Bananas are awesome. They taste delicious and are closely associated with monkeys. That there is enough, in my eyes, to be a fan. But, I only had some idea of how violent they were.
I was looking for general information on Honduras and stumbled through wikipedia following the trail of Banana Republic and I found a lot of interesting things.
I knew that Banana Republic was a sham/puppet government set up in South America by, mostly, the US. I didn’t know that O’Henry coined the term. (I found no evidence that he coined the Gap or Old Navy). That’s where my knowledge ended.
The United Fruit Company started by shipping bananas. They quickly moved into building their own railroads, infrastructure, and plantations. They hired private militias and installed, with force, favorable governments. A banana company with an army is a unique idea to me. The thought of uniforms alone make it a cool concept.
The company even has a massacre named after it. When the workers went on strike in Columbia, the US threatened to invade if the government didn’t act. The Columbian military responded by killing 47 – 2000 (that’s what the article said) men, women and children who had gathered in a square.
This was all going on about 80 – 90 years ago. It’s not cool what they did, but it amazes me that this is how we got our bananas. But, it was a long time ago. The United Fruit Company is now Chiquita and we live in the 21st century. Right?
“On March 14, 2007, Chiquita Brands was fined $25 million as part of a settlement with the United States Justice Department for having ties to Colombian paramilitary groups. According to court documents, between 1997 and 2004, officers of a Chiquita subsidiary paid approximately $1.7 million to the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), in exchange for local, employee protection in Colombia’s volatile banana harvesting zone. Similar payments were also made to theRevolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as well as the National Liberation Army (ELN) from 1989 to 1997, both left-wing organizations. All three of these groups are on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.”
– from wikipedia
Not quite the same as toppling governments, but still interesting.
This kind of thing is why I love bouncing around wikipedia. I went from looking to see if Honduras had ancient temples, to learning about the Banana Wars, from there I found interesting information on filibustering and the brief, officially recognized, nation of Walkeragua. (Some dude named Walked took a couple of hundred people and overthrew Nicaragua for a short time.)
The filibustering really intrigued me. Who would have thought that bananas would lead me to that?
So, should I feel guilty for enjoying bananas? Probably. Many have died and been treated unfairly. But, they’re so damn delicious.
By the way, Honduras does have ruined temples. So, I get to put that in an upcoming book.