Decree 900 Guatemala Case Study

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At the time, Guatemala was a “banana republic”, meaning its unstable economy was dependent on a few export crops largely arbitrated by United States’ corporations. Due to this, American corporations had control over much of Guatemala’s economy and land. Most of Guatemala’s cultivatable land rested in the hands of a tiny percentage of the population with little of it ever actually being put to use. President Arbenz sought to change that by creating Decree 900. It was the most radical land agrarian reform bill since it confiscated unused lands from large plantations and redistribute to Guatemalans. From a nationalist perspective, it made sense to reduce foreign control in Guatemala and give Guatemalans the resources necessary to prosper. Yet Decree 900 angered American corporations because they were faced…show more content…
U.S. Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles had previously been a partner in a law firm that drafted a 1936 contract giving United Fruit Company control of the International Railways of Central America for the next 99 years. Moreover, Dulles’ brother, Allen was the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, who had also done legal work with United Fruit Company and sat on the board of directors. United Fruit Company was the largest landowner in Guatemala who monopolized banana production and when Decree 900 was put into effect, the corporation lobbied the State Department in an attempt to gain more compensation from their expropriated lands. Because of these personal alliances between U.S. officials and United Fruit Company, it posed as possible conflicts of interests for President Eisenhower’s cabinet members. Furthermore, the State Department put in a legal claim against the Arbenz administration in 1954 demanding an extra $15 million in compensation for the expropriated land. President Arbenz refused and thus, exacerbating tensions between Guatemala and the United

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