Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies to Host Groundbreaking...

Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies to Host Groundbreaking Public Forum on U.S.-Led Coup in Guatemala

Arbenz Family and other Notables to Give First Formal Statements on Friday, Oct. 7, 2011


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE — Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies will be hosting a groundbreaking public forum on the 1954 U.S.–led coup of President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala on Friday, October 7, 2011.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110915/NY67901 )

At this event, the Arbenz family and other experts will speak out publicly on the matter in the U.S. for the first time.

In related news, the government of Guatemala will be giving the Arbenz family an official apology for human rights violations at a ceremony at the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala City on Thursday, October 20. The government has also agreed to revise textbooks in Guatemala to include Arbenz’ historic influence on the country, and will also name a national highway after him, among other reparations.

As of yet, the U.S. government has not issued an apology for its actions in Guatemala (although it did recently issue an apology for conducting medical experiments with syphilis on Guatemalan citizens, resulting in 83 deaths).

For more information on this subject and how to help the people of Guatemala rebuild from the terror and violence that resulted from the CIA-led coup, go to www.guatemalaspring.org, a non-profit philanthropic and advocacy organization aimed at making positive change in Guatemala.


In 1954, in the height of the McCarthy era, the U.S. (through a secret CIA mission) led an overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz a democratically elected leader in Guatemala, based on trumped-up charges of communism.

The main reason for the American-led coup was that American officials at the CIA and Department of State and other high key government agencies had financial interests in Guatemala that had been put at risk. The Boston-based United Fruit Company (now called Chiquita Banana) owned most of the land in Guatemala in a deal made with the dictator which gave them 100 years of free taxes and much arable land in Guatemala. Several American companies’ financial position had been threatened by reforms Arbenz had introduced which had been approved by the Guatemalan Congress, including: an agrarian land reform which threatened the land owned by United Fruit Company; the construction of a highway to avoid high tariffs charged by the American-owned International Railways (the only means to the port for export); and the building of a hydroplant to be free of the electric grid owned by American-owned Bond and Share.

Backed by the Eisenhower administration, and the Dulles Brother from the CIA and Department of State, the coup forced Arbenz into exile and the U.S. imposed a junta government. 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 of students, workers, professionals, farmers and non-combatants were killed, and more than one million people became refugees. The country has never been the same since.


Friday, October 7, 2011, 2:00pm – 4:15pm EDT


1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, Concourse

level, Belfer Case Study Room (S020), Harvard University


The Legacy of the Guatemalan Coup: Human Rights and the US-

Latin American Relations (Made possible by Dr. Sergio

Silva-Castaneda and DRCLAS)

Panel 1, 2 – 3pm: The Coup and US-Latin American

Relations Now and Then.

–Featuring Professor Stephen Kinzer ( Boston University),

Professor Rick Wilson, Esq. ( American University College

of Law) and Professor John Coatsworth (Columbia


Panel 2, 3:15 -4:15pm. The Coup in Guatemala: Family


–Featuring anesthesiologist and internist. Erick Arbenz,

MD, and Professor Margarita Arevalo, Video memories by

Jacobo Arbenz Vilanova (son of deposed leader Jacobo


Panel discussions followed by Q & A, also present for this

Q & A will be Stephen Schlesinger co-author of Bitter

Fruit. http://www.stephenschlesinger.com/


Dr. Erick Arbenz, grandson of deposed Guatemalan President

Jacobo Arbenz – will talk about the impact of the coup on

Guatemala and will make a formal statement to the US


Professor John Coatsworth, Dean of School of International

Public Affairs, Columbia University – will talk about the

importance of the coup for the future of US-Latin

American relations

Steven Kinzer, award-winning foreign correspondent; author

of Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change and co-

author of Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American

Coup in Guatemala – will talk about the details of the

1954 coup


Rick Wilson, attorney who took the case of the Arbenz

overthrow to the OAS (Organization of American States) –

will talk about why this case is important now and its


Margarita Arevalo, daughter of former Guatemalan President

Juan Jose Arevalo

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

Erick Arbenz


Stephen Schlesinger


SOURCE David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

Harvard University’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies to Host Groundbreaking Public Forum on U.S.-Led Coup in Guatemala