Guatemala, Revolution, Juan José Arévalo, Bernardo Arévalo, United States Archives, Maya
Juan José Arévalo and the “revolutionaries” brought tremendous change to Guatemala. But well before Arévalo left office, the Revolution was already in the crosshairs of US military might. At least three challenges threatened the government of Arévalo: the ultra conservatives or the “anti-revolutionaries”; competitive aspirations of the revolutionaries; and the overarching power of the US businesses and US government. Arévalo encountered these challenges from the first day of his presidency, and thereafter. Bernardo Arévalo, Guatemala’s recently elected president, faces similar dangers: a powerful opposition from an entrenched civilian and military oligarchy, urban and rural disconnections, foreign economic power and influences, national inequality and corruption, and indigenous and ladino/Hispanic conflicting aspirations. The 78 years spread between 1945 and 2023 means that the details are different, but similarities testify to continuing troubles in Guatemala. A major difference is the 21st century power of indigenous peoples, and Bernardo Arévalo’s pledge to honor and work for the concerns of the indigenous peoples as well as all Guatemalans. This contrasts with the revolutionaries of the 1940s who classified indigenous peoples as peasants requiring education and uplifting through assimilation into the national Hispanic “culture”. In an apparent second difference, currently the United States has been a strong supporter of the new president and the democracy movement. In 1945, the US also appeared to favor Juan José Arévalo, and then soon turned against him.
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