Thursday, November 10, 2011

Parasitic Amoebas... ewwww. Oh, and some history stuff too

Well i've spent the past four days lying in a lumpy bed with a pretty bad bacterial stomach infection and parasitic amoebas. So, I guess I don't really have much to write about at this point considering I haven't really done anything since the last time I posted. It's a little frustrating that I haven't yet been able to establish any normalcy in my daily routine, mostly because my routine has changed so many times -- the first day I had to get to Antigua on my own, the next day I wandered around until I found the volunteer office and was set up with my host family, then there was the field day at the school and next was the first  day of real classes then the weekend came then I got sick. Each day has been completely different from the day before and that can be... exhausting. At least I've had time to rest.

I've started reading a pretty good book about cold-war Guatemala called Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. This vid sums up some of what I've read so far:

So Arbenz was the only the second democratically elected president in the history of the country. He, along with Fransisco Arana, led the "October Revolution" that overthrew the quasi-totalitarian regime that suppressed the working class and kept the majority of the country's wealth in the hands of some 2% of the population. After the overthrow succeeded, the revolutionaries had to deal with a completely broken country, which proved to be no easy task. The first president, Juan José Arévalo, entered with a romantic fire and a genuine desire to democratize the country, saying in his inaugural address:
"[W]e are going to begin a period of sympathy for the man who works in the fields, in the shops, on the military bases, in small businesses. We are going to make men equal to men. We are going to add justice and humanity to order...We are going to give civic and legal value to all people who live in this republic"
Despite some success in democratization, the country as a whole saw little improvement, and the once passionate Arévalo appeared a disillusioned man during his speech at Arbenz's inauguration, ending his speech with the words "It is my personal opinion that the contemporary world is moved by the ideas that served as the foundation on which Hitler rose to power." Yeah, he was pretty bummed.

So Arbenz took over and instituted sweeping agrarian reform that radically increased minimum wages and brought peasants from the brink of starvation. Even though Arbenz had no connection to communism and was himself not particularly fond of marxism, fear of communism was so strong in the USA that, well, you watched the video. It's also interesting to note the John Cabot Lodge, ambassador to the U.N. who blatantly lied about the CIA intervention in Guatemala, was a big stockholder in the United Fruit Company, as were a number of congressmen and CIA officials.

If you've got the time, there's a five-part documentary on youtube that goes into more detail about the CIA intervention.

I though this would be a short post but I guess I got carried away. Oh well.

1 comment:

  1. Cullen:

    I just got your blog link. What a great way to follow your travels! I'm glad to hear you are feeling better. Keep posting with ots of pictures!

    Take care.

    Uncle David