The destruction of democracy by the U.S. In Guatemala in 1954 was a seminal event in 20th century Latin American history. The CIA overthrow of the democratically-elected Jacobo Arbenz government ushered in a decades long reign of terror for the Guatemalan people and in particular for the indigenous Mayan population. Among the most infamous and brutal of the military dictators was Efraim Rios Montt. But he had a staunch ally in Ronald Reagan who said Rios Montt was “totally dedicated to democracy” and was given “a bum rap” on human rights. Interview by David Barsamian.
Stephen Schlesinger is an Adjunct Fellow at the Century Foundation in New York City. For twelve years, he served as Governor Mario Cuomo’s speech writer and foreign policy advisor. He is co-editor of Journals 1952-2000 by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. He is author of Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations which won the 2004 Harry Truman Book Award and Bitter Fruit: The Story of the U.S. Coup in Guatemala (with Stephen Kinzer), which was listed as a New York Times “Notable” book for 1982.