"The right of the people to inform themselves freely"
Latin American Historical Awareness Society of the Americas
"The only time people obey us is when we control them."
-Allen Dulles, Director of Central Intelligence-
The Department of Defense, State and other government agencies aided the C.I.A. in developing, training, arming, and facilitating the activities of a political rival, Col. Carlos Castillo Armas. Propaganda was used to dramatize the idea of Communist tyranny.
Over three hundred personnel were trained and garrisoned in neighboring countries. Approximately 80 flight missions were carried out to distribute propaganda as well as strafing and bombing missions during the coup to ensure the downfall of the Guatemalan government.
This memorandum: CIA's Role in the Overthrow of Arbenz, page 2, sub-paragraph d., outlines the overall objective- to spread responsibility for the operation throughout as many Latin American countries as possible in order to lessen the impact of United States participation.
Written 25 years after the fact, as the Guatemalan government unleashed a devastating campaign on the indigenous population, attempts to justify the overthrow of a sovereign nation were made; the biggest being a threat of communism. However, it fails to explain the use of such heinous tactics; the subversion of political leaders, psychological operations against the general population, increasing military aid to members of the former repressive regime, the destabilization of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, while officially claiming no involvement in the matter.
According to the report, Guatemala’s military strength consisted of 7,000 men, a fraction compared to the United States military. The relative ease of the U.S. backed coup suggests Guatemala did not have the resources to defend itself from outside aggression or the ability to become a threat to U.S. "national security".
The memorandum also goes on record to mention a hardening anti-U.S. policy directed against American interests in the country. The following document is an official transcript of an Address given by Guillermo Toriello Garrido, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala at the Tenth Inter-American Conference in Caracas on March of 1954;
The Address presented Guatemala’s aspirations for a free and democratic country and defended the position of a better future for Guatemala and it's citizens.
What the United States branded as anti-U.S. policy was a purging of the resource exploitation that prevented Guatemala from developing into an independent nation.
Toriello outlined U.S. foreign policy in Latin America- to control territory and extract its resources for the profit of Wall Street corporations such as United Fruit.
He proposed economic and social policy based on the humanization of labor management relations in both industry and agriculture, raising living standards, and the subjection of foreign monopolistic enterprises on equal terms with domestic businesses.
Toriello expressed concern that the U.S was guilty of intervention with the intent of overthrowing the Guatemalan government. The U.S. shamelessly denied the facts. In his speech, Toriello solemnly prophesized the future of Latin America;
“Pan Americanism would become an instrument exclusively in the service of monopolistic interests and a weapon of coercion to strangle any attempt at political and economic liberation of the oppressed peoples of Latin America.”
Torriello's speech received the greatest applause and ovation at the conference. Guatemala had made its voice heard, doing what no other country in Latin America had attempted publicly before. Guatemala stood up for economic liberty and freedom against the United States, and sealed its own fate.
The coup that ensued only a few months later validated Toriellos' claims, yet justice has not been brought against the U.S. government or any organization. The actions committed by the C.I.A. devastated Guatemala’s democratic climate, reversing the advances made in social reform and human rights during that time. It also led to a consolidation of power that would haunt the indigenous people for decades.
The most disturbing aspect- the United States sponsored and aided dictatorships as well as provided training for the use of torture, rape, and murder, leading to an ethnic genocide of more than 200,000 indigenous people by the 1980s.