Guatemalan Government Issues Official Apology to Deposed Former President Jacobo Arbenz’s Family...

Guatemalan Government Issues Official Apology to Deposed Former President Jacobo Arbenz’s Family for Human Rights Violations – 57 Years Later

Arbenz Family and other Notables to Give Formal Statements on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011


GUATEMALA CITY, Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC
PR WIRE/ — For the first time in 57 years, the government of
Guatemala is issuing an official apology to the family of the former
President of the Republic of Guatemala, Colonel Juan Jacobo Arbenz Guzman,
popularly known as “The Soldier of the People” for human rights
violations by the Guatemalan state.


Arbenz, one of the icons of the revolution of
1944, was ousted from the Presidency of the Republic by a coup led by the
CIA, on June 27, 1954, under false accusations of communism.  At that
time, his family’s property was confiscated illegally and he was deported,
along with his family.  Arbenz was also publicly humiliated by being
forced to strip naked before cameras at the Guatemala airport.

After many decades, a Friendly Settlement
Agreement was signed by the State in the case of Guatemala vs. Jacobo Arbenz
in May, 2011, and processed by the State of Guatemala and the Commission on
Human Rights, a body of the Organization of American States.

In addition to the apology, the Guatemalan
government also agreed to revise textbooks in Guatemala to include Arbenz’
positive influence on the country (the so-called Guatemalan Spring).  Also,
Arbenz’ biography will be rewritten, the national highway he built will be
named after him, and a new educational program will be created to train
government staff so that they always take into account the needs of farmers
and indigenous people, as Arbenz promoted during his tenure.

The Arbenz family has recently launched
Guatemala Spring, a non-profit organization to support, educate and advocate
for the people of Guatemala.


In 1954, through a secret mission the CIA led
an overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz, a democratically elected leader in
Guatemala, based on trumped-up charges of communism. However, the main
reason for the American-led coup was that American financial interests had
been put at risk.

The Boston-based United Fruit Company (now
called Chiquita Banana) owned most of the land in Guatemala by way of a deal
with Dictator Jorge Ubico in which he granted the American company land free
of taxes for 100 years. Their financial position was threatened by the
agrarian reform that Arbenz was introducing that had been approved by the
Guatemalan congress. Also, the construction of a highway to the main port of
export challenged the American International Railways company, which charged
onerous tolls because it was the only way to reach the port. And the
construction of the hydroelectric plant Jurun Marinala would have freed
Guatemalans from dependency on the US and thus would have broken the
monopoly on electricity of Bond and Share, an American-owned company.

The coup orchestrated by the Eisenhower
administration and the Dulles brothers at the CIA and State Department (who
were on the board of directors for United Fruit Company) forced Arbenz into
exile and the U.S. imposed a junta government that imposed terror,
repression and silence among its citizens. As a result, for the next 50+
years, there has been more violence and civil bloodshed than most countries
have ever seen. More than 200,000 students, workers, professionals, farmers
and non-combatants were killed, and more than one million people became

To date, the U.S. government has never issued
an apology to the people of Guatemala or to the Arbenz Family.  

“I say goodbye to you, my friends,
with bitterness and sorrow, but firm in my convictions.  I am forced to
resign, to remove the pretext for an invasion of our country, and I do so
with an eye on the welfare of the people. “

(Extract from the resignation speech given by
Jacobo Arbenz Guzman on June 27,1954).


October 20, 2011, 10:00 am


Palace of Culture

avenida y 6 calle zona 1. 5A Calle

City, Guatemala


 National Anthem

 Welcoming Remarks

Remarks by Ruth del Valle Cobar, President of the Presidential
Commission for Coordinating Executive Policy on Human Rights –

 Video (provided by the Arbenz family)

Responsibility Act of International Recognition and Apology by the
Constitutional President of the Republic Mr. Alvaro Colom

 Delivery of letter of forgiveness

 Remarks by a representative of the family of former
President Juan Jacobo Arbenz Guzman

 Cultural event


Available for interviews:

  • Juan Jacobo Arbenz Vilanova, son of
    deposed Guatemalan leader Jacobo Arbenz

  • Dr. Erick Arbenz, grandson of
    deposed Guatemalan leader Jacobo Arbenz

  • Claudia Arbenz, granddaughter of
    deposed Guatemalan leader Jacobo Arbenz

  • Kathryn Arbenz, granddaughter of
    deposed Guatemalan leader Jacobo Arbenz


Available Topic Expert(s): For information on
the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.

Erick Arbenz


En Espanol: Ricardo Trejo
+1 (917) 449-9361
(+52)(1)(55) 4482-6104

In English:  Steve Deitsch


SOURCE  The Arbenz Family

Guatemalan Government Issues Official Apology to Deposed Former President Jacobo Arbenz’s Family for Human Rights Violations – 57 Years Later