On October 20, Guatemala celebrates its Día de la Revolución (Revolution’s Day) and everybody gets the day off as it is a national holiday. Well, almost everybody, I am going to be working. :-(
Guatemala always manages to be at the cross roads of historic events. Let me share with you two such instances.
First, there was a medical graduate student from Argentina who decided after having taken a motorcycle journey through South America that he was going to change his reality, his world. He decided that the best place to start this revolution was “Guatemala where President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán headed a democratically elected government that, through land reform and other initiatives, was attempting to end the latifundia system.” It was in Guatemala that this doctor made the necessary networking connections that catapulted to the international political stage. He is now known simply as Che or Che Guevara.
Next, we have the story of a famous mural painting by Diego Rivera that disappeared for 50 years and was found in the warehouses of the Pushkin Museum in Russia. The mural painting “Gloriosa victoria” is now on display at the Palacio Nacional de Cultura, formerly the Guatemala’s National Palace, for the month of October. The mural paints the bloody story behind the 1954 U.S. invasion of Guatemala and the following coup d’état which had freely elected Jacobo Arbenz overthrown. Below, you can read more background information regarding the revolutionary decade between 1944 and 1954.
… On October 20, 1944 by a coup d’état led by Major Francisco Javier Arana and Captain Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, the country was led by a military junta made up of Arana, Arbenz, and Jorge Toriello Garrido. The Junta called Guatemala’s first free election, which was won with a majority of 85 percent by the prominent writer and teacher Juan José Arévalo Bermejo, who had lived in exile in Argentina for 14 years. Arévalo was the first democratically elected president of Guatemala to fully complete the term for which he was elected. His “Christian Socialist” policies, inspired by the U.S. New Deal, were criticized by landowners and the upper class as “communist.”
In 1954, Arévalo’s freely elected Guatemalan successor, Jacobo Arbenz, was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état. Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was installed as president in 1954 and ruled until he was assassinated by a member of his personal guard in 1957.
The operation was preceded by a plan, never fully implemented, as early as 1951, to supply anti-Arbenz forces with weapons, supplies, and funding, Operation PBFORTUNE. Afterwards there was an operation, Operation PBHISTORY, whose objective was to gather and analyze documents from the Arbenz government that would incriminate Arbenz as a Communist puppet.…
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