chapter  4
24 Pages

Guatemala: Crisis and Response

WithPiero Gleijeses

The extreme repression that characterized the period of Mendez Montenegro continued unabated throughout most of the presidency of Gen. Carlos Arana. In June 1954 the government of the United States scored a signal victory by achieving, at little cost, the overthrow of Guatemala's president, Jacobo Arbenz. Laugerud's ineffectual modernizing effort was replaced by violence that soon reached levels unprecedented even by Guatemalan standards. The fledgling political center, which had once more begun to develop under Laugerud, was again ruthlessly persecuted. The Reagan administration came to power saying that it would return America to its former grandeur; it promised to redress Carter's policy of "blunders" based on humililiating concessions to Communist and radical states, and vowed to end the betrayal of loyal allies like Anastasio Somoza and the shah of Iran. The administration's largest stumbling block to a rapprochement with Guatemala was that country's own government.