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Reply #10: Food for thought item concerning Chiquita (United Fruit) [View All]

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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-10-06 11:36 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. Food for thought item concerning Chiquita (United Fruit)
United Fruit Company Strike

Colombia 1928


In 1928 workers in the Colombian banana zone in the Department of Magdalena went on strike against the United Fruit Company. Workers in the region had been organizing for a decade, creating unions such as the Unin Sindical de Trabajadores del Magdalena (USTM). In 1928 the leaders of the USTM presented the company with a list of demands that ranged from wage increases to the abolition of company stores. When the company refused to meet these demands, the workers went on strike in November 1928. With the strike unresolved in early December, the government sent in army troops who massacred hundreds and perhaps thousands of strikers who were peacefully gathering for a march in the town of Cinaga. The massacre, made famous in novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garca Mrquez, had profound political consequences in Colombia, as it damaged the reputation of the ruling Conservative Party and contributed to a victory by the Liberal Party in the 1930 elections.
(snip) /


United Fruit and Guatemala:
One might naively inquire how a small Christian country could harbor such violence and injustice. In 1944 the Guatemala economy was mostly agricultural. Two percent of the landowners owned 72 percent of the land. Ninety percent of the landowners held a mere 15 percent of the productive land. Poverty stricken Indians labored like slaves for 150 days each year on sprawling plantations in lieu of taxes. Illiteracy was 75 percent among the general population and 95 percent among the Indians. Life expectancy was fifty years for Ladinos (Spanish/Indian blood) and forty years for Indians. <2> The major financial benefactor was United Fruit Company. <3> This company was the largest employer with 40,000 jobs in a country with fewer than a million working aged men. United Fruit also owned the only railroad, the only major port, the telephone and telegraph service and was the biggest influence on the United States owned electric facility. <4>

Direct United States government involvement into Guatemala, the CIA's first covert operation in Latin America, in one of the many so-called banana republics, began in 1947 instigated by the United Fruit Company. They used their high priced Washington lobbying firm and a considerable public relations campaign which convinced the American public that Guatemala had become a Soviet satellite. Thomas G. Corcoran, a high powered lawyer, proposed the idea of a CIA overthrow of Arbenz. His like-minded associate, General Walter Bedell Smith, Director of Central Intelligence (from October 1950 to February 1953 under Truman and Under Secretary of State under Eisenhower) took the idea of a CIA overthrow back to his boss, Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. The Dulles brothers, Allen and John were previously partners in the law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell that collected fees from United Fruit Company with their big acquisition of the Guatemalan and other Central American railroads.

Bloodshed and despair at the hands of successive right wing barbaric dictators has been the lot of the citizens of Guatemala all financed by trusting, distracted American taxpayers who are force-fed by government/corporate media propaganda. We blindly fund American big business friendly governments convinced by our complicit government that the Guatemalan people would fall prey to dreaded communism if we withhold our support. Yet, because of our blood-soaked money, they fall prey to their own barbaric, American installed puppet leaders.

Sabino Perez, who watched in 1982 as his village went up in flames, said, "You can give money to reconstruct a country after a war, but you can't reconstruct the lost humanity. You can build buildings but nothing can bring the dead back to life." <21>
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