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.