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Setting the Record Straight: Accountability in Reporting on the Guatemalan Economy

For policymakers to make the right decisions, it is crucial that they first have the right information. With this in mind, career U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officer Terrence Brown used his position as the USAID Mission Director in Guatemala to correct discrepancies in diplomatic reporting on the Guatemalan political economy in the early […]

Guatemala in the 1960s: Vigilantes or Government Operatives?

Young political officer William Newlin arrived in Guatemala in early 1966 amidst worsening political and social chaos.  As the civil war raged, thousands of people began disappearing from universities, churches, and media institutions. The Guatemalan government claimed that a right-wing insurgency group was orchestrating the disappearances—the Mano Blanca (White Hand).  An official, top-secret U.S. government […]

Getting the U.S. President to Write to the President of Guatemala About Human Rights (Hint – It’s Who You Know)

With the end of the Cold War, the U.S. began to put greater emphasis on enforcing its policy of protecting human rights worldwide, based on the core belief that people have a set of inviolable rights simply on grounds of being human. Some foreign counterparts were skeptical that the U.S. would give priority to human […]

Drogas y Derechos Humanos: Changing U.S. Policy towards Guatemala

In June 1954 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, concerned about the threat of communism in Guatemala, assisted in the overthrow of the government led by President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán. A five-member junta assumed power. Following communications with Guatemala’s Foreign Ministry and consultations with countries in Central America, the U.S. determined that the new Guatemalan government […]

Cleaning up America’s Backyard: The Overthrow of Guatemala’s Arbenz

The Central Intelligence Agency launched a covert operation on June 18, 1954 to overthrow the left-leaning government in Guatemala. The coup, code-named Operation PBSUCCESS, deposed Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz Guzman, ended the Guatemalan Revolution and installed the military dictatorship of Carlos Castillo Armas. Armas would be the first in a series of U.S.-backed strongmen to […]

An Honest Broker: Remembering Brent Scowcroft

Brent Scowcroft was an Air Force lieutenant turned two-time United States National Security Advisor who served under Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, as well as Deputy National Security Advisor for President Nixon. Later, Scowcroft would serve as chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board for President George W. Bush. Scowcroft’s career was a […]

An Expropriation Saga in Peru

For many Latin American states, expropriation has been a hammer in the toolbox of land or labor reform. For the United States, expropriation has been a thorn in the side of its companies’ profitable operations in the region—and, therefore, a threat to its interests. This conflict has played out many times throughout the region. In […]

Presidents, Russians, and Diplomatic Wives: Anecdotes from a Voice of America Newsman

Journalist Euguene F. Karst knew the importance of words. He personally witnessed how communication could highlight the opinions of little known Russian farmers but also lead to embarrassing misunderstandings for the President of the United States. Through the Office of War Information, Voice of America, and other reporting, Karst worked to spread the principles and […]