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Central America.docx

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HIST 1500
William M.Last

Central America Consists of Guatemala, Honduras, el Salvador, costa rica, belize, and Nicaragua Costa rica is most educated out of central American countries US has conducted military action in central America since 1821 Guatemala – 1950s.  Many large American companies owned land there.  The biggest landowner was the united fruit company (now Chiquita).  2% of population owned 90% of the land  Much of the native owned land was rented out to the US  Land reform was a big issue in central  1951 – Land reform  Arbenz elected president in 1951. He had been major in guatemalan army.  He decided to change guatemala’s economy.  He admired the soviets for their defeat of the germans.  He gave communists jobs in the government  Land reform – he broke up huge estates and started to give away pieces of land to peasants.  The united fruit co went to the Eisenhower administration and said the communists were taking over the country.  1952 – Arbenz issued the decree 900. It took the land away from all the large landowners. They compensated landowners for their land.  Gave large estate owners a tax break and the govt issued bonds to the landowners. Modeled around American policy in Japan after WWII.  Cold war paranoia of communists  Eisenhower admin started to think about getting rid of Arbenz.  Called in Kermit Roosevelt to get rid of Arbenz.  Roosevelt said it wouldn’t work because the people of Guatemala didn’t want Arbenz gone.  P.B. success  Headquarters of operation in florida.  Somoza – Nicaragua ruled by dictator that agreed to help the CIA and gave them access to airstrips in Nicaragua  Planted hidden speakers and radio transmitters  Tried to bribe people in the govt of surrounding countries to make life harder for Arbenz.  They tried to cut off the credit of Guatemala. The US cutoff the supply of guatemala’s oil.  The CIA planted news stories in other countries saying arbenz was working with soviets.  United Fruit Co started supplying pictures of dead bodies to newspapers saying that people in arbenz’s govt had killed them.  Arbenz govt found some of the CIA’s documents to overthrow him and published them. The CIA denied it.  CIA contracted people to start bombing Guatemalan cities  Then cities in Honduras were being bombed.  The US embassy would play tapes of bombing even when bombs weren’t being dropped to scare people.  This happened all throughout 1953  All kinds of shortages were happening in Guatemala.  Guatemala went to the UN saying it had to stop and that they weren’t communist.  June 27, 1954 Arbenz resigned. The army told him that they couldn’t keep going on like this. Arbenz fled to Cuba.  Castillo Armas took over after Arbenz.  He took all of arbenz’s redistributed land and gave it back.  He imprisoned anyone that worked for arbenz’s government.  He purged the armies and burned subversive books.  They began torturing and executing people.  This started a cycle of violence in Guatemal
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