note:The title above is the same title of the Time Magazine article below. This article talks about Arbenz's cruelty, which was forgotten thanks to the prevailing Communist propaganda on Latin America, which portrays Arbenz as an innocent democrat who was a victim of the US and the US corporation the United Fruit Company.
By Time Magazine July 12, 1954
"Communist perfume," Guatemalans called it: they meant the stench of decaying human flesh. Searchers tracing that noisome odor last week found in three shallow mass graves the bodies of 47 men who had opposed the Red government of President Jacobo Arbenz in its last days. In a basement torture chamber on the capital's Seventh Avenue, bits of hair, plastered to the wall with dried blood, told of victims hurled around the room and battered against the walls by sadistic guards. Out of the jails stumbled 711 lesser oppositionists, some from cells built for five men but crammed with 60. Fifteen men numbly took off their clothing so that U.S. reporters could see the festering cuts and throbbing bruises that covered them from neck to thigh.
In its last desperate bid for survival, the Arbenz government had resorted to savage repressions carried out by its boss policemen, Colonel Rogelio Cruz Wer and Colonel Jaime Rosenberg. The frenzy grew as the downfall neared. Survivors testified that on the last day, Cruz Wer, close to a gibbering collapse, planted himself in front of a cell crowded with political prisoners and screamed, "I am a condemned man, but I will take some of you bastards with me!" He fired a burst from a machine pistol into the cell, and four men fell dead. After Arbenz quit, Cruz Wer and Rosenberg escaped in a small plane to Mexico, where they blandly demanded sanctuary as political refugees.
A Rotten Regime. "No recognized government in Latin America has ever matched this inhuman cruelty," a Latin diplomat in Guatemala exclaimed as the grisly evidence piled up. But the stories helped explain Arbenz' sudden downfall: his government was too rotten to fight for, and the army had refused to fight for the Communist cause it despised.
That the Arbenz regime was too hollow to fight was hardly suspected before it was put to a test — the kind of test that other Communist governments never got.
Six months ago, Castillo Armas was an unimportant exile in Honduras, plotting in impoverished frustration against Arbenz' powerful regime, and generally given no chance. The impression now almost universally held in Guatemala is that the U.S. at that point moved cautiously in to guide affairs. There is still no direct evidence of this. But hindsight reasoning indicates that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency correctly appraised Arbenz' fundamental unpopularity and brutality, his army's unwillingness to stand up for him or for his Communist advisers, and Castillo Armas' capabilities.
Circumstantial support for this theory comes from the known facts. Honduras openly granted bases to Castillo Armas, an act the U.S. could have stopped with a frown. Castillo Armas got money; the revolution must have cost well over $1,000,000 — perhaps as much as $5,000,000. He got airplanes: four F47 fighters and two C-47 cargo planes. He also got expert pilots to fly them.
Latin Americans generally assumed that the U.S. was in Castillo Armas' corner and after he invaded Guatemala, a dank breeze of Communist-abetted anti-Yankeeism swept through some of the hemisphere's countries. Students squawked in demonstrations in Panama, Uruguay, Chile Peru, Cuba, Argentina and Honduras: a U.S. flag was burned in Chile. But there was none of that in Guatemala, where the U.S. role was understood and deeply appreciated. As the overthrown regime's victims were dug out of their graves and the luckier survivors emerged from their cells Guatemalans raised grateful cheers for the U.S. and for Ambassador Peurifoy.
Off to Asylum. The Arbenz crowd meanwhile, had scuttled to asylum. Many of them found the Mexican embassy, right across the street, the handiest. There went most of the Guatemalan Congress. There went the major Communists: Presidential Adviser Jose Manuel Fortuny, Labor Leader Victor Manuel Gutierrez, Peasant Boss Leonardo Castillo Flores, Editor Alfredo Guerra Borges. There went ex-Foreign Minister Guillermo Toriello.
And there, too, went Jacobo Arbenz—after first forcing the Government Development Bank to extend a second mortgage on his cotton farm for $200,000 payable to his wife. He is also accused of having taken funds from the Treasury. Other government fat cats, who had done their looting earlier, were in the Salvadoran embassy; their six 1954 Cadillacs crowded the ambassadorial courtyard.
Political refugees, by convention, are supposed to get safe-conducts out of the country. But the mob of holed-up Arbenzistas may have difficulties. Opinion has swung violently against the Red regime.
Mobs plundered Arbenz' luxurious house (finding, among more valuable spoils, stacks of Communist propaganda and four bags of earth, one each from Russia, China, Siberia and Mongolia). More ominously, a Communist judge who last year sent four alleged plotters to death without trial was himself executed by a firing squad. That showed that the new junta means business with any Communist criminals it can get its hands on.