This article reevaluates the U.S.-backed coup in 1954 that overthrew Guatemala's democratically elected president, Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán. The coup is generally portrayed as the opening shot of the Cold War in the Western Hemisphere and a watershed moment for U.S.–Latin American relations, when the United States supplanted its Good Neighbor Policy with a hardline anti-Communist approach. Despite the extensive literature on the coup, the Soviet Union's perspectives on the matter have received scant discussion. Using Soviet-bloc and United Nations (UN) archival sources, this article shows that Latin American Communists and Soviet sympathizers were hugely influential in shaping Moscow's perceptions of hemispheric relations. Although regional Communists petitioned the Soviet Union to provide support to Árbenz, officials in Moscow were unwilling to prop up what they considered a “bourgeois-democratic” revolution tottering under the weight of U.S. military pressure. Soviet leaders were, however, keen to use their position on the UN Security Council to challenge the authority of the Organization of American States and undermine U.S. conceptions of “hemispheric solidarity.” The coup, moreover, revealed the force of anti-U.S. nationalism in Latin America during a period in which Soviet foreign policy was in flux and the Cold War was becoming globalized.

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