Posts Tagged ‘President Jacobo Arbenz’

Guatemalan migration

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018


To understand why thousands of people have marched out of Central America and headed North, you must understand what came before. The CIA-orchestrated overthrow of Guatemala’s democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 led to the installation of a series of brutal dictators. Decades of violence followed in a 36-year conflict that ended in 1996. Some 200,000 civilians were killed, most of them indigenous people who lived in mountain villages. A tradition of violence, repression, and discrimination continues in Guatemala today.

If you have any connection to this beautiful, complicated country, please read at least the first several paragraphs of this excellent summary by Billy Perigo, written in 2016.


NY Times editorial, “Ghosts of Guatemala’s Past”

Monday, June 6th, 2011

An editorial by Stephen Schlesinger, author of Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, ran on the Op-Ed page of the Friday, June 3, 2011 New York Times.

IN 1954, the American government committed one of the most reprehensible acts in its history when it authorized the C.I.A. to overthrow the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, President Jacobo Arbenz. It did so secretly but later rationalized the coup on the ground that the country was about to fall into communist hands.

Guatemalan society has only recently recovered from the suffering that this intervention caused, including brutal military dictatorships and a genocidal civil war against its Indian population, which led to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people. Only in the 1980s, when a peace process commenced, did democratic governance resume. But a silence about the Arbenz era continued.

Schlesinger goes on to call for the U.S. to “[own] up to its own ignoble deed and recogniz[e] Arbenz as the genuine social progressive that he was.”

Read Schlesinger’s entire editorial  here to gain a better understanding of this pivotal chapter in Guatemalan history.


Mamalita in San Diego; NY Times on Jacobo Arbenz

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Two wonderful items from San Diego:

Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir is a finalist in the Seventeenth Annual San Diego Book and Writing Awards in the category of Memoir. Winners will be announced in a ceremony on June 11, 2011.  What an honor for our story to be nominated! My fingers are crossed.

Also, the online San Diego Jewish World featured Mamalita in American tells of love for daughter and Guatemala. Written by publisher Donald H. Harrison, the article is part of the “World-at-Home” series, in which readers can ’travel’ the world without ever leaving San Diego County.

As Mr. Harrison quotes me as saying: “I love Guatemala… I’m obsessed with Guatemala. I am fascinated by the country.” Sounds like me, all right: always happy to call attention to my favorite place.

Finally, on a separate note. Here are the first two sentences from Guatemala To Restore Legacy of President U.S. Helped Depose, an article by Elisabeth Malkin that ran in the New York Times on May 23, 2011. Anyone who follows Guatemala’s history will want to read the entire piece.

After President Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown in a C.I.A.-backed coup in 1954, the Guatemalan government reversed his policies and branded him a Communist, all but erasing his brief presidency from history.

Nearly six decades later, a democratic Guatemala has promised to restore his legacy and treat him as a statesman.