(1) Party Name and Code Number
Guatemalan National Democratic Movement, 441
Movimiento Democratico Nacional, MDN
(2) Information Base and Researchers
The information base on party politics in Guatemala consists of 1,687 pages from 79 documents, 14 of which are in Spanish. Only 139 pages or 13 percent pertain specifically to the MDN.
Janet Benshoof indexed the literature for retrieval.
Doreen Ellis coded the variables.
1.01 Year of Origin and 1.02 Name Changes
1955, AC8
0, AC8
The Movimiento Democratico Nacional was formed in November , 1955, by Castillo Armas and his supporters. It was the government party from 1955 to 1957, when Castillo Armas was assassinated. Anti-communist sentiment, as a reaction to the previous leftist regime of Arbenz, was its basic motivating force. There was no evidence of any name changes throughout our time period.
1.03 Organizational Discontinuity
9, AC7
The MDN was plagued by a series of splits during the later half of our time period. The first split, from which the Movimiento Liberacion Nacional developed, occurred in late 1959. Dissident members, who claimed that the MDN presidential candidate, Cruz Salazar, had "sold out" to the leader of the Partido Reconciliacion Deomocratica Nacional through certain pacts, left the MDN in protest of this action. The MLN considered itself as a rightist opposition party to the Ydigoras-PRDN government during the second half of our time period. Within the congress, two MDN splits occurred. One split led to the formation of the Partido Union Democratica, which generally allied itself with the government coalition (i.e., the PRDN and MDN) until it felt that it was unprofitable to do so. Another group of eight MDN congressmen seceded from the party in may, 1962, and became an independent, anti-government group. Their secession was related to the decreasing importance and profitability of the government coalition at that time. One source states that the MDN split to form the PRDN and the MDN in the congress of 1958. While the new PRDN members were probably past members of the Castillo Armas coalition, this does not mean that they were MDN members. (that author could also be describing an alignment of MDN deputies into those supporting the Ydigoras-Cruz Salazar pact and those remaining loyal to the MDN, alone.) There is no other evidence that states that the PRDN was formed by the MDN. However, there is the possibility that some individuals may have defected from the MDN into the PRDN. This is not interpreted as a group effort, and therefore not considered in this code.
1.04 Leadership Competition
13, AC5
Although two leadership changes occurred in the MDN after 1950 ( Castillo Armas, the founder and first leader of the party is not included in this number), there is no substantial evidence as to the number of party members involved in the designation of the new leader. The low adequacy-confidence code reflects this lack of data. The leadership changes were coded as occurring through a covert process because of one statement about the secret debates preceeding Miguel Ortiz Passarelli's nomination for president in 1957. There is no documentation of the way in which Colonel Jose Luis Cruz Salazar was chosen.
1.05 / 2.05 Legislative Instability and Strength
Instability is 1.01, AC6
Strength is .36 for 1955-62, AC6
The MDN did not exist during the first part of our time period. It was formed to contest the 1955 congressional elections as the "government" party. It won more than 80 percent of the seats, but its legislative representation declined consistently throughout our time period. The available sources often differed considerably concerning the number of seats that the MDN and other parties held in the 66 seat congress.
1.06 / 2.06 Electoral Instability and Strength
Instability is 1.0, AC6
Strength is .28 for 1957-62, AC6
Elections in Guatemala present a confusing picture. Congressional elections appear to have been held in 1950, 1953, 1955, 1958, 1959, and 1961. In addition, an election to a constituent assembly was held in 1954 but with all parties banned. Congressional election data for elections prior to 1958, however, do not exist in the file. Beginning with 1958, sources report conflicting returns, and some of the parties ran occasionally in coalitions. Therefore, we assessed electoral strength with reference to the two presidential elections of 1950 and 1958--excluding the presidential referendum of 1954 and the annulled election of 1957. The MDN did not exist to contest the 1950 election, but it won 28 percent of the vote in 1958, offering Cruz Salazar as its candidate.
2.01 Government Discrimination
7 for 1955-62, AC5
After the 1954 coup d'etat, Castillo Armas formed the MDN as the government party. At this time, other anti communist parties were allowed to develop, but these were all pro-government in orientation. Their strength was kept minimal by not allowing them to get sufficiently organized prior to the December, 1955 election and by restricting their actions. The MDN was the only party allowed any degree of freedom. In 1958, Ydigoras Fuentes was elected. During his first few months in office, he alternately harassed and tried to placate and ally with the MDN. Ydigoras eventually entered into an electoral and governmental alliance with Cruz Salazar, the leader of the "colaboracionistas." This group seems to have received governmental favors because they ran a common slate of candidates with the government. Thus, they received money, use of government supplies, vehicles and other government owned property, and propaganda privileges. The splinter MLN which was in opposition to the government received none of this.
2.02 Governmental Leadership
3 out of 8 for 1955-62, AC9
The MDN was formed during the Castillo Armas regime. It was the primary governmental party from the time of its inception in 1955 through Castillo Armas' assassination. From 1958 to 1962, Ydigoras Fuentes of the PRDN was president. Although the MDN was often in coalition with the PRDN at that time, the MDN cannot be considered as the governmental party.
2.03 Cabinet Participation
6 out of 8 for 1955-62, AC5
The MDN was in the cabinet during the Castillo Armas regime. What cabinet posts Castillo Armas had were probably all allotted to MDN members. With the advent of the Ydigoras regime and the Ydigoras-Cruz Salazar pact, the years of MDN participation in the cabinet become less clearly delineated. As reported in the New York Times, the Ydigoras-Cruz pact stated that Cruz would free his deputies' votes in the congressional decision on the presidency in 1959 and pro-Cruz groups would get at least three ministries plus other patronage, would have guaranteed political freedom, would have a national anti-communist administration without the revolutionary party, and Cruz would get an ambassadorship. It would thus appear that the two parties shared the cabinet participation. The only problem with this interpretation is that there is no substantial evidence stating that MDN members were in the cabinet until 1960. There are also statements describing the lack of a firm coalition between the PRDN and the MDN, even in 1959. We have thus conservatively coded the MDN as having participated in the cabinet for three years (1960-1962) during the later part of our time period. This code should be interpreted as meaning "at least three years."
2.04 National Participation
6, AC7
The MDN was a national party, but it ran proportionately stronger in Guatemala City than in the central region.
2.07 Outside Origin
1, AC9
The MDN was founded by Castillo Armas in 1955. It became the governmental party for his regime.
5.01 Ownership of Means of Production
3, AC3
Besides the general information relating to the MDN, one example in our data file implies that it advocated private ownership of the means of production. This is the 1956 attempt by Castillo Armas to start a bank owned by farmers and cattlemen who would supply the capital necessary to develop private farm projects and speed mechanization.
5.02 Government Role in Economic Planning
3, AC6
One of Guatemala's main problems was an underdeveloped economy that was often dominated by traditional elites and United States investment. Castillo Armas felt that one of the ways to solve this problem was through government planning. He formed a council of economic planning to develop a five-year plan "which covered public works, development of agriculture, the Indian economy, light and power systems, and technical coordination among various development organs." (Verner, p. 19) two of the development organs were the bank for agricultural development and the agency to set up rural colonies. Cruz Salazar did not seem to desire such an intensive policy of economic planning. Under Cruz the MDN supported plans for subsidization of specific industries or portions of an industry (e.g., particular agricultural products) in an effort to diversify the economy.
5.03 Redistribution of Wealth
2, AC3
During the Castillo Armas regime, an agrarian reform law was approved that granted a land title to the recipients of government lands with no resale possible for 25 years. Some land was distributed among the peasants, and Castillo Armas appealed to companies (e.g., United Fruit) to give the government its unused properties. His appeals were transformed into a threat when the new agrarian reform law declared that idle land could be expropriated if not put to use within two years, and idle land was to be taxed. However, it is doubtful that the redistribution and its laws were fully implemented. During the Ydigoras Fuentes regime, the MDN stance on redistribution is not clear. Being a member of the coalition government, the MDN at least accepted a graduated income tax. Cruz Salazar also spoke of desiring agrarian reform in a campaign speech. However, no further information was found in the literature.
5.04 Social Welfare
No information.
5.05 Secularization of Society
0, AC4
The Castillo Armas regime had a love-hate relationship with the Catholic church. While accepting support from clerical elements in Guatemala, the MDN did not allow the church to regain its past political power. The constituent assembly passed articles which restricted church support of political parties, guaranteed religious freedom, provided for the separation of church and state, did not permit catholic education in public schools, and prohibited clerics from political office. There is no information on the MDN policy during the Ydigoras regime.
5.06 Support of the Military
5, AC7
Castillo Armas, president of Guatemala and founder of the MDN, was a colonel as was Cruz Salazar, MDN presidential candidate in 1958. Castillo Armas expanded the police force during his regime and used the army for control of demonstrations and other social disorders. His regime depended upon military support. There is no reason to believe that this pro-military orientation of the MDN changed later, for the regime with which the MDN was allied was also supported by the armed forces.
5.07 Alignment With East-West Blocs
5, AC9
MDN leaders have continually favored the United States and have, indeed, depended upon it. The Castillo Armas invasion had United States aid and blessings, and the United States continued to support his intensely anti communist regime. Cruz Salazar was the United States' favorite for the presidency in 1958. The New York Times felt that this may have been the reason for his loss. Both the MDN and the PRDN remained allies with the United States during the second half of our time period through unilateral arrangements and through multilateral organizations like the OAS.
5.08 Anti-colonialism
3, AC4
Castillo Armas had very close links with the United States during his administration. One would thus expect that this extended to the area of foreign investment. One example is given of a law that would specifically aid foreign petroleum interests. It is inferred that such legislation was commonly used to encourage foreign investments. Later, there is only one reference to the MDN orientation to foreign investment. In a campaign speech, Cruz Salazar stated that there would be no change in policy. However, he did not appear to encourage United States investment, but rather to accept it.
5.09 Supranational Integration
3, AC6
Castillo Armas changed the past policy of the Arbenz regime toward Odeca, the Organization of Central American States. Arbenz had left Odeca during a disagreement over a policy issue. Castillo Armas re-entered the organization during his presidency. It is assumed that the MDN also supported the Central American Common Market during the Ydigoras regime as Ydigoras promoted it, and his party was in alliance with the MDN.
5.10 national integration
No information.
5.11 Electoral Participation
1, AC8
The constitution of 1956, drafted by Castillo Armas' supporters, created a secret ballot for literates and an open ballot for illiterate males ( illiterate females were not allowed to vote). An electoral law issued later made voting compulsory for literate males and females over eighteen years of age and optional for illiterate males.
5.12 Protection of Civil Rights
3, AC9
MDN philosophy was a frantic anti-communism, a reaction to the reformist Arbenz regime. During the Castillo Armas regime, all leftists were restricted from organizing, and past leaders were often arrested or exiled. The Communist Party was barred from Guatemala by the 1956 constitution, whereas Ydigoras is said to have had a type of deal with Mendez Montenegro, leader of the leftist-oriented PR. The MDN entered neither national coalitions nor Guatemala City mayoral electoral alliances with them.
  • 5.13 Interference With Civil Liberties

0, AC6
One source states that Castillo Armas allowed an oppositionist weekly to be published. Yet he also prohibited the use of "political or undemocratic propaganda." This contradiction was inherent in his policy which guaranteed civil liberties except during extenuating circumstances.
5.14 / 5.15 US--Soviet Experts Left-Right Ratings
US says 1, conservative
Soviets say 1, stands in a most extreme reactionary anti-communist position.
6.00 Open Competition in the Electoral Process
2.5, AC7
The MDN was formed for the 1955 elections, which were conducted under the Castillo Armas government following his coup of 1954. The freedom of these elections is suspect, as the MDN won more than 80 percent of the seats. In the congressional elections of 1958, 1959, and 1961, however, the MDN followed more of a competitive strategy, although it did form a strong alliance with the PRDN in 1959 and a weaker one in 1961.
6.10 Restricting Party Competition
1.5, AC7
Castillo Armas can certainly be considered to have maintained his executive position through the restriction of political opposition. Naturally, those parties that were most limited were the leftist parties and groups previously aligned with the Arbenz regime. Even when he allowed the formation of political parties, they were required to maintain a supportive position towards the government. Thus, the new parties actually cooperated rather than competed with Castillo Armas and the MDN, as no true opposition existed. This was illustrated by Verner's 1956 cohesion index which characterized the whole legislature as being highly cohesive. While out of the governmental leadership during the second half of our time period, the MDN was more oriented towards electoral competition. To retain as much power and governmental support as possible during this time, the MDN allied with the Ydigoras administration. The Ydigoras regime (and thus the MDN) restricted competition by harassing opposition leaders and voters. They also utilized government supplies, vehicles, and money for their campaign, and local officials generally supported the status quo to retain their privileged position for patronage and money. Thus it can be said that the party did restrict competition to some degree.
6.20 Subverting the Political System
0, AC9
The one chance that the MDN had to subvert the political process was when Ortiz was named president in 1957. Upon opposition pressure for his resignation because of alleged electoral fraud, the MDN agreed to participate in new elections rather than forcibly retain his position. The Castillo Armas coup d'etat could be viewed as subversion of the political process, however, the MDN was not in existence at that time.
6.30 Propagandizing Ideas and Program
No information.
6.50 Providing for Welfare of Party Members
No information.
7.01 Sources of Funds
6, AC9
Government parties in Guatemala are supported by government funds, patronage, and supplies. Thus, the MDN received this type of government support during the Castillo Armas regime. Although not the government party after 1958, the MDN received government funds (especially during electoral campaigns) because of its alliance with the PRDN. It should be noted that much of the money which supported Castillo Armas and Cruz Salazar as the 1958 presidental candidates was said to have originally been from the United States. This is probably true, as the United States supported Castillo's anti-communist regime. However, this aid would have been disbursed to the Guatemalan government rather than to the party itself.
7.02 Source of Members
No information.
7.03 sources of leaders
2 (sectors 03, 07), AC4
John Sloan stated that "the electoral game is primarily played by professional people--lawyers, military men, doctors, and teachers." (p. 228) these party leaders generally live in Guatemala City. However, there is no evidence that these leaders are the MDN parliamentary candidates, although this could possibly be their status as there are no residency requirements for representing a department. The low adequacy-confidence code reflects the inconclusiveness of the literature.
7.04 Relations With Domestic Parties
5, AC7
The MDN was the governmental party during the Castillo Armas regime. As such it did not have need to form alliances with other parties, Castillo only allowed the existence of those parties which supported him. Thus all the parties tended to agree in the legislature and to follow a similar ideology of anti-communism. When the MDN lost the governmental leadership, it allied with the PRDN to retain government support. As this alliance included cabinet responsibilities, it is inferred that the MDN had some dependence on the PRDN. This code best illustrates the general relationship between the two parties. However, there were certain times when the MDN could be considered highly dependent on the PRDN, especially between 1959 and 1961. In 1961 and 1962, there was a growing independence of the MDN from the PRDN in all areas of their alliance, as manifested by the withdrawal of parliamentary members from the pro government majority and Ydigoras' increasing dependence on the military. Thus the code shows the average orientation of the MDN.
7.05 Relations With Foreign Organizations
5, AC5
Although there is no information on this subject, it is inferred from the general data that the MDN was autonomous of international relationships. The MDN was very nationalistic and was against other parties with international affiliations, i.e., the communist party in the Guatemalan case.
8.01 Structural Articulation
4, AC3
From vague references, it can be inferred that the MDN had at least two national organs. There was a national convention and some other type of meeting of party leaders, probably either an executive committee or a parliamentary members' meeting. Both of these organs are only mentioned in passing statements, and there is therefore no information about their responsibilities and the selection of their members.
8.02 Intensiveness of Organization
3, AC3
Although one source refers to the "local branches of political parties ," it does not appear that the MDN was organized on any more intensive level than a county basis. The Guatemalan political parties were notorious for their lack of organization and thus would not be expected to have local units representing small spatial areas.
8.03 Extensiveness of Organization
It is probable that all parties were most completely organized in the areas surrounding Guatemala City. However, there is no evidence for this suggestion.
8.04 Frequency of Local Meetings
No information.
8.05 Frequency of National Meetings
No information.
8.06 Maintaining Records
5, AC3
The MDN published party propaganda during elections. There appeared to be some type of membership lists because the parties needed a certain number of signatures to be legally registered. There is no other indication that the lists were maintained, and they were thus inferred to be inaccurate.
8.07 Pervasiveness of Organization
0, AC5
Since the MDN itself was an amorphous entity, it could not expected to have organized socio-economic sectors, although there is no information supporting this assumption. In fact, during the Castillo Armas regime there was a widespread dissolution of organized sectors, i.e., labor, campesino groups, in reaction to the previous Arbenz regime.
9.01 Nationalization of Structure
No information.
9.02 Selecting the National Leader
Castillo Armas founded the MDN and remained its leader until his assassination in 1957. After this point, the information relating to the national leadership is very vague. Statements about the selection process range on the one hand from a reference to the candidate being chosen by the party or some kind of nomination occurring to the other hand where there is a portrayal of the candidate announcing his candidacy with party support or the party seen as a collection of supporters for a self-chosen caudillo. Because these are only impressions received from passing references, we cannot determine who selected the MDN national leader.
9.03 Selecting Parliamentary Candidates
There is one reference to a problem that the ruling Ydigoras coalition had in deciding which candidates from which party should represent the coalition. There is no information as to what group resolved the problem, nor is there any other information relating to this variable.
9.04 Allocating Funds
The governmental parties received financial support from public funds. However, there is no information stating either where these monies were gathered (at all levels or at one level) or information about their distribution, if any, between levels.
9.05 Formulating Policy
7, AC3
A general statement by John Sloan about the autocratic control of Guatemalan parties by their top leadership seems to be illustrated in the case of the MDN. Castillo tightly controlled party members, including congressional deputies. Thus his policy appears to have been party policy. Later, Cruz Salazar committed the MDN to an electoral pact with the PRDN without consulting party members or leaders. He remained the MDN chief through Ydigoras' support. These two examples suggest that MDN policy was formulated by a specific leader, although this information is not really sufficient for a confident code. There is also discussion of meetings of leaders during times of crisis (e.g., Castillo's assassination) that may also have had policy making functions.
9.06 Controlling Communications
Although there is mention of the distribution of propaganda during elections, there is no information as to the structural level of its control.
9.07 Administering Discipline
4, AC5
Castillo Armas may have administered discipline to the MDN ranks in order to maintain their cohesion. Afterwards, it appears that a leadership clique administered the discipline. This was evidenced in the attempted purge of Cruz Salazar.
9.08 Leadership Concentration
6, AC5
Initially, the MDN leadership was exercised by Castillo Armas, the party founder and president of Guatemala. After his assassination, Ortiz became the presidential candidate and was proclaimed president by the MDN. His presidency was later rescinded due to attacks by other parties alleging the fraudulent nature of the elections. Cruz Salazar became the new candidate. Ydigoras won the plurality of votes and Cruz released the deputies in the congressional decision on the election. A group of MDN leaders opposed this and later actions that Cruz took without their consultation to align the MDN with the PRDN. These other leaders split from the MDN. Thus, Cruz appears to have been the individual who exercised leadership over the MDN. It is possible that he was aided by a clique of supporters because there had been an opposition clique. However, no information in the literature substantiates this possibility.
10.01 Legislative Cohesion
.65, AC4
The MDN was probably completely cohesive under Castillo Armas' control. The control that Castillo Armas had over the MDN blocs affected the independence of congress. (Verner, 1968) in fact, the entire legislature (MDN plus other pro-government groups) was highly cohesive. Verner computed its index of dissent and found that the average dissent index was about twenty percent. It can thus be inferred with some degree of certainty that the MDN itself was completely cohesive. After 1958, the MDN experienced a weakening of party cohesiveness as various leaders or cliques tried to gain control of the party. MDN deputies dissented from the Cruz decision to support Ydigoras for the presidency, for example. This later led to the MLN split. A group of MDN deputies also reorganized with some PRDN deputies, becoming the PUD. It can be expected that these divisions were illustrated in the party's cohesiveness in the legislature.
10.02 Ideological Factionalism
0, AC5
There is no indication of an ideology that binds the MDN together. Castillo's efforts to formulate a philosophy failed and the only remaining unifying force was anti-communism. All party members subscribed to this orientation.
10.03 Issue Factionalism
4 for 1958-62, AC5
Under Castillo Armas' control, the MDN was not divided by different orientations towards political issues. However, during the Ydigoras regime, both the MLN and the PUD were formed. The MLN split due to Cruz Salazar's unilateral alliance of the MDN with the PRDN. There is no specific reason given why some MDN deputies joined the PUD, but the PUD was said to represent a new orientation in the congress. This can possibly be interpreted as regarding various issues. Lack of information about the size of these factions is reflected in the adequacy-confidence code. It is interesting to note, however, that ere MLN survived this period whereas the MDN did not. But this information cannot be incorporated into a quantitative estimate of strength because later MLN success may have developed from an initially very small faction.
10.04 Leadership Factionalism
2, AC5
Although one source commented that Guatemalan parties have been divided by leadership conflicts, it does not seem that the MDN experienced factionalism based on the personal attraction of various leaders. Cliques may have conflicted or various groups may have attempted to control the party, but they were not composed of a leader and his personalistic following.
10.05 Strategic or Tactical Factionalism
4 for 1958-62, AC5
The MLN opposed the Cruz alignment of the MDN with the PRDN. This may be considered a disagreement over the basic tactic of whether to support or oppose the present regime. Again, the membership of the faction is not discussed and is reflected in a lower adequacy-confidence code.
10.06 Party Purges
0, AC8
Although the party tried to purge Cruz Salazar for his personal alignment of the MDN with the PRDN, he managed to remain a party member because a legal requirement for purges was not met. There is no other evidence of a purge or an attempted purge during our time period.
11.01 Membership Requirements
No information.
11.02 Membership Participation
No information.
11.03 Material Incentives
4, AC5
Guatemalan parties reflect the opportunism of their militants. They generally lack ideology and binding programs. The party purpose is to promote a group of men to places of power and control of patronage and funds. The incentive for MDN militants during our entire time period was material in nature. Castillo Armas controlled the national resources, and later Cruz received a portion which he could then mete out as he desired. Cruz maintained his position of prominence in the party (rather than being purged by disaffected party members) because of his control of material benefits.
11.04 Purposive Incentives
0, AC3
The lack of ideology also relates to this variable. Although Castillo Armas was an unmitigated anti-communist, it cannot be said that he or his supporters were motivated to support the party for the purpose of ridding the country of communism. The MDN militants were generally motivated by material incentives.
11.05 Doctrinism
0, AC9
The lack of ideology of the MDN would also mean a lack of doctrine. Castillo Armas made the only attempt at developing an ideology. It was called the new life. However, this philosophy was not utilized because it did not attract support for the MDN. Castillo Armas' "liberation" continued without a doctrine, and after his assassination there was no further attempt to develop one.
11.06 Personalism
0, AC5
Castillo Armas did not appear to have exercised charismatic control over the MDN. His personal control was through patronage. This was also true of the later MDN leaders, for one source states that Cruz Salazar retained his power through patronage given to him by Ydigoras.