GUATEMALA CITY -- Juan Jose Arevalo Bermejo, 86, a former president of Guatemala whose civilian government was considered a shining moment for the poor in a nation dominated by military governments, died Oct. 6 at a hospital here. The cause of death was not reported.
Mr. Arevalo, a former university humanities professor, returned to Guatemala from Argentina after a 1944 popular uprising that ended the 14-year-old military dictatorship of Jorge Ubico. Becoming president the following year, Mr. Arevalo set about carrying out social reforms akin to those of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States.
During his six years in office, Mr. Arevalo established a social security system, began agrarian reforms and worked to integrate the Indians, who made up about half the population, into the nation.
In 1951, he turned the government over to his elected successor, Col. Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, who expanded the reforms under a center-left administration until he was overthrown in a U.S.-backed revolt in 1954.
Col. Carlos Castillo Armas, who led the CIA-funded rebels in an invasion from Honduras, took power until his assassination in 1957. A series of right-wing military governments followed, and a leftist insurgency began in 1960, and continues today.
Mr. Arevalo was one of only two civilian Guatemalan chief executives in the past 60 years to complete his term. The other was Julio Cesar Mendez Montenegro, who served from 1966 to 1970.
Mr. Arevalo was ambassador to Chile under Mendez Montenegro.
He wrote several books, among them "The Shark and the Sardine," a criticism of U.S. policy in Latin America.
Survivors include his wife, Margarita de Leon; their five children; a sister; and a brother.