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Guatemala, Cuba and the JFK Assassination

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Larry Hancock: In the new edition of “Someone Would Have Talked” you have done a great job tracing the connections of those in the CIA who were probably involved in someway with the assassination of JFK: David Sanchez Morales, Ted Shackley, William Harvey, Carl E. Jenkins, Rip Robertson, Henry Hecksher, David Phillips, Tracy Barnes, Desmond Phillips and E. Howard Hunt.

It seems highly significant that so many of the CIA officers listed above were also involved in the PB/SUCCESS Project in Guatemala in 1954. It seems it became the constant reference point for the CIA when they considered the possibility of removing the head of a government. Should it be so surprising that the same people should be brought in when it was decided to remove JFK from office?

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Nick Cullather obtained his PhD from the University of Virginia. In July, 1992, Cullather was awarded a one-year contract as a staff historian at the Central Intelligence Agency. Cullather's work at the CIA was eventually declassified and published as Secret History: The Classified Account of its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-54 (1999).

A number of documents relating to the CIA's activities in Guatemala have been declassified since 1999, and a truth and reconciliation process has unearthed other reports, speeches, and writings that shed more light on the role of the United States. Therefore in 2006 Cullather published an updated edition of Secret History: The Classified Account of its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-54. This includes an annotated twenty documents for a new documentary Appendix, culminating with President Clinton's apology to the people of Guatemala.

I am in contact with Nick Cullather. Shall I invite him to discuss his book on the forum.

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From The New York Times:

Ghosts of Guatemala’s Past


June 3, 2011


IN 1954, the American government committed one of the most reprehensible acts in its history when it authorized the C.I.A. to overthrow the democratically elected leader of Guatemala, President Jacobo Arbenz. It did so secretly but later rationalized the coup on the ground that the country was about to fall into communist hands.

Guatemalan society has only recently recovered from the suffering that this intervention caused, including brutal military dictatorships and a genocidal civil war against its Indian population, which led to the deaths of an estimated 200,000 people. Only in the 1980s, when a peace process commenced, did democratic governance resume. But a silence about the Arbenz era continued.

Now, after 25 years of increasingly vibrant democratic rule, Guatemalans feel confident enough to honor the memory of their deposed leader by incorporating his achievements into the national school curriculum, naming a highway after him, and preparing an official biography. America should follow suit by owning up to its own ignoble deed and recognizing Arbenz as the genuine social progressive that he was.

Washington feared Arbenz because he tried to institute agrarian reforms that would hand over fallow land to dispossessed peasants, thereby creating a middle class in a country where 2 percent of the population owned 72 percent of the land. Unfortunately for him, most of that territory belonged to the largest landowner and most powerful body in the state: the American-owned United Fruit Company. Though Arbenz was willing to compensate United Fruit for its losses, it tried to persuade Washington that Arbenz was a crypto-communist who must be ousted.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his brother, Allen, the C.I.A.’s director, were a receptive audience. In the cold war fervor of the times, Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers believed a strike against Arbenz would roll back communism. And the Dulleses had their own personal sympathies for United Fruit: they had done legal work for the company, and counted executives there among their close friends.


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