United States: Banana republic or the United Fruit Company?

United States: Banana republic or the United Fruit Company?
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8 January 2021
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According to a report from the French agency AFP, the head of US diplomacy, Mike Pompeo, replied on Thursday to critics who compared U.S. with a banana republic after Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol.

Critics include, among others, former US President George W. Bush (2001-2009), who pointed out on Wednesday the “feckless behavior” of members his Republican Party for catalyzing the «uprising»: “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not in our democratic republic”, he added.

However, for US Secretary of State, a loyal supporter of Trump: “That slander reveals the wrong understanding of banana republics and democracy in the United States” and as he added on Twitter: “In a banana republic mob violence determines the exercise of power. In U.S., law enforcement officials quashed that violence so that the people’s representatives could exercise power according to the law and the constitutional government”.

It’s clear that Pompeo hasn’t forgotten the training courses offered by the CIA at the time it was under his command, in which, according to what he has publicly said, they learned to lie, cheat and steal.

A glance at Wikipedia is enough to know that: “The pejorative expression" banana republic "is used to describe a country that is considered politically unstable, impoverished, backward, third-world and corrupt, whose economy depends on a few products of low added value (symbolized by bananas), governed by a fraudulently legitimized dictator or a military junta, subjected to the hegemony of a foreign company, either through bribes to the rulers or through the exercise of financial power.

And in the chapter dedicated to the origin of the expression, the said encyclopedia adds:  

“The expression 'banana republic' was coined at the beginning of the 20th century by O. Henry, an American humorist and short story writer who spent several years in Central America, to refer to Honduras, a country where O. Henry took refuge after being accused of embezzlement in Austin, Texas. At that time, the term "republic" was also a euphemism for dictatorship. The expression could have also referred to Guatemala, which had agreements with the United Fruit Company, a company that basically controlled the country's economy.

“In the constitution of this small, maritime banana republic there was a forgotten section...

O. Henry, Cabbages and Kings, 1904

“Thus, the expression 'banana republic' was originally invented as a very direct reference to a 'servile dictatorship', which favors (or directly supports in exchange for bribes) the exploitation of plantation agriculture and monoculture on a large scale, without seeking to improve the living conditions of the country's inhabitants. The situation could be generalized to the rest of Central America and to the exploitation of its main product (banana or plantain) by the United Fruit Company, an American company that exerted huge influence on the internal policy of Central America from the end of the 19th century until the 1970s, either through the abuse of their economic power, threats of violence or bribes to rulers, and that even prepared a coup d'état supported by the CIA against Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz”.

In his capacity as former director of the CIA, a position he held before being appointed Secretary of State, Pompeo should know that neither in Guatemala, nor in other nations where the United States repeated the same experiment, "mob violence" determined the exercise of power, but rather the violence imposed by the US administrations of the moment with the complicity of the national bourgeoisies.

Something quite similar, by the way, is what the dictator who he represents has tried to do, by trying to use the dissatisfaction of the mobs as a spearhead to achieve a change in the results of the elections of the nation that until yesterday called itself as the most democratic in the world.

As he rightly said, regarding the assault on the Capitol by Trump's "barbarians", Puerto Rican singer and musician René Pérez: "The United States just needs a little slower Wi-Fi so that they can join us in the third world ...”.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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