Decree 900 (Spanish: Decreto 900), also called the Agrarian Reform Law, was a Guatemalan land reform law passed on June 17, 1952. The law was introduced by President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán and passed by the Guatemalan Congress. It redistributed unused lands of sizes greater than 224 acres (0.902 km²) to local peasants, compensating landowners with government bonds. Land from at most 1,700 estates was redistributed to about 100,000 families—one sixth of the country's population. The goal of the legislation was to move Guatemala's economy from feudalism into capitalism. Although in force for only eighteen months, the law had a major effect on the Guatemalan land reform movement.
Indigenous groups, deprived of land since the Spanish conquest, were major beneficiaries of the decree. In addition to raising agricultural output by increasing the cultivation of land, the reform is credited with helping many Guatemalans find dignity and autonomy. Decree 900 did create some conflicts in practice, but these were not major, and the law is described as one of the most potentially successful land reforms in history. However, redistribution angered major landowners—including the United Fruit Company—and the United States, which construed Guatemala's land reform as a communist threat. Decree 900 was thus a direct impetus for the 1954 coup d'état which deposed Árbenz and instigated decades of Civil War.
- 1 Background
- 2 Legislation
- 3 Effects on Guatemala
- 4 International response and 1954 coup
- 5 References
- 6 External links
When Árbenz was elected in 1951, Guatemala had a high GDP but extremely unequal distribution of land: 2% of the population controlled 72% of the arable land. Only 12% of this land was under cultivation. Much of the population without land was poor, and had associated health problems. Indigenous people had been treated as subordinate for hundreds of years, and had become increasingly impoverished and dependent on wages from plantation work. Indigenous people were also required to serve as migrant laborers through legal coercion, as Guatemala's coffee industry expanded rapidly from the 1870s through the 1930s.
After Juan Jose Arévalo won the 1944 election, Guatemala created a reformist constitution in 1945. This constitution explicitly stated that the government should protect communal land and create policies that would lead to equitable distribution of wealth. Article 88 of the 1945 Guatemalan Constitution, which served as the legal basis for Decree 900, stipulates: "It is a primary function of the State to develop agricultural activities and industry in general, toward the end that the fruits of labor shall preferentially benefit those who produce them and that the wealth shall reach the greatest number of inhabitants of the Republic." Article 90 recognizes the existence of private property, but suggests that rights to property could be waived in the social interest. This constitution marked the beginning of the Ten Years of Spring, also known as the Guatemalan Revolution: a period of democratization and liberal reforms.
Árbenz sought to transform Guatemala from a feudalist to a capitalist economy by distributing capital and creating infrastructure to increase production. The wish to transform Guatemala into a competitive capitalist nation led Árbenz to push for the construction of a national highway, a new port, a hydroelectric power plant—and for increased cultivation of unused lands.
Árbenz began promoting agrarian reform soon after becoming President. He was aided politically by a renewed Communist Party of Guatemala (PGT), which believed that some amount of capitalist development necessarily preceded a communist revolution. Árbenz accepted help from the PGT and its leaders were among his personal friends; however, he rejected some of their proposals, including a mandate for the organization of producer cooperatives.
The proposed law gained widespread support among peoples' organizations and in the national press, but was opposed by the Asociación General de Agricultores (AGA), which represented the existing landowners.
Presented with a draft by the President, the Guatemalan Congress met on Saturdays and Sundays for five weeks. Congress introduced some changes to Árbenz's version, most notably restoring the idea of cooperatives (although not to the degree proposed by the PGT). Decree 900—Decreto Número 900 El Congreso De La República De Guatemala—was passed on 17 June 1952 at 1:45 AM and signed into law by Árbenz on the same day. It called for 603,704 hectares of farmland to be redistributed to 100,00 families. Specifically, it authorized the redistribution of all uncultivated land on estates larger than 672 acres, and of land on estates sized from 224–672 acres, on which less than two-thirds of the land was cultivated. It also specified total redistribution of the government owned fincas nacionales, which contributed a quarter of the nation's coffee production.
Article 1 of the law reads:
The Agrarian Reform of the October Revolution intends to eliminate the feudal property structure in the countryside and develop relations of production that originate to develop the land to the form of operational and capitalist methods of production in agriculture and to prepare the way for the industrialization of Guatemala.
Proponents of the law stated that it was intended to “eliminate all feudal type property...especially work-servitude and the remnant of slavery.” Decree 900 specifically abolished slavery, unpaid labor, work as payment of rent, and relocation of indigenous workers.
The law did not redistribute land automatically. It created a National Agrarian Department (DAN), and required people without land to file requests with Local Agrarian Committees (CALs). CALs would then make decisions about how to reappropriate the land of major owners. Landowners could dispute these decisions, with an appeals process going all the way up to the President. The committees were formed from local groups, and intended to foster the spirit of community control and local political power. As suggested by the PGT, the law also gave new landowners the option of choosing lifetime tenure instead of private ownership, with the goal of preventing large landowners from simply buying back the land. The Fincas Nationales were available only through the lifetime tenure option. According to José Manuel Fortuny, a PGT leader who helped draft the legislation:
We [the PGT] proposed the creation of peasant committees [CALs] in order to lay the groundwork for the eventual radicalization of the peasantry. We talked to Arbenz about this, and he agreed with us. What we wanted was to foster the control of the reform from below. This would give the peasants a strong sense of their common needs. And if, from the system of lifetime tenure, cooperatives developed, the seeds of a more collective society would have been sown.
Finally, the law established a system for using bonds to compensate people who lost acres to peasants. The property owners were paid in bonds which matured in 25 years; value of the land was based on claims made on the previous year's tax returns.
Land, literacy, and credit
Credit for those receiving land was mandated by additional legislation in 1953, which also established a National Agrarian Bank (BNA). The government dispensed $3,371,185 in loans during 1953; $3,049,092 had been paid back by July 1954—a historically unusual success in lending.
Beginning in 1954, land and credit were supplemented by literacy programs—the third major plank of the reform program.
Effects on Guatemala
Land and farming
By 1954, 1.4 million acres had been reappropriated. 100,000 families (about 500,000 people, one sixth of the population) had received land as well as bank credit and technical aid. The law affected about 1,700 estates of the country's richest and most conservative people and groups
Production of corn, coffee, and bananas increased while the law was in effect in 1953 and 1954. High coffee prices bolstered the national economy and offset the flight of foreign capital. According to a report by the U.S. Embassy in 1954, "A preliminary analysis of the President's report left little doubt, as long as coffee prices are at their present high level, that the Guatemalan economy was basically prosperous."
Decree 900 led to the expropriation of 1700 acres of Árbenz's own land and 1,200 acres belonging to foreign minister Guillermo Toriello. Minister of Agriculture Nicolás Brol also had some of his land redistributed.
Conflicts over implementation
Various sources (including Árbenz and the government) reported conflicts over implementing the law. Decree 900 triggered domestic opposition from landowners and some elements within the military. The reforms were also opposed by the Catholic Church and the business class.
Landowners complained of unfair practices, but so did others who felt excluded or as though they were getting a bad deal. Some peasants seized land without going through the legal channels, believing that the law provided them with a mandate. Sometimes the expropriators fought each other over who would get a certain piece of land. Other violent incidents among peasants were self-defense or retaliation against landowners who sought to disobey the law or intimidate them. In some places, peasants organized groups for self-defense and requested (usually without success) arms permits from the government. According to Neale Pearson, there were instances where "peasants illegally occupied lands and a few in which they burned pastures or crops in order to have land declared uncultivated and subject to expropriation. But these cases were isolated and limited to number".
Sometimes legal councils had difficulty measuring land, or determining how much land on an estate was really unused.
Union representatives began to travel through the countryside, informing people of the new law. Landowners closed private roads going through their property in order to prevent peasants from becoming informed of the changes. The government announced that all road would become public. Some local police forces (and other government officials) initially sanctioned some landowner retaliation. These groups, too, responded to government pressure to implement the reforms.
Changes in political power
By 1954, more than 3000 CALs had been formed. These organizations, which controlled the distribution of land at a local level, represented a substantial increase in political power for ordinary people and people's organizations such as unions. However, the law also increased the power of the President and of the new national council, the DAN.
In 1953, the Supreme Court ruled that the lack of judicial oversight for the reform was unconstitutional, and it blocked any further implementation. Congress, with Árbenz's urging, voted to impeach four judges. This decision provoked anti-government demonstrations, in the course of which one person was killed.
Historian Douglas Trefzger has reported that the land reform disproportionately affected Ladinos, relative to Indians, although both groups benefited. It seems that although the short-lived policies of Decree 900 had a positive effect on indigenous Guatemalans—particularly on their political consciousness—poverty and associated problems persisted.
The CNCG peasant league, founded in 1950 by activists and members of the teachers' union, grew rapidly during this time and by 1945 was the largest peoples' organization in the country. The second largest was the CGTG, a rural labor union.
Efforts were made to win military support for Decree 900. These included the provision of incentives for peasants to join the army, as well as attempts to foster ties between the armed forces and the DAN. Some conflicts did emerge around the country as military leaders and peasant organizers competed for local power. These were ameliorated by new appointments to military positions. But these changes in military structure further upset some officers and contributed to the desertions and defections that allowed the coup to succeed.
International response and 1954 coup
Expropriation of United Fruit
In 1953 Árbenz announced that under the Agrarian Reform Law—specifically, because of an order made by the DAN—Guatemala was expropriating approximately 234,000 acres (947 km²) of uncultivated land from the United Fruit Company. United Fruit owned 550,000 acres (2,200 km2) in Guatemala, 42% of the nation’s (arable) land. The company was compensated with $627,572 in bonds for the expropriation of their holdings, the amount United Fruit had claimed the land was worth for tax purposes. However, United Fruit proceeded to claim that its land was worth more. It had close ties to U.S. officials and lobbied the for U.S. for intervention. The US State Department, on behalf of the United Fruit Company, claimed to Guatemala that the land was worth $15,854,849.
United States opposition
A report written by the U.S. State Department's Office of Intelligence Research suggested that the reform itself would only affect 1,710 landowners, but expressed fear that the law would strengthen the position of communists in Guatemala. U.S. opposition to the Árbenz government certainly resulted from his reformist policies, but historians differ on the relative importance of expropriating United Fruit versus the apparent communist threat implied by land reform.
Because of the Agrarian Reform Law, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company in August 1952 announced that it would no longer purchase Guatemalan chicle. Since Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company had been the sole buyer of the product, the Árbenz government suddenly had to provide a massive aid program for chicle harvesters.
After aborting a coup attempt called Operation PBFORTUNE, the United States—through its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—renewed efforts to unseat Árbenz with Operation PBSUCCESS (1953–1954). It sought to develop relationships with members of Guatemalan military, and instituted an arms blockade that caused the military to fear a security crisis or even US invasion. The key agent for a possible coup was the exiled colonel Castillo Armas. The CIA also intensified propaganda campaigns to isolate Guatemala among Central American nations, and to convince the Guatemalan people that the Árbenz regime was on the brink of collapse.
In June 1954, Árbenz Guzmán was overthrown by a multi-faceted coup operation involving a small army led by Castillo Armas, scattered right-wing violence in the countryside, a U.S. Navy blockade (called Operation HARDROCK BAKER), bombardment by CIA planes, and a sophisticated CIA strategy of psychological warfare intended to demoralize Árbenz and provoke military defections. Thus, although Armas's ground invasion was quickly defeated, Árbenz resigned his post and Armas won control from the vacuum of power.
Repeal of Decree 900
Armas became President on 8 July. He quickly repealed Decree 900 and reversed 95% of the redistribution that had occurred. (All of the land formerly owned by United Fruit was restored.) Government documents pertaining to Decree 900 were also destroyed. Armas created a new Agrarian Commission and passed two new laws, which restored control over land policy to government officials. Some land changed hands as a result of these laws, but the scope of reform was substantially reduced. Armas also abolished government support for labor unions and denounced their members as communists.
A long period of civil war followed, with indigenous and poor Guatemalans pitted against landowners and the military. Peace accords reached in 1996 repudiate Armas's policy, and those that followed, calling for a return to the idea of land as a social good.
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), pp. 1, 20.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 470. "What an anthropologist wrote of Guatemala in the early 1930s still held true in the fifties: 'The land is for the Indian the symbol of his right to live, the connecting link between the material life with the divine existence.' For the first time since the Spanish conquest, the government returned land to the Indians. For the first time, also, the rural workers and small peasants participated in trade union activities, even though their role was confined to the local level."
- Gordon, "Case History of U. S. Subversion" (1971), p. 138. "The most striking feature of the Arévalo-Arbenz period was the organization and activity of the working class and peasantry, resulting in the development of new and powerful political groups—political parties, peasants' associations, agrarian committees for land allotment, labor unions, women's organizations."
- Douglas W. Trefzger, "Guatemala's 1952 Agrarian Reform Law: A Critical Reassessment", International Social Science Review, 22 March 2002.
- Hannah Wittman with Laura Saldivar-Tanaka, "The Agrarian Question in Guatemala"; in Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform, ed. Peter Rosset, Rajeev Charles Patel, Michael Courville, New York: Food First Books (2006).
- Shelton H. Davis, "The Mayan Movement and National Culture in Guatemala"; in Culture and Public Action, ed. Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton, Stanford University Press (2004).
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), pp. 8–9. "The 1879 Constitution excluded the indigenous population, the primary workforce in Guatemala, from citizenship (Reeves 159). Spanish and mestizo rights to land were restricted through the nationalization of land for the increased emphasis on coffee production."
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 9.
- Theo R. G. Van Banning, The Human Right to Property, Intersentia (2001), p. 141.
- McCleary, Dictating Democracy (1999), p. 10.
- Marcelo Bucheli and Ian Read, "Jacobo Arbenz (1913–1971)", United Fruit Historical Society, 2001-2006; accessed 19 November 2012.
- David McCreery, "'An Odious Feudalism' : Mandamiento Labor and Commercial Agriculture in Guatemala, 1858-1920", Latin American Perspectives 13; accessed via Sage, DOI: 10.1177/0094582X8601300105. "The shift of the North Atlantic economy in the nineteenth century from a predominance of mercantile to industrial capitalism, far from undermining the productive system or inducing and diffusing with in Guatemala modern capitalist relations, had the effect of strengthening precapitalist forms of exploitation and extending these to previously unaffected areas of the country."
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) pp. 683–684.
- Gordon, "Case History of U. S. Subversion" (1971), p. 137. "Arbenz was determined to transform Guatemala into a modern capitalist state, to free it economically from dependence on world coffee prices and to wrest control of the economy from the US corporations dominating it. He launched four major projects to these ends: a highway to the Atlantic Coast to undercut the transport monopoly of the International Railways of Central America; an Atlantic port to compete with the one controlled by the Railway and the United Fruit Company; a national hydroelectric plant to lessen dpendence on the Electric Bond and Share subsidiary; and an agrarian reform program which would greatly increase land and labor utilization and hence expand agricultural production, particularly of domestically-consumed foodstuffs."
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) p. 682. "There were substantial differences, however, between Gutiérrez's suggestion and the law proposed by Arbenz, which came only after two weeks of discussion among his full cabinet, in which many moderates as well as radical activists were represented. Most important of the differences was that Gutiérrez's proposal had favored the organization of full producer cooperatives on the expropriated land. Arbenz's draft did not even mention the formation of cooperatives, while the law passed by congress allowed for, but did not stress, cooperatives."
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), pp. 455–458.
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) p. 682. "During the month that the proposed law was debated in congress, agrarian reform dominated the national dialogue. The revolutionary organizations, political parties, unions, and CNCG gave it their full support. Even the cautious and extremely influential newspaper El Imparcial gave agrarian reform limited support. The landowners' association attacked it vehemently, however."
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 13.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), pp. 459–460.
- Translated by Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 28.
- LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions (1993), p. 118; citing Blanche Wiesen Cook, The Declassified Eisenhower (Garden City, N.Y., 1981), page 224; Neale J. Pearson, "Guatemala: The Peasant Union Movement, 1944-1954," in Latin American Peasant Movements ed. Henry A. Landsberger (Ithaca, 1969), p. 224.
- Translated by Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 29.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), pp. 460–461. "Moreover, through the Departmental Agrarian Committees and the Local Agrarian Committees, Decree 900 sought to stimulate the participation of the peasants and the labour organizations, rather than to impose the reform from the top alone.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 461.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 460.
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 18.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), pp. 466–467. "In view of Guatemala's history, and of the severe economic and technical constraints faced by the government, the amount of credit provided by the CHN and the BNA in one year is remarkable. A 1965 report of the Organization of American States—not a radical group—concluded, 'The success of the agrarian credit policy was no less impressive than that of the land redistribution policy'."
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), pp. 470–471. "Literacy, land, and credit were, they stressed, intimately connected: the peasants needed to read and write in order to "present their demands [for land], transact their business with the agrarian authorities, and deal with other problems such as writing to the Agrarian Committees, asking for credit from the Agrarian Bank, buying and selling their crops, etc."
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), pp. 465–466.
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 17.
- Karabell, Zachary. Architects of intervention: the United States, the Third World, and the Cold War. p. 105.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), pp. 468–469. "Contrary to the hopes of the government's detractors, Decree 900 did not result in the collapse of agricultural output. Rather, notes an Amiercan scholar, the existing data, 'seem to indicate that agrarian reform...unleashed new productive energies from which both the peasants and those finqueros whose previously idle land was put to use."
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), pp. 19–20.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), pp. 476–477.
- Al Argueta, Living Abroad in Guatemala (Moon), Avalon Travel (2009), p.41. ISBN 9781598802078. "Arbenz himself was not immune from land expropriation, giving up 1,700 acres of his own land in the process."
- Gordon, "Case History of U. S. Subversion" (1971), p. 138. "Among the lands expropriated were 1700 acres owned by President Arbenz and 1200 acres owned by Foreign Minister Guillermo Toriello."
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) p. 688.
- Bowen, "U.S. Foreign Policy toward Radical Change" (1993), p. 91. "Domestic resistance to the Arbenz regime became more violent after Decree 900 became law, with incidents of antigovernment violence tripling between the first and third quarters of 1952. While nearly all violent antigovernment incidents (bombings, assassinations, etc.) before the reform occurred in the capital, two-thirds of the incidents after the reform were outside the capital.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 464.
- Handy, Revolution in the Countryside (1994), p. 146–147.
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) p. 694.
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) p. 693.
- Pearson, "Confederación Nacional Campesina, p.180; quoted in Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 464.
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) p. 691.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 462.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 473.
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 15.
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) p. 686.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 464–465.
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) pp. 694–695.
- Handy, "The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution" (1988) p. 701–704. "The increasing strength of the peasant league and workers' federation in rural areas, coupled with the disarray apparent in the military's rural apparatus, raised grave fears among many officers over their ability to control these organizations. The support they received from the president and the apparent impunity with which local affiliates of these organizations broke the law, invaded property not affected by Decree 900, and provoked escalating unrest in the army's traditional domain prompted much bitterness."
- Bowen, "U.S. Foreign Policy toward Radical Change" (1993), p. 90. "It seems that ultimately UFCO was the largest loser of land, but the extent of their losses is in dispute." [Estimates range from 178,000–653,000 acres.] "Whatever the actual amount, no one disputes that these lands were returned to UFCO by Castillo."
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 474.
- LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions (1993), p. 120; citing Graham H. Stuart, and James L. Tigner, Latin America and the United States, 6th ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1975), pp. 519-520; Blanche Wiesen Cook, The Declassified Eisenhower (Garden City, N.Y., 1981), pp. 221-225.
- LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions (1993), p. 76.
- Gleijeses, The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz" (1989), p. 461–462.
- Stephen M. Streeter, "Interpreting the 1954 U.S. Intervention in Guatemala: Realist, Revisionist, and Postrevisionist Perspectives", The History Teacher 34(1), November 2000; accessed via JStor.
- LaFeber, Inevitable Revolutions (1993), p. 119; citing Donald Dozer, Are We Good Neighbors? Inter-American Relations 1930–1960, Gainesville FL, 1959, p. 264.
- Bowen, "U.S. Foreign Policy toward Radical Change" (1993), p. 93.
- Bowen, "U.S. Foreign Policy toward Radical Change" (1993), pp. 92–94. "At the same time, the United States sold new weapons to Guatemala's neighbors, promising future weapons purchases to the Guatemalan high command should Arbenz be removed from office. Already partners with the United States in a regionwide, mutual defense treaty(the Rio Treaty), Nicaragua and Honduras each signed supplementary military assistance pacts on a bilateral basis with the United States."
- Bowen, "U.S. Foreign Policy toward Radical Change" (1993), p. 94. "In May and June 1954, CIA radio transmitters broadcast pro-Castillo Armas propaganda designed to neutralize the army. Nonexistent civilian uprisings, military defections and bogus incidents of sabotage were reported over CIA-manned Radio Liberation located outside Guatemala. When official Guatemalan radio stations attempted to counteract these erroneous rumors, Radio Liberation copied the identifying music and bells of the government station, enabling it to impose its own broadcast as the official government program, while jamming equipment in the U.S. embassy was blocking reception of the official station."
- Nick Cullather, Secret History, Second Edition: The CIA’s Classified Account of Its Operations in Guatemala, 1952-1954, Stanford University Press, 2006; particularly Appendix A ("PBSUCCESS Timeline")
- Gordon, "Case History of U. S. Subversion" (1971), p. 146–147. "Apparently unnverved by his isolation from the army and unwilling to face a large-scale civil war, he capitulated. Communists made vain, intensive efforts to persuade him to organize civilian resistance, but with his resignation they and other leading government backers became demoralized and fled to foreign embassies."
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 19.
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), pp. 20–21.
- Harbour, Creating a New Guatemala (2008), p. 25–26.
- Bowen, Gordon L. "U.S. Foreign Policy toward Radical Change: Covert Operations in Guatemala, 1950-1954". Latin American Perspectives 10(88), 1993. Accessed via SagePub, DOI: 10.1177/0094582X8301000106.
- Gleijeses, Piero. "The Agrarian Reform of Jacobo Arbenz". Journal of Latin American Studies 21(3), October 1989. Accessed via JStor.
- Gordon, Max. "A Case History of U. S. Subversion: Guatemala, 1954". Science and Society 35(2), Summer 1971. Accessed via JStor.
- Handy, Jim. "'The Most Precious Fruit of the Revolution': The Guatemalan Agrarian Reform, 1952-54". The Hispanic-American Historical Review 68(4), November 1988. Accessed via JStor.
- Handy, Jim. Revolution in the Countryside: Rural Conflict & Agrarian Reform in Guatemala, 1944–1954. University of North Carolina (1994). ISBN 9780807844380
- Harbour, Tiffany Kwader. Creating a New Guatemala: The 1952 Agrarian Reform Law. Masters Thesis, Wright State University, 26 June 2008.
- Kinzer, Stephen and Stephen Schlesinger (2005). Bitter Fruit: The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. Harvard University David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. ISBN 0-674-01930-X.
- La Feber, Walter (1993). Inevitable Revolutions The United States in Central America. Norton Press. ISBN 0-393-03434-8.
- McCleary, Rachel M. Dictating Democracy: Guatemala and the End of Violent Revolution. University Press of Florida, 1999. ISBN 9780813017266
- Original text: Decreto Número 900 El Congreso De La República De Guatemala