The October Revolution

"While I am President, I will not grant liberty of press nor of association because the people of Guatemala are not prepared for democracy and need a strong hand."

- Jorge Ubico 18 June 1944-

    The revolution of 1944 brought radical change to the traditional forms of rule in Guatemala. Landownership of the ruling class had prevailed, and the indigenous groups were viewed as beasts of burden to be subjected to nothing more than a steady supply of labor. General Jorge Ubico was the latest manifestation of the dictatorship that continued to abuse the people of Guatemala with impunity.

 

    Not surprisingly, foreign capital interests were granted liberal and unrestricted concessions and privileges that promoted the inequality of life for the general population. According to the CIA;    

"US interests control virtually all shipping to and from Guatemala, all internal railroad transportation, much of the international air transport operating through Guatemala, and much of the electric power production within the country." 

     United States "interests"-more specifically, United Fruit Company, had monopolized the banana industry, and in doing so gained control over shipping, railroad, and communications services. Land soon became an essential resource for exploitation. Laws were decreed to remove indigenous groups from their land and sold to wealthy landowners, further expanding their power over the people. 

     The working class to include professors, students, and the indigenous groups had been pushed to their limit. The Revolution that occurred was an act of social justice endorsed by the people, provoked by extreme exploitation that had extended its reach to all aspects of Guatemalan society. 

     The popular revolt under Juan Jose Arevalo and later Jacobo Arbenz began a system of government for the people, by the people- the very essence of democracy. Nationalization began to flourish as the indigenous regained the land that had been lost, labor rights were established to protect workers from exploitation, and Guatemala implemented new laws to gain control over its own resources. 

     Following democratic institutions, freedoms of speech and power to organize became tenets of the government, which would later be manipulated by the United States in order to maintain control over the region. Those who opposed the revolution consisted of wealthy landowners and ousted loyalists of the previous governments who depended on the exploitation of the indigenous people. 

     At the top of that list was United Fruit Company, which owned a majority stake in virtually all aspects of Guatemalas' economy. The extent of discrimination and greed becomes clear as the United States conspires to overthrow a government whose only violation was to develop as a sovereign nation.