Glorious Victory

by Diego Rivera (1954)

Glorious Victory is a critical view of the 1954 CIA coup of Guatemala’s democratically elected President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán. The United States removed Guzmán from power and replaced him with a dictatorial military commander because Guzmán threatened the landholdings of the United Fruit Company with his agrarian reform laws. These laws stipulated that the Guatemalan government would seize and redistribute any uncultivated land and grant monetary compensation to the people from whom the land was taken. The UFC opposed this plan and enlisted the help of the US Intelligence Services and PR Firms.

In the center of the mural, secretary of state John Foster Dulles is seen shaking hands with military commander and now president Castillo Armas. Secretary Dulles also has one hand on a nuclear bomb with Eisenhower’s laughing face on it. Armas and his fellow military officers carry pockets full of dollar bills and weapons to symbolize the bribery and violence involved in the mission. The man in the suit whispering into Secretary Dulles’ ear is his brother Allen Dulles, director of the CIA. Rivera sought to depict the internal collusion between the brothers in carrying out the coup as both had large investments in the United Fruit Company. The most powerful image however, lies at the feet of all these men. The bloodied and mutilated bodies of the true victims of the coup, the Guatemalan people, lay haphazardly on the ground.

Isaiah 1:2-4

Hear, O heavens, and listen, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib;
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.

Ah, sinful nation,
people laden with iniquity,
offspring who do evil,
children who deal corruptly,
who have forsaken the Lord,
who have despised the Holy One of Israel,
who are utterly estranged!

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