Aftermath Part I

Aftermath Part I

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Hey everybody, welcome to Safe for Democracy and our second episode.

If you’ve listened to the first podcast, you know that we’d originally planned to do a quick one-two, one episode for the coup in 1954 and one to cover what happened afterwards. But history can balloon on you, and the material I wanted to breeze through in an hour and a half expanded to more than five hours. The script’s not done yet, but it’s over a hundred typewritten pages, and will be a good sight longer before it’s done.

Longer than my undergraduate thesis
Longer than my undergraduate thesis

So what we’ve decided to do is to break the Aftermath up into four parts, the first three being about an hour and the last one somewhat less than two. The feedback we’ve gotten on the first episode is that although everybody loves Dan Carlin, hour long shows are about as long as people want.

All of the shows of the Aftermath will have a bit more noise on them than I would’ve liked, but I recorded them in the quietest place I could get to in this Sierra, the bungalow of a fellow and still-active Peace Corps Volunteer, James Dykstra.

God, just look at him
God, just look at him

I’ve tried to strip out or avoid as much of that noise as I can, but bear with it; we’re talking a lot about campesinos in these shows, and a little bit of campesino ruckus on them can’t hurt too much.

As I release these every few weeks, I’ll have more time to get a headstart on our next topic, Operation Ajax and the coup in Iran, and I’ll have some breathing room to take care of other stuff in my life. Hope that works for you.

Now, on to the show itself.

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This time, we’re looking at the first stage of the aftermath of the coup, from the death of Carlos Castillo Armas by assassination up through the presidency of Mendez Montenegro and the violence of the late 1960s.

It’s a story of guerrilla movements, of terrible repression, and of United States support for the worst of it.

This is a real map of Guatemala that will help you out with the geography.

Here's another much larger, much more detailed map for reference. Click to see it full size.
Click to see it full size.

And this is a crude map that I drew to give myself an idea of where guerrillas and regions were at any given time while I wrote. Take that as you will.

Wasn't kidding about the crude
Wasn’t kidding about the crude


Second-to-last little note here, I’ve added a Paypal donate button on the left-hand side here, and if you’re really enjoying what you’re hearing, I’m living as a freelancer right now, and even really small donations would help me out. Cheers.

I’m going to keep giving you folks bibliographies for these episodes so that you can read the source materials and check me up if you’d like. Enjoy this if it’s your bag:


“Controlling the Counterinsurgency: Plan De Campaña ‘Victoria 82′” National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book.

“The Guatemalan Military: What the U.S. Files Reveal National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book.

“Attacks on Ex-Priests, Liberation Theology Misfire.” The Gazette, April 2, 1986.

“Guatemala Chief Hits Critics in US” 1954. New York Times (1923-Current File), Feb 5, 1954.

“Guatemala’s ‘Plot’ Charges Denounced.” The Washington Post (1923-1954), Jan 31, 1954.

Memory of Silence: The Guatemalan Truth Commission Report, edited by Daniel Rothenberg. New York, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Amnesty International. 1976. Amnesty International Annual Report 1975-1976. London, UK: Amnesty International Publications.

Booth, John A. “Global Forces and Regime Change: Guatemala in the Central American Context.” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 42 (4): 59-87.

Cullather, Nick and Piero Gleijeses. 1999. Secret History: The CIA’s Classified Account of its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Geyer, Georgie Anne. “U.S. Role Grows in Guatemala Rebel Threat.” The Washington Post, Times Herald, Dec 13, 1966.

Goodsell, James Nelson. “US Steps Up Aid, Concern for Central America Nations.” The Christian Science Monitor, Feb 20, 1980.

Hall, Patricia K. “Military Rule Threatens Guatemala’s Highland Maya Indians.” Cultural Survival Quarterly, Jun 30, 1986.

Houser, Henry P. “Guatemala’s Bishops Change Directions.” 1992. The Christian Century, Jun 17, 1992, 605.

Konefal, Betsy. For Every Indio Who Falls: A History of Maya Activism in Guatemala, 1960-1990. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2010.

Nairn, Allan. “The Guns of Guatemala: The Merciless Mission of Rios Montt’s Army.” The New Republic, Apr 11, 1983.

Novak, Michael. “The Case Against Liberation Theology.” New York Times, Oct 21, 1984.

Scharper, Stephen B. “Explaining Liberation Theology.” New York Times, Dec 2, 1984.

Schelsinger, Stephen and Stephen Kinzer. Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1982.

Schirmer, Jennifer. Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights: The Guatemalan Military Project : A Violence Called Democracy. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

Schneider, Ronald M. Communism in Guatemala, 1944-1954: With a Foreword by Arthur P. Whitaker. (Pa. Univ. for Policy Research Inst. Ser. no. 7) (Praeger Pubns. in Russian Hist. and World Communism no. 80), 1959.

Susan Fitzpatrick Behrens. 2004. “From Symbols of the Sacred to Symbols of Subversion to Simply Obscure: Maryknoll Women Religious in Guatemala, 1953 to 1967*.” The Americas 61 (2): 189.

Tho, Brigadier General Tran Dinh. Pacification. US Army in Vietnam. Washington, DC: US Army Center of Military History, 1980.

Audio Acknowledgements

British Pathé. Film ID: 1743.14. Review of the Year: Review of 1962

Cheremisinov, Sergey. “Sirius”

Cooper, Alisdair. “When I Grow Up”

Engel, Kai. “Somnolence”

Hefferman, Jon Luc. “Treacherous Voyage” 

National Archives – Heirs of Vladimir Lenin – National Security Council. Central Intelligence Agency. (09/18/1947 – 12/04/1981 – ARC 1662120 / LI 263.1161 (NBC Guatemala Documentary Audio)

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