SINCE 1931, Guatemala had endured the repressive military dictatorship of Jorge Ubico. The landowners, middle sector, and lower classes were not represented in government. Middle sector opposition to Ubico first appeared in 1941 and erupted in 1944 following the downfall of Hernández in Salvador. Following Ubico's forced resignation in July 1944, a struggle for political power ensued for the next five years. The landowners, in alliance with old line military officers, sought to preserve their privileged status. The middle sector joined forces with the younger military officers to achieve constitutional government. Both groups opposed President-elect Juan José Arévalo, whose social and economic programs for the poor were labeled as communistic. Isolated from the traditional political groups, he increased his reliance upon local communists. From 1944 to 1949, the country moved from the political right to the political left.
The explosive nature of Guatemalan politics in 1944 was caused by several factors. Coffee and bananas accounted for approximately 90 percent of the nation's income. As elsewhere in Central America, the nature of the economy forged two distinct socioeconomic groups: the