US in Latin America

The fear of communism remained relevant in the United States as it began making it's way to Latin American starting in the 1950's. This area of Latin America was a good candidate for communism because of the poverty, disease, and rapid population growth that was taking over many countries. Cuba was the first country of this area that fell under communism due to their dictator Fidel Castro.


The thought to the American government was that communism was going to jump from Cuba, make it's way through South America, up Lain America and Mexico, and finally reaching United States. To stop this, our government allied with Latin American countries like Guatemala to keep a close eye on activity within their government. Just as what was happening in the Sates, countries in Latin America began turning on one another and accusing other countries of communist ways.


The Blame Game:

In 1954 Nicaragua, the largest Latin America country, was accused by its neighbor Guatemala of planning to invade them and that President Anastasio Somoza was housing militants to train at his own estate. No more than three months later was Costa Rica the next victim to be accused. The Nicaraguan government came up with a plot that spies were coming from Costa Rica and planning to kill President Somoza. These outsiders were found and many of them killed by Nicaragua's National Guard who then closed off the frontier the country had with Costa Rica.

Guatemala 1954: Jacobo Arbenz was the democratically-elected president of Guatemala during this time. His government party put forth a number of new policies that caught the attention of the United States and our CIA director Allen Dulles. The fear was that Guatemala would become the next "Soviet beachhead in the western hemisphere". Arbenz began making large advancements in land developments that were controlled by the U.S. which also sparked agitation in our own government.

Eisenhower's Plan:

With the help of the CIA, Eisenhower developed a plan to overthrow the Arbenz government. Eisenhower put Carlos Castillo Armas in charge of 150 troops to go onto Guatemala City and overthrow the government. Eisenhower also included a propaganda campaign along with a "Voice of Liberation" radio show to help spread the word of the fear of the Arbenz government party. Due to the lacking numbers i the army sent, the plan was a complete fail and by June 27, Arbenz was able to flee the country because Castillo's army abandoned him.Castillo was able to form a military junta in the capital which opposed any other political parties, jailed political enemies, and hundreds were murdered who also did not support the group.


Helping other countries for the best?:

After Guatemala the U.S. CIA continued onto other troubled areas in Latin America to remove dictators of communist influence and bring in a new leader to help reform the country. I many cases however, the government was not helping these countries to become self sufficient and did not provide leaders that could lead a country to success. Five years after Guatemala the CIA moved onto Haiti. There "we" helped place "Papa Doc" Duvalier become dictator. While running the country he created his own private police force that were called the "Tonton Macoutes." This force went onto killing more than 100,000 civilians during their families rule. 1964 in Brazil, the CIA overthrows democratic government of Joao Goulart. It was replaced by military junta that was led by General Castelo Branco who, like Duvalier, created his own private police that would hunt down communistsis all over the country, interrogate, torture, and even murder them.


It is hard to think that out of all these horrific acts of killing, that there is a brightside. The original plan that the United States always had in mind was to stop the spread of communism. People back at the home front were beginning to speculate could our government find a way to stop this from coming into our country. After seeing containment fail the pressure surely was on. The significance of the U.S. being involved with Latin American affairs during this time was that it did ultimately stop the spread of communism from coming up the South America and slowly inch it's way towards the states. Unfortunately the toll of this were the countless lives lost through the multiple dictators these countries faced and the military juntas that failed many times. Being apart of the United States though, we are always looking at the bigger picture which was to stop communism from spreading into our home front.

Work Cited:

"CIA Coup of Guatemala in 1954." 1.1 (2010): n. page. Web. 1 May. 2012.

"Guatemala 1954." Cold War Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr 2012.

Harris, Bruce. "Anastasio Somoza Killer file." moreorless: Heros & Killers of the 20th century. N.p., 18/10/06. Web. 26 Apr 2012.

Kangas, Steve. "CIA Meddling in Latin America--1954 to 2002." 1.1 n. page. Web. 1 May. 2012.

Powaski, Ronald. The Cold War. First. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 105-06. Print