May 25, 2007

Banana Republic

Banana Republic : A small country (especially in Central America) that is politically unstable and whose economy is dominated by foreign companies and depends on one export (such as bananas)

The perjorative term now used to describe a generally unstable or "backward" dictatorial regime, especially one where elections are often fraudulent and corruption is rife was coined by O. Henry (the American author of much loved short stories like "The gift of Magi", "The last leaf" and others) in reference to Honduras, a Central American nation. "Republic" in his time was often a euphemism for a dictatorship, while "banana" implied an easy reliance on basic agriculture and backwardness in the development of modern industrial technology.

Why bananas? Read on.....

Banana production first began in the Caribbean by smaller banana companies; until 1870 the bananas grown in the region were produced for local consumption. Once bananas hit the U.S. market they exploded in popularity and soon passed from being an exotic novelty to join apples, grapes, as the standard in U.S. fruit baskets. With the formation of the United Fruit Company by Keith Minor in 1900; banana growing was moved to Central America. United Fruit made several of these Central American nations into “banana republics”, countries that served as production platforms for the banana-exporting enterprise. The United Fruit Company became known throughout Latin America as “el pulpo” (the octopus) because of its far-reaching hand in economic power and political arrangements in its host country. The United fruit kept elected officials in their corporate pockets; they were able to acquire vast amounts of land and establish a banana monopoly.

Why Honduras? Read further.......

In Honduras the United Fruit company dominated the country's key banana export sector and support sectors such as railways. Sam Zemurray, a Russian by birth and later an American businessman (his parents emigrated to US when he was 14) entered the banana trade at the age of 18. By the age of 21, he had amassed considerable wealth but soon found himself in heavy debts. He left for Honduras when the country was working to reschedule its national debts. When US tax authorities did not help Zemurray, he smuggled the deposed Honduran president, Manuel Bonilla from US back to Honduras and a revolution was fought in 1910 that led to Bonilla's return to power. Bonilla granted Zemurray land concessions and low taxes that saved his business. Later, in 1933, Zemurray will take over United Fruit in a hostile bid .

Sources : http://www.answers.com/ , http://www.wikipedia.org/, http://dictionary.reference.com/

12 comments:

suramya said...

wow. a tale of treachery and cunning all hidden under two words, banana republic. lovely post moi,the etymology reminds me a bit of the back cover of a thriller :)

666 said...

interesting. good effort.

Moi said...

Su : I will not be surprised if the stories of multi-national corporates playing their games in Latin America are made into thriller novels and movies...Latin America seems to be North America's playground. The more I read, the more I am shocked at how unstable most of the continent is....

666: Thank you.

Radha said...

Have you read 'One hundred years of Solitude'?....its a brilliant book; but that was when I first looked up this phrase!

Moi said...

No radha, i haven't read that one ..have read his "Love in the time of cholera" and i think he's a brilliant insightful writer....I intend to pick up 100 yrs some day .....

yogsma said...

That's interesting..one Banana republic , I know was clothes and apparel stores which was acquired by GAP.

Moi said...

That's a Banana Republic too, Yogesh!!! :)

suramya said...

moi: its bad karma, what goes around comes around, mmmm, hopefully these companies will get their due someday

suramya said...

*countries

666 said...

ahhh such words of wisdom break my stupor..always knew the youngest was the wisest:-) attagirl Suramya

Well..well..I cannot really ratify karmic philosophy though I wouldnt mind learning more on it since its synchronous to what my thoughts on life et al are; however I am an ardent reader of Withcraft/Wiccan science. In Wicca, there is a fundamental three times energy rule which I believe to the hilt. Its a way of life for me really

It states that whatever energy we give out through our thoughts and actions traces itself back to us, albeit magnified three times. So if you do black magic to harm someone, it will rebound and hit you three times bad. Many practing witches have confirmed the stated tenet. If you sincerely bless someone with an intense force, my fella, one day those blessings will benedict thou amplified three times. And you will say you have been fortunate, lucky. Nopes you account for what you get in this life. Good, Bad, Worse, Ugly. Period.

God Blesss.

Moi said...

Su: karma!!!! hehe reminds me of goras (i know am not being politically correct) here mouthing the word.....but u r right what goes around, comes around!!!! though I wonder if i'll live to see these nations getting their due!!! :(


666 : hehe that was quite some waking up...havent seen such extensive commenting from u in days now... attagirl Su, really!!! hehe

suramya said...

666: I was aware of the three times energy rule and I completely believe it,though I was not aware of it mentioned in the Wicca science it has happened also, thats why I continue to follow the golden rule, do unto others as you wish them to do unto you.

moi: maybe if not in this life then the next and that depends on your karma :), I am still very hazy about the rebirth cycle so I am going to zip my mouth now :)