Attack on the National Palace in Guatemala - Oct. 19, 1944
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It's the show where we explore the past one day at a time with a quick look at what happened today in history. Hello and welcome to the podcast. I'm Tracy v Wilson and effect Tober nineteenth members of the military attack the national palace in Guatemala on this stay in nineteen forty four during the Guatemalan, it revolution. This revolution had started earlier in nineteen forty, four as students and young military officers rose up against president hor hate Biko. He had been elected president in nineteen thirty one and his early presidency had included a campaign against government corruption improvements to public health, an overhaul of Guatemala's infrastructure and helping to stabilize the country's economy, but by nineteen forty four. He had gotten rid of all political opposition and he was governing as a military dictator, his policies that also increasingly favored elite landowners and corporations, especially the US based United fruit company, which owned a lot of the land in Guatemala. It wasn't actually using most of that land beginning. It wasn't available for anyone else to use either. He had also implemented things like decree eighteen sixteen, which exempted landowners from prosecution, if they used violence to defend their land up to including murdering someone, he could also abolished a series of forced labor laws, but then replaced them with vagrancy laws that were very similar in these really amounted to indentured servitude in a lot of cases, the so-called vagrants who were being forced to work. We're from Guatemala. Maya peoples. UB coup also developed close ties with the United States in the United States was providing Guatemala with armaments and with favorable tariff terms. This whole situation though was not unique at all to Guatemala other nations and Central America had various similarly, unyielding dictators and control with similar social and economic effects. Similar reliance on one food crop for. Most of the economy similar connections to the United States and United States based business interests and one dictator. Maximiliano as Martinez was overthrown in neighboring El Salvador in nineteen forty four. This overthrow became an inspiration for a similar campaign against you. Biko Ingui Tamala not just inspiring the students and other young people to rise up, but also inspiring in Ugo a fear that the same thing might happen to him. So he cracked down on civil liberties. He put people who were loyal to him in charge of the university. He basically tried to do what he could to ensure his own power. This had the opposite effect of what he wanted a series of protests followed with students at Saint Carlos university petitioning for changes to the university teaching staff and other reforms. Lawyers were petitioning for biased judges to be removed from the bench. Teachers were demonstrating for pay increases and. All these initial demonstrations were non violent. They included things like boycotts and strikes. The Guatemalan government responded to all this by deploying tanks and troops and using tear gas on the demonstrators placing the capital under martial law. But the demonstrations spread even as the government was placing participants under surveillance and deporting foreign supporters of the movement. Finally, at the end of June, tens of thousands of demonstrators were gathered at the capitol and Biko's support was really eroding. He resigned on July first nineteen forty, four place to the government under the control of military triumvirate. Although he allegedly remained in charge. The national assembly elected one of the triumvirate general Frederico Ponte Vitus president. He promised to their free election was going to follow, but by October, it was obvious that it just was not going to happen and Wata Malla was sliding farther and farther away from democracy. The protests continued students and teachers called for a general strike. On October sixteenth students and members of the military began taking control of the capital on October eighteenth, and there was an attack on the national palace by members of the military. As I said, at the top of the show on October nineteenth, violence spread through the capital the presidential guard rebelled and the general finally surrendered on the twentieth this didn't put a total into the violence or the rest. But new elections did follow in December and they were one of the freest elections that Guatemala had seen in decades. A new constitution was drafted in nineteen forty five. This constitutional rule lasted for just less than a decade before president Cobo Arbenz was elected in nineteen fifty one, and he had been part of the revolution. He instituted a lot of land reforms including redistributed. A lot of that unused land that United fruit company had been buying up the United States in the like that the United States was. Also threatened by the fact that he legalized the communist party in Guatemala. So so the CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected government of quantum Allah and nineteen fifty four. Thanks to Jeffcoat for her research work on today's podcast and tar Harrison for audio work on this show. You can subscribe to this day in history class at apple podcast, Google podcast, and wherever you get your podcast contune in tomorrow for a political purge. Over three hundred twenty five years ago, the community of Salem, Massachusetts was rocked by something few ever thought possible. It's been called an outbreak a wave of hysteria or the perfect storm at the confluence of seemingly unrelated ideas, events, and beliefs, whatever we try to call it though we always seem to miss the Mark. What bothers me so much so many people say how ignorant people were back. Then that's historian Emerson, Baker professor of American history at Salem state university. How could they possibly believe in witches and that they were? Well, I remember in sixteen ninety two which were real. Everybody believed in university ministers, doctors of theology, governors pope's, which are real. The Salem, witch trials are equal parts universally known and barely understood by most people. That's why this series exists new episode. Of this twelve part series air every Wednesday, learn more and find links to subscribe over at history on obscured dot com.