Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, April 20, 2021

Regime change in the name of commerce hasn’t been (and, to this day, isn’t) limited to that black liquid found in the Middle East. Peter Chapman’s “Bananas!: How The United Fruit Company Shaped the World” goes deep into the United Fruit Company’s economic and political dominance in Central America during the early 20th Century, which included familiar corporatist tactics:

In some countries, United Fruit blatantly paid no taxes at all for decades. In others, when troubled by local officials, it simply installed a more sympathetic government. In Honduras in 1911, the banana men not only staged an invasion to depose the current regime and put in a new one, they had the audacity to demand the new government reimburse the costs incurred in the invasion!…

It may seem hard to believe that the banana business could be as nefarious as the oil business. But to our banana chroniclers, it may have been worse. The banana men managed to be at once ferociously exploitative, while cultivating a beloved image with their customers, pioneering public relations and marketing practices still in use today.

Equating yesteryear’s interventionist actions with today’s blood-for-oil foreign policy certainly puts things into perspective. I’m sure the history of United Fruit (today Chiquita Brands) is far from common knowledge, even though it should be as a watershed moment in CIA influence (i.e., the Guatemala coup in 1954).

But it’s important to look at this more comprehensively. It’s not just isolated one-off actions that jump from one corner of the globe to another — global interests by American-based corporations are the drivers for Washington’s foreign policy. This isn’t new, either for the U.S. nor other world powers past and present. If more people kept themselves informed, maybe the periodic jingoistic war rallying would fizzle out.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/20/2008 10:37:15 AM
Category: Business, History, Political
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