Episode 26: On the Guatemalan Radio, An Introduction to Bananaland

This is the story of a fragile democracy, a foreign sponsored coup, and a pirate radio station.

On May 1, coinciding with the worker’s holiday May Day, in 1954, Guatemalans found a new station on a previously unused band of their shortwave radios. Radio Liberación, the Voice of the Liberation, announced itself as a clandestine transmitter, broadcasting from a “secret place” within the Republic of Guatemala and reporting on the crimes of the communists.

For this episode, we relied on extensive reporting from Sylvia Brindis Snow and Shane Snow as well as investigative reporting done by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer and published in their book Bitter Fruit and historian Nick Cullather’s book, Strange History. Additional background research comes from David Talbot’s book The Devil’s Chessboard.

More reading:


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