This declassified CIA information report by an unknown author focuses on President Árbenz and his policies, along with the state of the United States’ relationship with Guatemala more generally. It was written on October 10, 1952, about four months after the passing of Decree 900, and about a year before the authorization of PBSuccess. The report shows a much more sympathetic view of Árbenz and Guatemala than later CIA documents. The author clearly states their opinion that Árbenz is not communist, nor is he allowing his government to become communist: “Although President Arbenz appears to collaborate with the Communists… I am quite certain that he personally does not agree with the economic and political ideas of the Guatemalan or Soviet Communists, and I am equally certain that he is not now in a position where they can force him to make decisions in their favor.” It also reports that his “social reform” policies, which presumably include Decree 900, “ stem from the US New Deal rather than from Soviet Communism.” However, the author does write critically of Árbenz, including his desire to reduce Guatemala’s dependence on UFCO.
This slightly earlier perspective on Árbenz and Guatemala shows a progression of the United States’, and the CIA’s specifically, attitude towards the issue. It comes after Decree 900, but is not particularly concerned with the legislation. It also recognizes the presence of communists in government positions, but refutes any Soviet threat. However, it was written before the major expropriation of UFCO land in 1953, which suggests a potential reason for the change in view towards the land reform law and the threat of communism. Before UFCO power was threatened directly, the CIA was not as worried about Guatemala’s government.
“Although President Arbenz appears to collaborate with the Communists and extremists to the detriment of Guatemala’s relations with the US, I am quite certain that he personally does not agree with the economic and political ideas of the Guatemalan or Soviet Communists, and I am equally certain that he is not now in a position where they can force him to make decisions in their favor. The reasons for my opinion are as follows:
(a)The President’s social reform ideas stem from the US New Deal rather than from Soviet Communism.
(b)President Arbenz is still convinced that he is “using” Communists and Communism to further his own ends.
(c)He is fully aware of Guatemala’s economic dependence on the US.
(d)Arbenz has no fear of a conservative coup and has taken no active steps to guard against one.
(e)The “opposition” of business groups and conservatives (with the exception of a few landowners) has been greatly exaggerated. This is evidenced by the “surprising” lack of serious concern in most business circles about the effects of the new land reform bill.”
Link to full text: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1952-54Guat/d27
“Central Intelligence Agency Information Report.” U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian, October 10, 1952. https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1952-54Guat/d27.