The Guatemalan Revolution I Setting the Stage

       I.            The Cold War Ethos

A.    Basis for U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War

B.     A politics of fear

1. Belief that the Soviet Union was an expansionist, imperialist power

2. Belief that all leftists everywhere were tied to Moscow

3.Belief that all anti-Americanism everywhere was tied to Moscow

4. Belief in Communist Cell Theory - a small group of leftists can undermine a society, prepare it for Communist takeover

5. Munich Analogy/Death of Diplomacy - Communist dictators could not be negotiated with as they might see negotiation as a sign of weakness

6.Containment - in the Nuclear Age, the only way USSR could be stopped was to not allow its power to spread

C.     Leaves little room for Latin American nationalists and reformers, encouraged U.S. to support reliable anti-Communists

    II.            Guatemala on the eve of revolution

A.    The Jorge Ubico years

1.Ruled a dictatorial police state, 1931-1944

2.Emphasis on agrarian export, with enclave economy dominated by United Fruit (now called Chiquita Brands)

3. Put tight controls on rural workforce

a.       Eliminated last vestiges of Mayan self-rule

b.      Imposed vagrancy law that required all to have proof of employment (subsistence farming didn't count)

c.       In many ways, Guatemala becomes two countries

                                                                                                        i.            75% Mayan, 25% Ladino (culturally Western, generally whites and mestizos)

                                                                                                      ii.            Mayans largely illiterate, little contact with urban Ladinos

                                                                                                    iii.            Ladinos controlled economy, politics, little contact with Mayans

B.     October Revolution of 1944 overthrows Ubico

1.Example of defeat of Axis powers in Europe leads to middle-class revolt, demands for democracy

2.Mid-level, middle class officers lead a coup in response to assassination of anti-Ubco newspaper editor

3.No concrete agenda, but coup leaders committed to key principles

a.       Ending semi-feudal nature of Guatemalan society and economics

b.      Creating a capitalist, industrialized economy

c.       Not unlike the modernizing program of Sonoran dynasty in Mexico