 34)

            In some other post, you alluded to the fact that this was all occurring during the height of McCarthyism.  During that timeframe, who do you believe that the average American would have thought of when asked "Who does the term Communists refer to in the world today?"  I suspect that most would have replied "the Soviet Union".  So if we want to play the "this" and "that" are the same thing game, I could make a case for "Communists" is actually implied to be equated with "Soviet Union", but I am happy to stay with the term Communists.

            Let me just say that the focus here is on the spread of Communism, not necessarily just the Soviet Union.  Although it could certainly be noted that the Soviet Union did its best to promote communism throughout the world through whatever means it felt were expedient.  The fact that the United States was concerned about the influence of international communists is evident from the following (emphasis added):

            19. The Guatemala Labor (Communist) Party is estimated to have no more than 1,000 members, of whom perhaps less than one-half are militants. The Party is in open communication with international Communism through the Communist-controlled international labor organizations (the Latin American CTAL and the world-wide WFTU) and through visits made to the Soviet Bloc by individual Communists and front group delegations.

            The position of the United States is summed up quite nicely in the first two paragraphs (emphasis and italics added):

            1. The current political situation in Guatemala is adverse to US interests. The Guatemalan Communists exercise a political influence far out of proportion to their small numerical strength. Their influence will probably continue to grow as long as President Arbenz remains in power.

            2. Communist influence in Guatemala is based on militant advocacy of social reforms and nationalistic policies identified with the Guatemalan Revolution of 1944. It is exercised through the personal influence of individual Communists with the President and within the pro-Administration political parties, through infiltration of the bureaucracy, through control of labor organizations, and through leadership of the agrarian reform movement. The Communists' present objective is not open and direct control of Guatemala. Rather, they seek to neutralize Guatemala as an ally of the United States and to convert its Government into an effective, though indirectly controlled, instrument of Communism.

            The first paragraph clearly states that they were concerned about "US interests" (as opposed to UFC interests) and then goes on to express that the basis of that concern was the level of political influence being exerted by Guatemalan Communists (presumably the ones that were traveling to the Soviet Bloc and communicating with those communist-controlled international labor organizations), as well as their belief that the communist influence would continue to grow under Arbenz.

            The second paragraph lays out the primary tactic that the communists were employing (i.e. support for the Agrarian Reform Law) as well as what the United States felt the Communists' primary goal was (i.e. to convert its Government into an effective, though indirectly controlled, instrument of Communism).

            Now, it has been stated several times and in various places that Arbenz himself was not officially a member of the Guatemalan Communist Party.  But we do know A) that he was the one that legalized the formation of the Guatemalan Communist Party, B) that he maintained an effective working relationship with them, and C) when the Supreme Court ruled against the arbitrary execution of the Agrarian Reform Law he took steps to replace those justices that were not in support of his position.  See the following paragraphs (emphasis added):

            14. The toleration of Communist activity which characterized the early years of the Arévalo Administration has developed into an effective working alliance between Arbenz and the Communists. The pursuit of leftist and nationalistic policies has been greatly accelerated under the Arbenz Administration. His first year in office was highlighted by active Government support for the formation of a national labor confederation and by a joint Labor-Government attack on the United Fruit Company. That attack failed, but the alliance of the Government with Communist-led organized labor was firmly established in the course of the struggle.

            15. The point of reference for consideration of the present political tensions in Guatemala is the Agrarian Reform Law enacted in mid1952. This Law provides for the expropriation of large tracts of unused land and their distribution to farm workers. Although presented as a long-overdue measure of social and economic reform, the Law has strong political motivation and significance. Communists and fellow travelers played a leading part in its enactment; they honeycomb the National Agrarian Department established to administer it. The Communists have incited disorderly peasant seizures of privately owned lands. The Law is being administered in such a way as to destroy the political effectiveness of the large landholders and to mobilize the hitherto politically inert peasantry in support of the regime.

            16. The recent congressional electoral campaign has further emphasized Arbenz' political alliance with the Communists. Pressure from the President's office forced some reluctant Administration supporters to accept the newly reorganized and legalized Communist Party (called the Guatemalan Labor Party, or PGT) into the Electoral Front, the pro-Administration coalition. The Electoral Front swept the country, except Guatemala City, where its ticket was decisively defeated by a strong anti-Communist vote. The over-all result of the election was a reduction of Opposition strength in Congress from eleven to five of the 56 seats. Although Communist Party representation remained at four, the Congressional membership includes several additional crypto-Communists and a majority may be considered sympathetic toward the Communist Party line so long as Arbenz favors it.

            17. A further increase in political tension has resulted from a Supreme Court decision favorable to a Guatemalan landholder who had appealed for protection from arbitrary execution of the Agrarian Reform Law. At the instigation of Arbenz, the Guatemalan Congress immediately unseated the justices who favored this decision and replaced them with others more reliable from its point of view. This action provoked an intense but transitory reaction on the part of professional and other elements in Guatemala City already anti-Administration in sentiment.

            So, while Arbenz was politically astute enough not to allow himself to be directly labeled a communist, to quote from you above, "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck......The CIA coup occurred about a year later in mid-1954."  I guess that the United States finally decided that he was a duck, so to speak.

            Also, note that the United States was not the only country concerned with communist influence within Guatemala (and their tendency to try to extend that influence to other neighboring countries).  See the following excerpts (emphasis added):

            33. Ever since the breakup of the Central American federation in 1939 there have been periodic attempts to restore some degree of union among the five states. Guatemala, as the principal state, has usually been the leader in such efforts. In 1951 El Salvador proposed the formation of an Organization of Central American States (ODECA) with a view toward gradual economic union and eventual political union. Guatemala attempted to assume to the leadership of this movement, but El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, alarmed by the manifestations of Communist influence in Guatemala, showed themselves resolved to use ODECA as a means of combating Communism. In consequence Guatemala has withdrawn from ODECA, alleging the existence of an international conspiracy to interfere in Guatemala's internal affairs. This withdrawal confirms Guatemala's isolation in Central America./3/

            /3/On Apr. 4, 1953, Guatemala formally withdrew from ODECA. Foreign Ministers representing the remaining member countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua), met at San Jose, Costa Rica, on Apr. 16, and resolved to invite Guatemala to reconsider its decision. They met again in an extraordinary session at Managua, Nicaragua, July 11-12, where they adopted resolutions condemning Communist infiltration into the countries of Central America ("Resolution of Managua"), and declaring that no action would be taken to block Guatemala's reentry into ODECA, if Guatemala expressed a desire to rejoin the organization. A translation of the text of the Resolution of Managua was transmitted to the Department of State under cover of despatch 29, dated July 21, 1953 (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central File 713.00/ 7-2153). Additional documentation relating to ODECA is ibid., 713.00.

            34. Simultaneously with its withdrawal from ODECA Guatemala complained to the United Nations regarding this alleged foreign interference. It is notable that Guatemala bypassed the Organization of American States in addressing this complaint to the UN. It probably calculated that its charge that US private interests (i.e., the United Fruit Company and its affiliates) were responsible for a "vast conspiracy" to subvert the existing regime would enlist the support of the Soviet and Arab-Asian Blocs in addition to that of such Latin American countries as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Mexico.

            35. El Salvador has shown extreme sensitivity regarding the danger of an extension of Communist influence from Guatemala into El Salvador and other neighboring states; there are persistent reports that El Salvador is giving serious consideration to joint military action with Honduras and Nicaragua against Guatemala. Other Caribbean countries, particularly the Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Venezuela, have also shown concern regarding the development of Guatemala as a center of subversive influence and even of subversive operations. Probable Future Developments [paragraph just ends]

            [...]

            41. The Governments of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua will continue to seek means to oppose the Communistic tendencies of Guatemala, and will give serious consideration to the possibility of effecting a political change in Guatemala through clandestine support of revolutionary activities. It is highly unlikely, however, that they would undertake an open military intervention in Guatemala or actually could organize an effective operation of that character in view of the limited strength of their armed forces, the proportion of that strength required for the maintenance of their own internal security, the fact that their forces are ill-equipped and untrained for field operations, the (for them) probably insuperable logistical obstacles to an open invasion of Guatemala, and the internal and international political difficulties which would ensue. Moreover, foreign military intervention would tend to cause all factions in Guatemala to unite to repel the invasion. So long as it remains united, the Guatemalan Army could defeat any force which El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua were capable of deploying against it. In the event of such an invasion Guatemala could present a clear case of foreign intervention to the Organization of American States.

            At this point it seems fairly clear that the United States was concerned about communist influence within Guatemala and the Arbenz administration.  I still maintain, based on the above analysis, that the primary reason for United States involvement was preventing the spread of communism.

            You appear unwilling to even acknowledge that the United States saw preventing the spread of communism as having played any sort of role at all.  I find this to be somewhat absurd at this point, even given the analysis of just this one document.  We are talking about 10's of thousands of documents and cables.  Is it your contention, then, that all of these documents and cables were merely fabricated over a period of years as some sort of cover-up for the United States' true agenda which was simply to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company?

            This is getting long and I need to go eat.  I will follow-up with some of your other comments in a separate post.

            Thanks for the substantive debate.

            •  "Communism" = Agrarian Reform (none)
              You seem to suggest that communism is somehow a totally separate issue than agrarian reform. That it is a black or white issue: either it was (1) an opposition to communism or (2) opposition to agrarian reform.  Yet, the two are inextricably bound.  

              "Communism" is just a label.  Without "private U.S. interests" and United Fruit Company involvement and complaints, Guatemala would have been just a back-water country ignored by the Soviet Union, with a military of 6,000 men (see paragraph 29 of May 19, 1953 NIE,doc #15 ), and communists who had no plan to take over the country but rather sought to influence or control aspects of the government. Why would the U.S. care about such a country without UFC complaints?--Guatemala would not have even been on the U.S. radar screen without the United Fruit Company.

              By the way, International Railways of Central America was owned by United Fruit Company and (I believe) had a monopoly on transportation in Guatemala, and had objected to an effort to build new highways.  You should also recognize that the May 19, 1953 NIE  states that UFC will be VICTIMIZED (para 4) and was being PERSECUTED (para 13.) That's awfully charged language betraying a clear motive.

              Yes, there are two references to the "Soviet Bloc" (not the Soviet Union) in the May 19, 1953 NIE.  In paragraph 19, there is a reference "to visits made to the Soviet Bloc by individual Communists and front group delegations."  In other words, a couple of Guatemalan Communists (not government officials) went to a conference in a communist satellite country.  Big deal.

                Also, paragraph 34 states in part:

              It is notable that Guatemala bypassed the Organization of American States in addressing this complaint to the UN. It probably calculated that its charge that US private interests (i.e., the United Fruit Company and its affiliates) were responsible for a "vast conspiracy" to subvert the existing regime would enlist the support of the Soviet and Arab-Asian Blocs in addition to that of such Latin American countries as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Mexico.

              This is complete speculation as to the Guatemalan government's state of mind about future events.  That is not evidence of an existing "Soviet" connection.  But it is evidence of a very strained effort to assert a Soviet connection that did not exist.  Remember, as I assert in my original diary above, Guatemala could not even sell bananas to the Soviet Union.

              Also, much of Guatemala's asserted communist activity concerned labor activity and strikes.  Again, big deal.  That describes the U.S. labor movement, which had a certain amount of communist sympathies itself until the late 1940s.  Guatemala's labor movement in many ways was copying ours--only it was a couple of years behind.  It was also trying to survive as a democracy.

              The reference to other Central American countries (Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras)goes back to concern over agrarian reform.  Those countries were governed by dictators who were afraid that democracy would topple them, and specifically were terrified that agrarian  reform would sweep their countries as well. (And, by the way, guess who was the Nicaragaun dictator at this time?  None other than the brutal Somoza whose family remained in power until 1979 when the last Somoza was finally toppled by Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas.  We could have avoided Ortega if we had simply supported democracy in Central America.) And the May 19, 1953 NIE's reference to the communist efforts in Guatemala to support "democratic" elements in the Caribbean (para 32) is comic in its absurdity. It was clear , in spite of the NIE's placing the word "democratic" in quotation marks, that Guatemala was truly trying to promote democracy--even though the U.S. was not. Another concocted rationale...

              After the coup, United Fruit Company executives openly bragged in the U.S. how they had pulled it off.  Of course, the United Fruit Company got back the land that was acquired by the Arbenz government. Yes, there was concern about communism at this time in the U.S.  What happened is that United Fruit Company and the Dulles boys used anti-communist hysteria to stop agrarian reform in Guatemala and protect United Fruit Company's economic position.

              You did not comment on the the fact that the May 19, 1953 NIE does not even discuss the Mayans or their condition--when helping them was the stated justification for agrarian reform.  Why doesn't the "Pottery Barn Rule" apply to Guatemala?
                     

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site