by Kate Doyle
Published: 1997, Consortium News
Most historians now agree that the CIA-sponsored military coup in 1954 was the poison arrow that pierced the heart of Guatemala’s young democracy. Code-named “PBSUCCESS,” the covert operation overthrew Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, the second legally elected president in Guatemalan history.
Over the next four decades, a succession of military rulers would wage counter-insurgency warfare that also would shred the fabric of Guatemalan society. The violence caused the deaths and disappearances of more than 140,000 Guatemalans. Some human rights activists put the death toll as high as 250,000.