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Context of '1944-1954: Guatelama Dictator Overthrown; Reforms Introduced'

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The dictator Jorge Ubico is overthrown and Guatemala enjoys what is known as the “ten years of spring” with two popularly elected and reformist presidents. The second president during this era, President Jacobo Arbenz (1951-1954), permits free expression, legalizes unions, allows diverse political parties, and initiates basic socioeconomic reforms. One key program is a moderate land reform effort aimed at alleviating the suffering of the rural poor, by which only plantations of very high acreage are affected, and only in cases where a certain percentage of such acreage is in fact lying unused. In these extreme cases, the unused portions of the land are not expropriated, but simply purchased by the Guatemalan government at the same value declared on the owner’s tax forms.The property is then resold at low rates to peasant cooperatives. To set an example, President Arbenz starts with his own lands. [Gleijeses, 1992; Woodward, 1999; Schlesinger and Kinzer, 1999]

Entity Tags: United Fruit Company, Jorge Ubico y Castañeda, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán

Timeline Tags: US-Guatemala (1901-2002)

The land redistribution collides with the interests of the United Fruit Company (UFCO), for whom 85 percent of the 550,000 acres they own are uncultivated. The US government demands extra compensation for the United Fruit Company over what has already been given. [Gleijeses, 1992; Woodward, 1999; Schlesinger and Kinzer, 1999]

Entity Tags: United Fruit Company

Timeline Tags: US-Guatemala (1901-2002)

CIA covert Operation PB Success successfully removes Guatemalan leader Arbenz from power. [Gleijeses, 1992; Central Intelligence Agency, 1994; Doyle and Kornbluh, 1997; CNN Perspective, 10/1997; Woodward, 1999; Woodward, 1999; Schlesinger and Kinzer, 1999] The CIA director at this time, Allen Dulles, was formerly the president of the United Fruit Fruit Company (UFCO) and the previous CIA director and under-secretary of state, General Walter Bedell Smith, is on the company’s board of directors. Smith will become UFCO’s president following the overthrow. [Blum, 1995] Allen Dulles’ brother, John Dulles, who is Secretary of State, previously worked as a lawyer defending the United Fruit Company. [Ginsberg, 1996; CNN, 2/21/1999]

Entity Tags: John Foster Dulles, Allen Welsh Dulles, Walter Bedell Smith

Timeline Tags: US International Relations, US-Guatemala (1901-2002)

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