This document is a transcript translated into English from an interview with Luis Tárano, a Guatemalan man whose opinion on the Guatemalan Revolution changed over time. He was interviewed by Elizabeth Oglesby and Simone Remijnse in 2011, and recounts his perspective on events in Guatemala including the revolution and the coup. As a contract laborer, he felt that the 1944 revolution was “a godsend” and that he was “just about crazy with delight.” Despite his initial support, his opinion changed with the election of Árbenz: “I never again felt that kind of patriotic emotion… the agrarian reform was a disaster. The government didn’t know how to carry it out. A lot of injustices were committed because the government was infiltrated by Communists.” He formed a small guerilla group with his neighbors in attempt to protect his land from land reform committees, and even met with Castillo Armas, though he was in hiding during the actual coup.
This interview demonstrates the complexity of the issues surrounding the 1954 coup. The political divide was not strictly the United States versus Guatemala, because there were mixed opinions within those groups. Support for the values of the revolution was not even consistent for this one man, let alone the entire country. It is important to consider the agency of Guatemalans and diversity of Guatemalan opinions, rather than only framing the story as simply the United States ignoring the will of a homogenous group. Reading and understanding Tárano’s perspective allows for a better understanding of the complexity and contradictions present in these issues.
Tárano, Luis, Elizabeth Oglesby, and Simone Remijnse. “Arevalista to Counterrevolutionary.” In The Guatemala Reader: History, Culture, Politics, edited by Oglesby Elizabeth, Grandin Greg, and Levenson Deborah T., 221-25. Durham; London: Duke University Press, 2011. Accessed April 2, 2021. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv1198vws.50