Friday, 3 January 2020

banana republic

Though a latter-day manifestation and another pineapple plantation, a competitor, might get stronger associations as a robber-baron for the US over-throw and annexation of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i it behooves one to remember that the United Fruit Company (and its successor Chiquita Brands International), whom enjoyed a different though nonetheless exploitative and neocolonial turf, in the Caribbean and Central America is no different and perhaps consequentially worse in some regards than the Dutch or the British East India Company and similar entities.
Powerful and able to act unilaterally with the full back of the US government and its military might, the United Fruit Company imposed martial law on Honduras on this day in 1932 to prevent disruption to supplies and the nascent Caribbean cruise-industry that had developed out of their shipping operations. The term for the client states of these monoculture corporations popularised by O. Henry’s short story Cabbages and Kings, but already manifestly obvious. An armada of steam ships—painted white to deflect the sun and thus keep its cargo cooler—had been put in service to bring bananas to northern and European market and the company saw an opportunity to maximise profits further by impressment of the fleet (naval surplus ships from World War I) to shuttle passengers around as well.