GUATEMALA COUP CIA FILES
1,926 pages of CIA documents covering the Agency's involvement in the 1954 coup in Guatemala to overthrow President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. Guzman was seen as a serious Communist threat after confiscating two-thirds of United Fruit Co.'s 332,000 acres and legalized the Communist Party. These records encompass the events and circumstances causing U.S. policymakers to plan the overthrow of the Guatemalan Government in June 1954 as Cold War tensions mounted between the two superpowers; CIA plans for and execution of the covert action; the outcome; and CIA historical analysis of CIA's performance and impact of the coup. The collection includes reviews of the event by CIA historians, administrative memos regarding operational plans and internal approvals; operational cable traffic; and summaries of the Sherwood tapes used for propaganda purposes.
The files show that "hit lists" were compiled and the CIA began training Central American assassins to kill political and military Communist leaders. According to CIA review the assassination plans were never carried out and never formally approved by top State Department and CIA officials or the White House. President Guzman resigned on June 27, 1954, two weeks after U.S. supported rebels invaded Guatemala and. The files show that rebel leader Castillo Armas, who took the place of Arbenz, gave the CIA a list of 58 people to be assassinated.
In 1953, the CIA drew up plans for "K" groups, or assassin teams, to work with sabotage groups. According to a January 11, 1954 cable the CIA sent 20 silencers for .22-caliber rifles to rebels training in Honduras. In March 1954, the CIA drew up criteria for assassination targets. Files include information about "Nerve War" which included sending wooden coffins, hangman's nooses and phony bombs to targets. "Here Lives a Spy" and "You have only 5 Days" were painted on their houses.
The files include an instructional guide on assassination titled, "A Study of Assassination." The document offers descriptions of the procedures and assassination hints such as, "The simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination... A hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice." "...Puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached... Absolute reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical region."