Taracena Flores, Arturo

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The Guatemalan Revolution of October, 1944, following the forced resignation of Jorge Ubico, president of Guatemala for the previous thirteen years, led to a struggle for political and social change that has continued to the present. Many of the issues which emerged in the years following the Revolution continue to concern Guatemalans today, and they have taken on international significance in light of an ongoing political and social struggle, which has periodically turned violent.

The first ten years after the Revolution saw two presidents, Juan José Arévalo and Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, lead the country to adopt a new constitution, broaden suffrage, encourage an active labor movement, and legislate agrarian reform, a labor code, and university autonomy. Progress toward these and other goals was not without opposition, spearheaded by an active anticommunist movement. The first post-revolutionary decade ended with the resignation of Arbenz in June, 1954, prompted by the presence of the Ejército de Liberación Nacional just across the border in Honduras, reinforced by air support from the United States.

Guatemalan national life changed direction in the next decade, 1954-1963, when Carlos Castillo Armas, erstwhile leader of the Ejército de Liberación Nacional, assumed the presidency in July, 1954, and it continued to change when, after his assassination in 1957, Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes was elected president (1958). Many changes initiated during the revolutionary period were maintained--social security, the labor code, and public health programs among them. Others, such as the agrarian reform laws, with their actual and symbolic significance, were drastically modified, and the Constitution of 1945 was abrogated and replaced with a new one in 1956. Many organizations--especially those representing economically deprived sectors of society--were abolished, and new political parties were formed. All of these changes occurred amidst protest--this time from student groups, labor organizations, and the remnants of certain political parties.

The political and ideological struggles which characterized Guatemalan national life during these two decades produced many ephemeral publications which were used by organizations, individuals, and the government for a variety of purposes: to state policy, express opinions, advocate causes, question or denounce the views of others, urge fellow citizens to act, advertise meetings, strikes, and demonstrations, and support political candidates.

From the guide to the Revolution and Counterrevolution in Guatemala, 1944-1963 ., 1950-1957, (Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin)

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