Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954,
Office of the Historian Bureau of Public Affairs United
States Department of State
May 15, 2003
The operation to overthrow Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán in 1954, a decisive event in U.S. relations
with Latin America early in the cold war, is the topic of a retrospective volume
of the Department of State's official documentary history, Foreign Relations of the United States, released on May 15, 2003. As
part of a sub-series of the Foreign Relations series that
documents the foreign policy of Dwight D.
Eisenhower's administration, this retrospective volume
supplements the 1983 publication of Foreign Relations of the
United States, 1952-1954, Volume IV, American Republics. The 1983
volume—which covered multilateral and bilateral relations with 20 American
republics—provided an incomplete history of U.S. relations with Guatemala by not
documenting the U.S. Government-approved role of the Central Intelligence Agency
in the ouster of Arbenz.
Partly in response to this omission, Congress passed legislation in 1991, which
the President signed, mandating that the Foreign
Relations series “shall be a thorough, accurate, and reliable
documentary record of major United States foreign policy decisions and
significant United States diplomatic activity” and requiring U.S. Government
departments and agencies to provide Department of State historians with “full
and complete access to the records pertinent to United States foreign policy
decisions and actions.”
In the early 1990s, Directors of Central Intelligence officially acknowledged 11
covert actions during the early cold war years, including the one in Guatemala.
At the same time, Department of State historians gained fuller access to the
CIA's files on Guatemala. The new volume is
a product of this improved access. The Central Intelligence Agency has reviewed
the volume for declassification, in coordination with its review of a larger
collection of documents on the Guatemalan operation that it is releasing to the
public at the National Archives.
This new volume, a selection of the most significant documents, fills in many
details about the role of the United States in Guatemala in the early 1950s and
provides an accurate account of U.S. policy toward Guatemala. The operation in
Guatemala is an important instance of the use of covert action to implement U.S.
foreign policy, and this volume provides a detailed account of that action. The
new volume does not reprint documents from the 1983 Foreign
Relations publication, although footnotes and editorial notes refer
back to significant documents in that earlier volume.
The retrospective volume on Guatemala, 1952-1954, relies primarily on
documentation of the Directorate of Operations (DO) at the Central Intelligence
Agency. Most of the DO documentation includes extensive records for PBFORTUNE, a 1951 contingency plan for
ousting Arbenz; PBSUCCESS, the plan that was actually implemented; and PBHISTORY, the project to collect and analyze
documents of the Arbenz government. The volume includes correspondence,
memoranda, and cable traffic among CIA
Headquarters, PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida, and CIA Stations including Guatemala, and between the Department of
State and the Embassy in Guatemala. Also included are documents from the
John Foster Dulles Papers at the
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential
Library that were not printed in the 1983 compilation.
To facilitate research, both the new volume and the 1983 compilation are
available on the Office of the Historian website. Copies of the new volume can
be purchased from the Government Printing Office. For further information,
contact Edward C. Keefer, General Editor of the Foreign
Relations series, at (202) 663-1131; fax: (202) 663-1289; e-mail: