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date: 13 June 2024

“Estos gringos no entienden nada”: Anastasio Somoza and the Regional Dimension of the 1954 Coup d’etat in Guatemalalocked

“Estos gringos no entienden nada”: Anastasio Somoza and the Regional Dimension of the 1954 Coup d’etat in Guatemalalocked

  • Roberto GarcíaRoberto GarcíaHistoria Americana, Universidad de la Republica Uruguay


Between 1944 and 1954, Guatemala had a radical democratic experience that significantly impacted its closest neighbors. During that time, two revolutionary governments, one led by Juan José Arévalo and the other by Jacobo Árbenz, promoted a set of political, economic, and social reforms unprecedented in Central America. These reforms did not follow a linear process but were made possible within a framework of broad freedoms. Surrounded by dictatorships and authoritarian rulers, Guatemala was gradually becoming a kind of democratic refuge for many exiled and persecuted people from different locations, though most came from Central American and Caribbean countries. The reform cycle accelerated remarkably after the approval of agrarian reforms in mid-1952, which radicalized the conservative stance of Guatemala’s neighbors and angered the United Fruit Company, the country’s major agriculture company. After numerous attempts to overthrow both leaders, local forces, in convergence with their regional counterparts, managed to convince the new US administration, headed by Dwight Eisenhower, of the danger of Guatemala’s role. The success of the covert coup in Iran (1953) also acted as a catalyst and facilitated the execution of a similar, secret plan to finally cause the collapse of the Árbenz government. The coup, which ultimately achieved its objective in June 1954, constitutes one of the most explored and emblematic themes of international relations in Latin America during the Cold War. Its consequences have endured into the 21st century.


  • History of Central America
  • 1945–1991
  • Revolutions and Rebellions

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