Author

Sean Thearle

Defense Date

3-27-2012

Graduation Date

2012

Availability

Immediate Access

Submission Type

thesis

Degree Name

MA

Department

History

School

McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

John J. Dwyer

Committee Member

Joseph Rishel

Committee Member

Holly A. Mayer

Keywords

CIA, Jacobo Arbenz, PBSUCCESS, Propaganda, SHERWOOD

Abstract

In 1954, the United States rescinded its Good Neighbor Policy toward Latin America when it conducted a covert operation, known as PBSUCCESS, in Guatemala that forced the resignation of democratically-elected President Jacobo Arbenz. Since then, scholars have written a wide array of books and articles pertaining to the subject. While most authors have focused attention on who was to blame for the coup, this research project takes a new approach by examining the roles of religion and entertainment in facilitating Arbenz's overthrow. Instead of investigating causes or motives of U.S. intervention, this project seeks to answer questions about the operation itself. It focuses on the role of culture in covert operations and combines political, economic, technological, religious, and cultural history to set scholarship on this event in a new direction.

From April-June 1954, the CIA employed psychological intelligence and propaganda to quickly destabilize Guatemalan politics. The CIA intelligence gathered before the psychological warfare campaign was used two ways: first by Catholic priests in Sunday homilies and second by a clandestine radio station (codenamed SHERWOOD). Together these forms of propaganda helped sway an ambivalent public (sixty percent of the Guatemalan population was indifferent toward its leader less than a month before the launch of the radio station) to support an "invasion" by a band of approximately 1,500 Guatemalan exiles led by Castillo Armas against the sitting government.

Format

PDF

Language

English

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