Covert Action

3067 words 13 pages
Covert Action
A Necessary Evil?

The term “Covert Action” brings with it a connotation of shadowy figures wrapped in secrecy and intrigue. It also brings with it a substantial amount of moral questions as to “what is right.” The use of covert action has been widely publicized since the early seventies, but trying to find out the truth to these events has been difficult to say the least. What is even more difficult, is historically recording these events into categories of successes or failures. These operations are difficult to dissect because of their secrecy and although events have been recorded, some facts simply aren’t apparent. This paper will seek to identify the complex issues associated with covert operations. United
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Guatemala Coup d’état 1954
As the events were winding down in Iran, a similar situation was brewing in Guatemala. Instead of oil though, the prize was agriculture…400,000 acres to be exact.(10) The antagonist behind this event was an American firm known as United Fruit. United Fruit had a successful business and was the largest land owner in Guatemala. In 1950, President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was elected. The pulse at the time in Guatemala was social democracy. Arbenz was popular and many supported his efforts to reform agriculture and the economy.(11) Beginning in 1953, Arbenz reallocated almost 400,000 acres (from United Fruit) and distributed them out to peasants. The Guatemalan government did offer concessions to United Fruit in the form of bonds but that simply wasn’t acceptable.(12) United Fruit went home to the U.S. Government for assistance. Through legal contacts and lobbyists, the CIA became aware of United Fruit’s problem.

Guatemala: The Plan
The CIA had been previously working to overthrow the Guatemalan government due to the threat of Communism. Guatemala’s tolerance had made it a refuge for communists and leftists from Latin American and the Caribbean. Authorized by President Eisenhower in August 1953, Operation PBSUCCESS carried an initial $2.7 million budget.(13) These funds were allocated for psychological warfare, political action, and subversion. Also on the table at this point in time


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