Quite A Fruitful Discussion Blog #3

Going into the Foreign Policy Presentation, I knew that it was open ended, and I knew that I could do almost anything regarding foreign policy. Business has a large role in relations, and especially big business when they involve production overseas. There is a lot to be said regarding factories overseas, or purchasing resources from overseas, but most importantly farm work in 3rd-world countries. Many large fruit companies hire workers overseas because the rules aren’t as strict, and in some cases a large corporation can have significantly more power than a government. Because of how fast business is growing, I knew that United Fruit Company’s banana production expanding overseas had a lot to be said.


In the 1930s, United Fruit Company (now known as Chiquita) started to have banana plantations in Latin America. This really benefitted the US (greater revenue and more freedom), but really hurt Guatemala’s economy. Many of the Guatemalan residents blame United Fruit Company for the corruption. A Latin-American author, Marquez, said “Look at the mess that we have gotten ourselves into just because we invited a group of Gringos” in his novel 100 Years of Solitude.


Arevalo, the dictator at the time, responded by trying to restore the land for the Mayans (native people to the land). He attempted to redistribute the land that United Fruit Company owned and compensate them. However, United Fruit Company never stopped growing– they secretly bought out small farms in Guatemala in order to continue the cheap labor practices. The Guatemalan government stood no chance of being able to compete with United Fruit Company.


When I was doing research, I learned that government in third world countries is quite corrupt, and not just weak. The government had significantly less control than American business owners on Latin American soil. Focusing on United Fruit Company’s story, I learned that it is quite a dishonest company, and can control through money and manipulation. United Fruit Company’s voicemail system was hacked, and this revealed many of their largest secrets: problems regarding labor, pollution, cocaine, and other laws.There were 7 ships that were able to smuggle $33 million worth of cocaine. Eli Black, a shareholder of United Fruit Company, bribed the Honduran military and economic minister with $1.25 million to lower the export tax on bananas.


Bishop Gumbleton responded to this outrage by telling people not to accept donations from anything that had to do with United Fruit Company. He did not describe the money as generous donations, but instead- money earned off of the backs of peasants. United Fruit Company responded that they are simply trying to improve the ways of life in 3rd-world countries like Guatemala.
United Fruit Company’s story is one that is completely irreversible, and in my opinion, it is a story with a bad outcome. Guatemala has become reliant on United Fruit Company’s employment, and the farmers will never be able to support themselves. United Fruit Company is a perfect example of one of the many big businesses that is more powerful than a government. This kind of transition supports wealthy people in order to make them more wealthy, but it is more impossible for poor laborers to rise up.


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