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EdgyIndividualistBuffoon wrote

Fascinating subject.

On United Fruit Company's Board of Trustees was Allen Dulles. He was also recently appointed head of the CIA. His brother, John Foster Dulles, also invested in UFCO, was the US Secretary of State. It should be noted that these companies often purposefully undervalued their property for tax reasons. Arbenz may have taken away their property, but he compensated them based on their own declared value.

25% of UFCO's Banana production was in Guatemala, so they weren't just a menace to one country; they were pulling this shit all over Latin America.

Check out this memo by the US Ambassador to Colombia communicating their exploits in Colombia:


The UFCO (now Chiquita) isn't/wasn't the only one with blood on their hands though.

For example there's also the ITT Corporation, who owned the telecommunications of Brasil. ITT feared the democratically elected João Goulart would bring about nationalization of this vital industry as a part of his land reform program - so the President of ITT Corporation, Harold Geneen, got his good buddy John McCone (director of CIA) to interfere.

This would eventually lead to the 1964 Coup in Brasil and the installation of the military dictatorship of Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco. Fun Fact: John McCone would later work for ITT Corporation afterwards. ITT Corporation would then go on to finance opponents of the democratically elected (seeing a trend here?) socialist Allende government in the 1973 Chilean Coup, installing Pinochet.

And of course everyone already knows about the death squads in Nicaragua, which was very much a response to agrarian reforms. Same story with Cuba.

As you can see this is nothing peculiar, this is essentially the history of the US relationship with Latin America (and the west's relationship with much of "third world" in general). American companies owned (and still own) large areas of arable land, the product of which is/was being created to be exported and exchanged...

This creates an obvious problem - you can't feed a people if the land that would otherwise be used to produce food to be consumed is being used to produce food/goods in order to export and exchange them (the resulting profit also being exported). So when citizens of Latin American countries finally were allowed to vote for their leaders, naturally they voted for those who promised agrarian reform, hence why so many socialists are/were elected.


zod wrote

The next time a liberal insists the US isn't imperialist, I'm shoving a banana in their eye.


tnstaec wrote

Hence the term "banana republic"


watermelon wrote

Which is very generous considering they're really corporate dictatorships or Ancapistan actualized.


foggymorn wrote

More history:

United Fruit was one of the largest multinational companies in the early 20th century. In 1954 it lobbied the U.S. government to overthrow the elected government of Guatemala. Formed in 1898 by the merger of Boston Fruit Company and Tropical Trading and Transport Company, United Fruit dominated all aspects of the banana trade from Latin America to the United States.

Because of this control the company was able to dictate terms and conditions regarding taxes and land purchases to the governments of Latin America. This began coming to an end after World War II.

With the end of the war, workers unionized, and countries wanted more control of their resources. The harshest response to this trend was the coup that unseated the democratically elected government of Guatemala. United Fruit's share of the banana market slid from 80 percent in 1950 to 34 percent in 1973

When United Fruit was founded in 1898, the two companies that merged brought mutually beneficial resources to the merger. The Boston Fruit Company controlled banana sales along the northeast coast of the United States, had a fleet of steamships, and owned land in the Caribbean. Tropical Trading and Transport Company owned land in South and Central America, had a railroad there, and controlled much of the sales of bananas along the southeast coast of the United States.

The newly created company had control of the banana from growth to sale. The company used bribes and threats of U.S. government intervention in Latin American countries. The company also bought rival businesses to increase its control of the industry, and by the early 1900s, United Fruit controlled at least 8 percent of all banana imports in the United States.

With the end of World War II, United Fruit began to have problems. One of these was Guatemala. The first leftist government was elected by the people in 1951. The government, led by Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, wanted to develop a broader base for the economy, which included land reform.

United Fruit and the U.S. government claimed that Arbenz was a communist. In 1953 the company supported a coup by a small part of the Guatemalan army, which the government was able to put down. Then, in 1954 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) got involved.

Fearing the spread of communism, a fear shared by United Fruit, the CIA supported a coup against the government, which succeeded. Arbenz resigned his position, and Guatemala returned to rule by a right-wing dictator.

The coup did not have the effect United Fruit had hoped for. President Dwight Eisenhower faced criticism from other nations over the CIA's involvement in the coup. Then the U.S. Justice Department took United Fruit to court under the Sherman Anti-Trust and Wilson Acts because of its monopoly on the banana market. Ultimately, the company was forced to divest itself of part of its banana business and was prohibited from buying any other banana production companies.

After the coup, United Fruit found that it was viewed with hostility by other Latin American countries. Workers' rights were now being supported by local governments, which increased the costs United Fruit incurred to grow and harvest the bananas.

In an attempt to improve its position, United Fruit began selling off land and buying more bananas from local producers. The company continued to move away from controlling the entire process of bringing the bananas to market and moved to diversify its business.