Geography 2020A/B Lecture Notes - Cuban Missile Crisis, Carlos Castillo Armas, Che Guevara

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Published on 18 Mar 2013
March, 07, 2013
Counter-Revolution and Enduring Authoritarianism
-Revolution and counter revolution in Latin American countries in the 20th century cannot be understood apart
from influence from the USA
-The large landowning classes were typically linked to dictators and the military which in turn led to frequent US
military and political intervention and this was a problem because the landowners were also connected to US
corporations in the countries and this resulted in the US siding with authoritarian regimes
-One could say this would lead to inevitable revolutions
-In 1904 there was the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and this was essentially a doctrine of open
interventionism and this later led to the adoption of the Good Neighbour Policy in 1933-34 which was a promise of
non-intervention but the withdrawal of the US troops left behind lots of tyrants
-The Somoza Dynasty started with Anastasio Somoza I who was in power from 1937-56 then there was Luis
Somoza from 1956-63 and finally Anastasio Somoza II from 1963-79
-When the USA left they had created a national guard that would exterminate any trace of democracy and it was
left in the hands of the Somozas
-US interventionism in 1904-33 saw the US support for economic interests made more explicit, in 1933-WW2 there
was the ‘Good Neighbour Policy’, after WW2 though there was a new dynamic as US intervention became ‘anti-
communist’ (frequently allied to dictators)
-No country could go on its own path without the US approving of it and they were fine if leaders went to the far
right as authoritarians but even if men were democratically elected too far to the left they were labelled
dangerous tyrants
-During the 1970`s around 60% of the people in Latin America were living under US-supported dictatorships
-In Haiti from 1915-34 the US governed after their invasion and in 1918 they granted US corporations the right to
own land which had been outlawed since the revolution
-As well the national bank was expropriated and coffee export earnings were geared to pay off debts to US banks
and other foreign creditors and resistance suppressed and even after 1934 the US kept control of the national
bank and left behind virtual police state
-Then in 1956 there was a military coup carried out by Francois Papa Doc’ Duvalier
-There were a series of dictators tied to United Fruit Company and in 1944 military officers overthrew dictators
and brought in a new progressive Constitution and in 1951 they had their second ever election
-Jacobo Arbenz won 2/3 of votes and instituted a series of reforms aimed at reducing role of US corporations in
economy and this was especially aimed at the United Fruit Company (ex: the government port, new highway, new
hydroelectric plant)
-There were also land reforms regarding the United Fruit Company’s unused land because they were only using a
small percentage and 2% of the Guatemalan population controlled 70% of arable land which was a huge issue
-The United Fruit Company was the biggest landowner the Arbenz reform was fairly modest and used legal means
and at first they were basically trying to buy the idle United Fruit Company land
-Arbenz government in 1953 eventually seized the land and it was painted as a ‘red blight’
-Zemurray calls this the beginning of "Soviet expansion in the Americas" and it started ‘Operation Success’ in 1954
involving CIA Destabilization and the US
-Arbenz said “Our only crime consisted of decreeing our laws and applying them to all without exception. Our
crime is having enacted an agrarian reform which affected the interests of the UFC…Our crime is our patriotic wish
to advance, to progress, to win economic independence to match our political independence. We are condemned
because we have given our peasant population land and rights.”
-Arbenz was replaced with a military dictator Carlos Castillo Armas (US immediately recognizes him) and he undoes
reforms and this all led to a series of dictators and a 36 year civil war and the spiral of violence peaked in the early
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