Birthday of Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, President of Guatemala

Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, the second elected President of Guatemala, was born in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala on September 14, 1913.  Arbenz lived through the turbulent period of Guatemala’s early democracy. In 1950, he was elected by 60% of the vote.  Arbenz continued the agricultural reforms and land redistribution started by his predecessor, to the anger of the United Fruit Company, a North American business that was a large landowner. Soon, the Guatemalan government was labeled as Marxist and a “Soviet satellite”, dangerous talk in the Cold War of the 1950s.  Arbenz was overthrown by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1954, in a horrible instance of election interference.  Arbenz and his family were able to leave the country, and he died of natural causes in Mexico in 1971.

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