In political science , the term banana republic describes a politically unstable country with an economy dependent upon the exportation of a limited-resource product, such as bananas or minerals. Lee Christmas , to overthrow the civil government of Honduras and install a military government friendly to foreign businessmen.
The liberals who use this phrase mean to conjure the image of a distant and unstable tropical country that cannot be bothered to behave responsibly—a failed state of feckless and cartoonish leaders, broken institutions, and unserious citizens. But looking at the history behind the term reveals something else: The behavior that it describes is perfectly horrifying, but the cavalier use of the term today is morally obtuse: On the run from the law for embezzlement, O.
The name stuck, coming to designate a generic state with an overreliance on a single export commodity that could leave its economy vulnerable to price swings on the international market. In the early twentieth century, rival banana companies armed guerrilla groups to try to depose leaders unfriendly to their interests. Political instability could then lead to U. Company consolidation brought some peace, but in the form of oligarchic governments that would make sweetheart deals with U.
With the banana companies as powerful generators of wealth, there was a heavy political cost to be paid for opposing their interests. In banana republics, that someone was typically the banana company.
UFCo was a pioneering vertically-integrated corporation, an American capitalist success story, which owned vast swaths of land for cultivation in multiple countries and operated railroads and a fleet of commercial ships. To many, UFCo was also synonymous with imperialist exploitation. The poet Pablo Neruda also invoked the image of the United Fruit Company as a parasitic agent of imperial exploitation, writing: Trying to negotiate a more equitable arrangement all too often led to brutality.
After years of kleptocratic and murderous dictatorship in Guatemala, popular movements forced democratic elections in Arbenz decided to expropriate land that UFCo had left fallow and distribute it to poor peasants. UFCo lobbied the U. Guatemala went on to suffer decades of civil conflict, and hopes for peaceful, democratic reform throughout the region were dashed.
This reason for this uptick in use is unclear; perhaps it was the success of the Cuban Revolution of , which focused the attention of the English-speaking world on Latin America and its political and economic troubles. The fictional leader of Bananas , a Fidel Castro type, goes mad and orders the citizens of his imaginary banana republic to wear their underwear outside of their pants.
Like subsequent Hollywood representations of banana republics, films like Commando , License to Kill , or The Expendables , Bananas is not a film that encourages us to take the political problems of banana republics seriously. Imaginary banana republics apparently exist to give American audiences laughs—or to furnish backdrops for fantasy violence and ludicrous body counts.
I n our own time, reality television star and occasional presidential candidate Donald Trump also uses the image of the banana republic in the service of fantasy. What ties together invocations of banana republics on the left and right is a shared investment in histrionic American chauvinism.
But what ties together invocations of banana republics on the left and right as a term of political abuse is a shared investment in histrionic American chauvinism. This has never happened before. In , Zemurray bought 6, hectares 15, acres in the Caribbean coast of Honduras for exploitation by the Cuyamel Fruit Company. In , Zemurray conspired with Manuel Bonilla , an ex-president of Honduras —07 , and the American mercenary Gen. Lee Christmas , to overthrow the civil government of Honduras and install a military government friendly to foreign businessmen.
To that end, the mercenary army of the Cuyamel Fruit Company, led by Gen. Christmas, effected a coup d'état against President Miguel R. The political instability consequent to the coup d'état stalled the Honduran economy, and the unpayable external debt ca. That financial deficit perpetuated Honduran economic stagnation and perpetuated the image of Honduras as a banana republic.
In the event, the U. Lee Christmas became commander of the Honduran army, and later was appointed U. Consul to the Republic of Honduras. Guatemala suffered the regional socio-economic legacy of the banana republic: The inequitable land distribution was an important cause of national poverty, and the concomitant sociopolitical discontent and insurrection.
Almost 90 percent of the country's farms are too small to yield adequate subsistence harvests to the farmers, while two percent of the country's farms occupy 65 percent of the arable land, the property of the local oligarchy.
During the s, the United Fruit Company sought to convince the governments of U. In the Cold War —91 context of the pro-active anti-communist politics exemplified by U. Senator Joseph McCarthy in the years —57, geo-political concerns about the security of the Western Hemisphere facilitated President Eisenhower's ordering and authorizing Operation Success, the Guatemalan coup d'état by means of which the U.
A mixed history of elected presidents and puppet-master military juntas were the governments of Guatemala in the course of the year Guatemalan Civil War — However, in , at the year mark, the Guatemalan people promulgated a new political constitution , and elected Vinicio Cerezo —91 president; then Jorge Serrano Elías — Reserved for itself the most succulent, The central coast of my own land, The delicate waist of the Americas.
It rechristened its territories As the "Banana Republics", And over the sleeping dead, Over the restless heroes Who brought about the greatness, The liberty and the flags,. Domestically, the corrupt national government of Macondo abets the business policies and labor practices of the foreign corporations, which brutally oppress the workers.
The protagonist, José Arcadio Segundo, has been organizing the workers of the banana plantations to jointly affect a work strike to protest the inhumane working conditions.
Martial law is imposed upon Macondo, and the workers respond by sabotaging the banana plantations. In unexpected response, the national government diplomatically invites more than 3, workers to meet with provincial leaders to resolve their labor-and-management differences.
The meeting is a deceit; the army surrounds the workers and methodically kill them with machine guns. Afterward, the three thousand corpses are collected onto a train and later dumped into the sea, to be forgotten. Meanwhile, the apparently dead José Arcadio Segundo also was loaded onto the coast-bound train of corpses, yet later escapes and walks back to Macondo.
To his horror, José Arcadio learns that all memory of the massacre has been eliminated, no-one in Macondo remembers the killing of three thousand workers. The townsfolk refuse to believe José Arcadio when he tells them of the massacre, which he survived.
Moreover, nature contributes to the oblivion with heavy, unrelenting rain that destroys the physical traces of the massacred workers. Woody Allen 's film Bananas depicted a fictional banana republic called San Marcos; the film is also named for this term. Countries that obtained independence from colonial powers in the 20th and 21st centuries have at times thereafter tended to share traits of banana republics due to influence of large private corporations in their politics,  for example; Maldives resort companies ,  the Philippines tobacco industry, American government and corporations.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the clothing store, see Banana Republic. For other uses, see Banana republic disambiguation. United States Intervention in Central America. Retrieved 24 June American Literary Realism, — The Making of a Banana Republic. The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World.
Retrieved 22 March — via Google Books.
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