Saturday, October 4, 2008

United Fruit Company in New Orleans


To anyone who understands Latin American history...this image in the heart of downtown New Orleans is sure to send chills. This is the facade of the old United Fruit Building, at 321 St. Charles Avenue. It sent me shivers, and motivation to find out more. The company had its headquarters in New Orleans from the 1930's to the 1970's. This is the same company that gave us the idea of the Banana Republic. This is the same company that urged the U.S. government to topple the democratically elected President Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954 because his leftist politics threatened the company's stake in the banana industry. A young Ernesto Guevarra was is Guatemala at the time and witnessed this violent event, forever changing his course, and Cuba's. This is the same company that inspired the banana massacre described in 100 Years of Solitude, based on actual events concerning bananas and politics. Those are just a few examples of how this multi-national corporation interfered with Latin America. This company is also the historical reason why so many Hondurans have come here. There was a pre-Katrina population, brought here by the company, that made it easier for post-Katrina immigrants to come work. It's all interconnected. This building is a little piece of dark, American history. It's a bank now. United Fruit Company is now Chiquita Bananas.

1 comment:

New Orleans Ladder said...

That building is haunted. I do not mean that as a funny thing. You have to sit on the front steps in the early hours when the city is quieter so you can listen. They are not happy ghosts. Serious business. If possible you might see if they'll let you explore during the day under the guise of doing a travel piece or something.
They did Guatemala the year after they did Iran. It was Kermit Roosevelt, who showed them how to do it on the cheap by proxy with thugs:
http://www.amazon.com/All-Shahs-Men-American-Middle/dp/0471265179
It worked so well in Iran they wasted no time for United Brands.
You are right on.
Of course this is what the Reagan Presidency was all about. Directly. Jimmy Carter had began withdrawing their funding. And, what went down during Reagan is Directly relevant to What's Going Down Now.
Reagan was the first president that I did not vote for. That is when they began to dismantle the Whitehouse. 2000 is when they began to reassemble it in their own image. Serious business. United Brands. No lie.
I have stood and looked at the building for hours.

Thanks for this post.
Editilla