Reading – Bitter Fruit, pp. 65-157 (Chapters 5-10)
This section of the book discusses how the policies of the Arevalo and Arbenz governments (especially Arbenz) brought the Guatemala government into conflict with the United Fruit Company (this is he focus of chapter 5) and how UFCO launched a lobbying and public relations campaign within the United States to convince the U.S government that the Arbenz government was a treat to U.S. national security and should be removed (the focus of chapters 6-10). Of all the sections of the book, chapters 6-10 are the ones where it is easiest to get lost in the details. Again stay focused on the big picture- the story the authors are telling. A banana company is trying to convince the United States government to overthrow the government of Guatemala. How did the banana company go about doing that? Why were they successful? What is it convinced high ranking U.S. government officials (including President Dwight D. Eisenhower) that the Arbenz government was a threat to U.S national security?
While there are a lot details you can safely ignore, here’s background on a couple of things that are important to understand:
-The Cold War – All this is happening the context of the Cold War, a global struggle for influence and power between the United States and the Soviet Union (a communist superpower ). At the time, U.S. political leaders and most people in the United States saw communism as a grave threat to the United States and its way of life. Although Arbenz was not a communist, a couple of members of the Guatemalan communist party held minor offices in his government. Pay close attention to how the fruit company used that against him.
-The Dulles Brothers – Alan Dulles (head of the CIA) and his brother John Foster Dulles (U.S. Secretary of State) are important figures in the story. They were major figures in the administration of the President Dwight Eisenhower and played a key role in the decision to overthrow Arbenz. While there are a lot of people in the story who you can ignore, pay close attention to the role of the Dulles brothers.
Write a 1-2 page informal response essay that addresses all of the following questions:
How the policies of Arbenz bring the Guatemala government into conflict with the United Fruit Company?
How did the fruit company go about persuading the U.S. government that Arbenz was a threat to U.S. national secruity?
Why was the fruit company successful? Why did the leaders of the U.S. government become convinced that Arbenz had to go?
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