If the author's goal was to tell a story to reveal a wrong, Miguel Angel Asturias has accomplished his goal.
This is the story of an ugly American, George Maker Thompson. He had been a pirate in the Caribbean but wanted to go inland where he felt he could become rich.
He meets Jinger Kind, a businessman from New Orleans. They discuss the local people who they consider backward. Their idea is to take land from the natives and that by building roads, they are bringing civilization and progress in return for their gaining personal wealth. Kind also states that in ending isolation and opening a sea port, they are bringing progress.
Thompson meets and falls in love with a young native, Mayaris.
Thompson, Mr. Kind, Mayaris' mother, Dona Flora and a person called the Commander, set about buying the land from the natives. They don't mind using bullying tatics and state that if gold bullets (meaning money) don't work, there is always lead.
Things go smoothly until Mayaris realizes that Thompson is taking advantage of her people. She dresses in white and throws herself into a river to drown herself in protest against Thompson. Dona Flora doesn't seem too upset with this and later marries Thompson, herself.
Thompson represents the large U.S. company attempting to gain control and wealth from the uneducated natives.
The book was dry, it seemed more like reading the details from a journal or newspaper. Some of the characters were just known by their titles so it was impersonal but the message was delivered how a major U.S. company could take advantage of things if the natives are too trusting.