1954 Guatemalan coup d'état

The 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état (18–27 June 1954) was a covert operation carried out by the United States Central Intelligence Agency that deposed the democratically elected President Jacobo Árbenz and ended the Guatemalan Revolution. Codenamed Operation PBSUCCESS, it installed the military regime of Carlos Castillo Armas, the first in a series of military dictators in the country.

Guatemala had been ruled since 1930 by the dictator General Jorge Ubico, supported by the United States government. His regime was one of the most brutally repressive military juntas in the history of Central America. In return for US support he gave hundreds of thousands of hectares of highly fertile land to the American United Fruit Company (UFCO), as well as allowing the US military to establish bases in Guatemala. In 1944, Ubico's repressive policies resulted in a large popular revolt against him, led by students, intellectuals, and a progressive faction of the military. In what was later called the "October Revolution", Ubico was overthrown, resulting in Guatemala's first democratic election.

The elections were won by Juan José Arévalo who was leading a coalition of leftist parties known as the Revolutionary Action Party. He implemented a series of social reforms including minimum wage laws, increased educational funding and near-universal suffrage. Despite his policies being relatively moderate he was widely disliked by the United States government and the United Fruit Company, whose hugely profitable business had been affected by the end to brutal labor practices. Arévalo appointed Jacobo Árbenz as his defense minister, and he played a crucial role in foiling many of the 25 coup attempts that took place during Arévalo's presidency.

Fresh elections were held in 1950. Arévalo did not contest, and Árbenz won in a landslide, receiving three times as many votes as Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes, his nearest challenger, in elections that were generally fair. Árbenz continued the social reform policies of his predecessor and also began an ambitious program of land reform, which attempted to grant small land-holdings to peasants who had been victims of debt slavery prior to Arévalo. This policy expropriated large tracts of un-farmed private land, and redistributed it to landless laborers. Árbenz himself gave up a large portion of his land-holdings. This policy was greatly resented by the UFCO, who had benefited until then from Ubico's largesse. The company lobbied the US government to topple Árbenz. A paramilitary invasion by the CIA overthrew Árbenz in 1954, and installed the military dictator Carlos Castillo Armas.

Following the coup Guatemala was ruled by a series of US-backed military regimes until 1996. The coup sparked off the Guatemalan Civil War against leftist guerrillas, during which the military committed massive human rights violations against the civilian population, including a genocidal campaign against the Maya peoples.

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