Join our crowdsourced effort to uncover the CIA's activities in Guatemala

Join our crowdsourced effort to uncover the CIA’s activities in Guatemala

On the anniversary of the CIA-backed overthrow of Guatemalan leadership, MuckRock wants you to take part in building our collection of coup-related documents

Written by
Edited by JPat Brown

The 1954 Guatemalan Coup was just the sort of covert conniving that earned the Central Intelligence Agency its reputation for dirty cloak-and-dagger deceit. With a combination of funds, weapons, and a radio station playing false news, the U.S. was able to ignore its own lipservice to the democratic ideal and overthrow the country’s rightfully-elected Jacobo Árbenz. For decades, the CIA would neither confirm nor deny its involvement and the records related to it.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the CIA made its first release of materials related to their sophomore effort at re-organizing the leadership of world powers. Since then, the CIA has released only a fraction of the 100,000 pages it has on the Operation PBFortune and Operation PBSuccess - the two programs under which the overthrow occurred - and related documentation from the time. A recent request from MuckRock user Michael Best recently returned a 227-page index of just the files that had previously been released in response to other requests.

The CIA is notoriously one of the most difficult agencies with which to deal. They continue to handle all of their requests via fax and snail mail, and they still haven’t even acknowledged our request for their FOIA regulations, which was submitted in March as part of our FOIA March Madness competition. But we won’t let that deter us.

In honor of the 62nd anniversary of the mess in Guatemala, we’re asking you to help us toss some easy pitches toward the CIA. Given that it’s a list of previously-processed requests, they shouldn’t yield much further work on their end. Take a look through and let us know via Google Form which materials you want to see on MuckRock. We’ll submit the request in your name (if you want), and you’ll be helping us continue to grow one of the largest collections of publicly-released government records collections in the world.

Have suggestions for related or other requests you’d like to see made? Let us know at

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