Latin American Studies ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-9-2021


This thesis will examine the statements and actions of U.S. Congressmen and Senators between 1945 and 1996 to understand how they influenced White House policy towards the regime of Jacobo Árbenz. It will show how legislators equated growing communist influence in the Árbenz regime to Cold War struggles going on in Korea, Indochina and Eastern Europe, and how Congressmen from both parties drew on those fears to pressure Presidents Truman and Eisenhower to "neutralize the threat," leading to Árbenz’s fall. When violence erupted again in Guatemala in 1960-1996, Congress reinterpreted the story of Árbenz as Republicans and Democrats were polarized by Reagan's controversial Central American policy. This thesis will examine comprehensively for the first time the significant role Congress played in the fall of Árbenz in 1954 and in his redemption as a morality tale against U.S. intervention in Central America 29 years later.




Arbenz, Arevalo, Castillo Armas, Johnson, communist, CIA, State Department, Senate, Congress

Document Type


Degree Name

Latin American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Latin American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

William Stanley, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Judy Bieber, Ph.D.

Third Committee Member

Luis Herran Avila, Ph.D.