A small country located at a key point of Central America, Guatemala has a troubled and tragic history, and was thus told by a specialist that it was a "gift from the devil". Recent history seems to confirm this grim diagnosis. The civil war in Guatemala (1962-1996) was one of the longest and deadliest wars of Central America, one of the most disastrous among those experienced by Latin America in recent decades. In the early 1980s, the conflict took a dramatic shift. Over 400 villages were destroyed, and civilians were massacred by the army and paramilitary groups, displacing people, mostly to Mexico.
Repression by the Guatemalan army in the name of an ideology of outdated Cold War (so-called political "subversion of national security") caused 80,000 deaths and disappearances and forced the exodus of ten million inhabitants. The peace process was long and chaotic, but concluded with a definitive agreement on December 29, 1996. If the devil is the secret author of the historical destiny of this republic, there is another player in the region: the United States.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the power of the United States asserted that it was inevitable that the disputed Caribbean area would come under English control. That resulted in a policy of constant rivalry for hegemony in the area, until the Clayto Bulwer Treaty of 1860, in which the two countries mutually agreed not to colonize or occupy any part of the Central American territory. The U.S. presence in Central America was manifest, not only by military intervention (Nicaragua, El Salvador), but also by the massive presence of multinationals.
These companies had the financial strength and technological power to capture the market in certain commodities (including fruits). The United Fruit Company (UFCO), founded in 1899, and its president Minore Quiet - the "green pope" - symbolized the light of its importance in the economy and politics of Central American countries (mainly Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica), displaying the power of these companies. Through the case of Guatemala, we will try to show how, with the changing global economic situation and the internal transformation of the regime, the UFCO managed to expand its empire and become a key player in the country's elite.
The period after independence (1821) saw conservatives and liberals clashing over political power and economic power. The independence of Central American countries has not radically changed the power structure since it is the result of a strategic process in which the Creoles (the son of Spaniards born in America), organized to appropriate the full power by getting rid of the intermediate Spanish. It was not surprising in these circumstances to see the Conservatives take power from 1829 to 1870 and establish a society as rigidly stratified as colonial society. The Conservatives relied on the reactions of lower classes whose social boundaries were marked by the social structure of colonial rule, strongly influenced by the Enlightenment and the desire for continuity of economic and social elite push towards an oligarchic model by the limits of domestic and foreign markets.
Tags: civil war in Guatemala, United Fruit Company (UFCO), Clayto Bulwer Treaty
[...] investors drove a little over the country in dependency and also contributed to the prosperity of Cabrera and his entourage. Fernando Gonzalez Davison explains this "generosity" of Cabrera by the necessity under which he was to create a weight against the heavy reliance of the public treasury to German interests .The land to the Germans (about 10% of total) produced in 1913 more than 2/3 of Guatemalan coffee. The banana became a product of international trade in the 1870s, when regular exchanges between Honduras and New Orleans were established by the New Orleans Bay Island Fruit Company. [...]
[...] According to Edelberto Torres Rivas the enclave of UFCO corresponded to a higher form of capitalist development and that is why it acted as a factor of social and cultural changes. One of these changes results in the formation of a proletariat formed by the plantation workers, those railways, ports and those industries related to banana production. The 1929 crisis has affected the monopoly of the United Fruit Company The impact of the global depression is sent to Guatemala by lower world prices of export products. [...]
[...] He belonged to the group of young officers who rebelled in 1944 against Jorge Ubico, in order to install a democratic regime. In 1945 Juan Jose Arevalo won the presidential elections and then committed a series of reforms. They included the legalization of trade union activity, the extension of civil rights to women and the fight against illiteracy. Presidential elections of 1950, Colonel Jacobo Arbenz left office in the army to become a candidate. He won the election in March 1951. Policy driven by Arbenz reflected a desire to develop the economy within a national framework. [...]
[...] Dosal (Paul), Doing Business with Dictators, A Political History of United Fruit in Guatemala, Wilmington, SR Books 256p. Grieb (Kenneth.J), Guatemalan Caudillo, the diet of Jorge Ubico, Athens, Ohio University Press 384p. Handy Gift of the devil.A history of Guatemala, Toronto, Betxeen Two Lines 319p. Kepner El imperio del banano, Buenos Aires, Editorial Triangulo McCann (Thomas), An American Company: The Tragedy of the United Fruit, New York, Crown Schlesinger (Stephen) and Kinzer (Stephen), Bitter Fruit: the untold strory of the American Chemical blow in Guatemala, New York, Anchor Press Taracena Arriola (Arturo), The origins of the labor movement in Guatemala from 1878 to 1932, Paris, PhD J.Handy, A gift of the devil: a history of Guatemala, Toronto, Between the Lines FGDavison, El Liberal regimen in Guatemala (1871-1944), Guatemala, Editorial Universitaria p44 A.Taracena Arriola, The origins of the labor movement in Guatemala from 1878 to 1932, Paris, 3rd cycle Thesis, EHESS quoted by C.Figueroa Ibarra "marxismo, sociedad y movimiento sindical in Guatemala," Anuario de Estudios Centroamericanos Vol 16 No PP57-860 E.Torres Rivas, Interpretación of desarrollo social Centroamericano, San Jose, EDUCA pp105-106. [...]
[...] However, land reform was the cornerstone of his policy. The greatest obstacle to the implementation of such reform was the fierce opposition of UFCO. In March 1953, for the first time in its history, the UFCO was challenged by a first wave of expropriation, soon followed by a second in October 1953. The government had offered a sum of $ as compensation. A month later the U.S. State Department complained to Arbenz and asked him to reassess compensation, offering the amount of $ 15,854,000. [...]
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