October 20 – Revolution Day in Guatemala

Posted October 20, 2017

If you have to have a revolution in your nation - you want one like this:

Short.

A minimum of death and destruction.

Democratic.

For years, the Guatemalan people had endured the harsh rule of dictator Jorge Ubico y Castaneda. Finally, in June of 1944, there was a general strike. Dictators don't usually treat protestors very well, and Ubico ordered his police officers to disrupt the protests by firing on the crowd and declaring martial law.

But that only made the protestors more determined, and it also made even more Guatemalans angry. Finally, Ubico was forced to resign.

But the dictator's resignation didn't bring democracy.

Instead, the nation was now ruled by three generals appointed by Ubico - and their rule was even harsher.

By October 19, 1944, the progressive soldiers of the army were ready to join forces with university students and unionists, and in just one day they were able to capture the police and army forces that were loyal to the harsh government. 

The generals were forced to surrender and were allowed to leave the country safely.

A group of three revolutionaries led Guatemala briefly until democratic elections could be held. At that point, none of the three leaders ran for election, and a teacher (or professor?) named Juan José Arévalo Bermejo was elected president.

Unfortunately, the democracy ushered in by this relatively peaceful coup only lasted ten years. I'm embarrassed to report that the United States ended up engineering a coup against a democratically elected leader. Then-President Eisenhower signed off on the CIA operation. At the time, Americans were going through a kind of anti-communist witch-hunt-y sort of hysteria, within the U.S., and I guess American leaders were paranoid that Guatemala's government had been infiltrated by communists. But the biggest reason, probably, that the U.S. did such a non-democratic thing was to protect the profits of a big American company active in Guatemala, the United Fruit Company.

Sad!

Still, even though the democracy set up by the Guatemalan
Revolution did not last, Guatemalans today are able to celebrate their special day. The main way they celebrate is by holding massive protests!!! Ten thousand or more people will typically mass in the streets to protest whatever needs protesting. The current - democratic - government of Guatemala allows these protests. Guatemalans also have special feasts and fireworks.



Check out some of beautiful and colorful scenes from Guatemala:








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