Guatemala is a country marked by a long history of oppression and racism. Ever since the Spanish invation 1523 the Mayan people here have been persecuted, threatened and killed. A few landlords and politicians have had the power over the whole country. The Mayan people, who always lived and cultivated the land here suddenly got driven off their own land by greedy, powerful men, aiming to make more money on their poor fields. Today about 50% of the Guatemalan population lives in poverty. About 15% of the population lives in extreme poverty, and out of those about 70% are indigenous.

A couple of years ago Bill Clinton officially apologized the Guatemalan people for the suffer that his country had caused them during and after the coup d'état in the year of 1954. And this apalogy is the reason for my headline to this text. It's all about the connection between the US government, via CIA, and the United Fruit Company.

In 1944 2% of the land owners were in charge of 72% of the land in Guatemala. More than 75% of this land was not in use at that moment, while a lot of Guatemalan people were starving to death. The biggest owner of this land was United Fruit Company. They controlled both the railways and harbours in the country and 90% of all export went directly to the USA. Through not using a big part of the land, the land owners can make sure that they will get cheap labour to keep prices down. At the same time United Fruit Company didn't almost pay any taxes at all in Guatemala, they could import whatever they wanted without paying any duties AND, they had the right to kill their workers if they for example wanted to start a union.

But a coup 1944 changes all this. The people were tired of being opressed so they chose a new leader, the first democraticly chosen politician in the history of Guatemala. Through a change of political leader they also got a bit more power over their own lifes, among other things the new Guatemalan government bought all the unused land of the big companies and let the poor people lease it for their own survival. Those political changes, that helped about 100 000 families, lasted for about ten years. Those years are still talked about as the decade of democracy, the years of hope, and the best years in Guatamalan history.

But it ended abrupt in 1954 with a new coup. This time the coup that Clinton apologized for. United Fruit were loosing money, people started to find other jobs, they'd lost a lot of land and their private railway started to get concurrense by public constructed roads. What to do? They now happend to be connected to the CIA and therefore also the US government. A campaign started about Guatemala being a threat and a big Communist state. In Guatemala rumours were spread about secret actions made by the government, rumours, with a little help of weapons and money, that helped supporting the coup in 1954.

After that followed about forty years of Civil War in Guatemala. The Peace Agreements were signed in 1996. But as I said, still today about half the population live in poverty, the violence is increasing day by day and today only 2% of all the criminality is followed up with a punishment. 2%!!! And why? Because a state and a huge company didn't want to risk their monopoly and cheap labour...

In 1985 United Fruit Company changed name to Chiquita Brands International. So, is there still anyone wondering why I choose ecological and Fair Trade bananas instead of Chiquitas perfect yellow ones?

Postat av: juan

you see, This is an interesting fact, cuz i used to looooooove playing golf at the Del Monte Crops field in Morales, Izabal. As for today only 17% of the people control 78% of the farmland. Not to many changes, except that it is pretty much aaaaaallll being used now, of course, at a low tax rate. Chiquita Brands has been banned from Guatemala, and are not allowed to own farms in there, so they have been obligated to make it an import/export kindda thing. But until 1998, chiquita was still selling Guatemalan bananas exported to Costa Rica. Nowadays, it is easier for them to just take Costarican bananas instead. Cosechas Del Monte, took over the land and has made something different of it. Schools, houses, sports fields, a hospital, a center square and the best golf course in Guate, even became a small "municipio" called bananera. This crops are sold to Dole Fruit Co. which is in charge of worldwide distribution...

dont go for chiquita, but those ecological fair trade stunts??? Help us out a little, buy Dole...

2009-04-05 @ 03:43:24

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