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Arbenz, Jacobo Guzmán (1913–1971)

Dima Zito


Jacobo Guzmán Arbenz was president of Guatemala from 1951 to 1954. After implementing democratic and economic reforms, he was overthrown by a CIA-organized coup d'état and replaced by a military dictatorship. Jacobo Arbenz was the son of a Guatemalan mother and a pharmacist who had immigrated from Switzerland. He pursued a career in the Guatemalan army and taught history and science at the Guatemalan Military Academy. In 1939 he married a Salvadorian immigrant, Maria Cristina Villanova Castro, who had contacts with left-wing activists and who influenced Arbenz toward socialist ideas and opposition to the military dictatorship of Jorge Ubico. In 1944 a growing movement of teachers, students, and skilled workers demanded democratic reforms. After the killing of more than 200 demonstrators by the army, Ubico lost support and passed power to General Francisco Ponce, who announced elections to gain public backing. The presidential candidate of the democratic opposition was Dr. Juan José Arevalo Bermeja, an exiled professor. As Arevalo was to be arrested on returning to Guatemala, Arbenz and other young officers organized a military rebellion. On October 20, 1944, they killed their superiors and distributed arms to Arevalo's supporters. Ponce and Ubico had to leave Guatemala. This “Guatemalan October Revolution” was the beginning of the decade of the “ Democratic Spring .” Arbenz was ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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