By J. Power (Auth.)
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Arbenz, a determined reformer, decided to end once and for all the United Fruit Company's control of vast estates and its near monopoly of banana production. T h e first beneficiaries were to be the Indian population. Despite their spectacular cultural heritage—their direct ancestors, the Maya, were the great civilization that built m a m m o t h temples and houses and pioneered major breakthroughs in astronomy and mathematics—the Indians were a people w h o had experienced worsening poverty.
5 million square kilometers of territory, the country's single railway line, and had great influence in many of Guatemala's most important institutions. Arbenz's experiments n o t only threatened United Fruit, they aroused Washington's fears. S. government was afraid of anything that smacked of communist influence. N o matter that Arbenz himself was clearly n o t a communist and that only four out of fifty-six Guatemalan congressmen were self-confessed communists at that time. T h e Central Intelligence Agency was asked by President Eisenhower to help o v e r t h r o w Arbenz, using as a cover a g r o u p of mercenaries and exiles.
I was interviewing the head of press information of the army, Major Dominguez. In an aside he told me he knew that a distinguished Social Democratic politician had been bumped off by a rival. I asked him h o w he knew. " Y o u see, I used to be military intelligence. But d o n ' t tell anyone or the guerrillas will kill m e . " Surprised, he nodded. " Y e s , but remember, don't tell anyone what I've told y o u . " My loyalty to secrecy in such a situation is, I regret, thin. T h e only task remaining was to confirm the Amnesty investigators' conviction that the intelligence operation actually did the killings.
Amnesty International. The Human Rights Story by J. Power (Auth.)