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The history of banana growing in Central America is closely tied to the history of politics in the same area from the 1880's through the 1970's. Prior to 1870, bananas were unknown in the United States . The first bananas were imported to the U.S. in 1870 and just 28 years later, Americans in the U.S. were consuming over 16 million bunches a year. The story begins in 1871 with the construction of a railroad in Costa Rica by an industrious 23 year old from Brooklyn named Minor Keith. The project cost hundreds of lives, including the lives of his two brothers. Keith was a man who would do anything to advance his own interests. He even married the daughter of the Costa Rican President. His efforts paid off and eventually he earned the title  "The Uncrowned King of Central America ".

While Keith was building the railroad in Costa Rica he was also executing a much bigger plan. As construction progressed, he planted bananas on the land easements to either side of the tracks. The bananas flourished and with the railroad completed it was possible to economically transport the bananas to eager markets in the United States and Europe . Ten years later, Keith owned three banana companies. Keith then joined up with a Cape Cod sailor, Captain Lorenzo Baker and a Boston businessman, Andrew Preston. Together they raised the money to found the Boston Fruit Company. In 1899, the Boston Fruit Company and the United Fruit Company (UFCO) merged, thus forming the largest banana company in the world with plantations in Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and Santo Domingo. They also owned eleven steamships, known as the Great White Fleet plus 30 other ships rented or leased. The company also owned 112 miles of railroad linking the plantations with ports.

In 1901, Guatemalan dictator, Manuel Estrada Cabrera granted to UFCO the exclusive right to transport postal mail between Guatemala and the U.S. This was UFCO's first entry into Guatemala . Ruled by a right-wing dictator who would do anything UFCO wanted, Minor Keith judged Guatemala to have "an ideal investment climate". He formed the Guatemalan Railroad Company as a subsidiary of UFCO and capitalized it at $40 million. He contracted with Cabrera to build a railroad between Guatemala City and Puerto Barrios. UFCO also obtained permission to purchase lots in Puerto Barrios at a nominal price and received a grant of land one mile long by 500 yards wide on either side of the municipal pier. Keith also negotiated the contract to build telegraph lines from the capital to Puerto Barrios.

Other countries in Central and South America also fell under the thrall of the mighty UFCO, also called "yunai" or "La Frutera" or "El Pulpo" (the octopus) in Latin America, but none were more under UFCO's thumb than Guatemala . United Fruit's Guatemalan operation generated about 25 percent of the company's total production. In Guatemala , United Fruit gained control of virtually all means of transport and communications. United Fruit charged a tariff on every item of freight that moved in and out of the country via Puerto Barrios. For many years, the coffee growers of Guatemala paid very high tariffs and the price of Guatemalan coffee on the world market was high because of this.

The capital of the United Fruit Company empire was in Guatemala , in the town of Bananera , where it made its headquarters. From here it master-minded its empire and corrupted every level of government and politics in Guatemala . United Fruit also managed to exempt itself from virtually all taxes for 99 years. UFCO had its fingers in almost every pie in Guatemala . UFCO had the unconditional support of right-wing dictators who maintained their power by terrorizing the people and arresting prominent citizens who were either killed on the spot or tortured in prison to extract confessions. During one wave of repression under Jorge Ubico, hundreds were killed in just two days.

In 1944, the people of Guatemala overthrew the right-wing dictator then in power, Jorge Ubico. Guatemala held its first true elections in history. They elected Dr. Juan Jose Arevalo Bermej to the presidency. A new constitution was drawn up, based on the U.S. Constitution. Arevalo was a socialist and an educator who built over 6,000 schools in Guatemala and made great progress in education and health care.

At this time in Guatemala , just 2.2 percent of the population owned over 70 percent of the country's land. Only 10 percent of the land was available for 90 percent of the population, most of whom were Indians. Most of the land held by the large landowners was unused. Arevalo was succeeded in another free election by Jacobo Arbenz who continued the reform process begun under Arevalo. Arbenz proposed to redistribute some of the unused land and make it available for the 90 percent to farm. Here is where the problem arose: United Fruit was one of the big holders of unused land in Guatemala . The pressure mounted against UFCO and finally the company complained to the many friends it had within the U.S. government including President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, saying that Guatemala had turned communist.

The U.S. State Department and United Fruit embarked on a major public relations campaign to convince the American people and the rest of the U.S. government that Guatemala was a Soviet "satellite".

"It [United Fruit] began with enviable connections to the Eisenhower administration. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his former New York law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell, had long represented the company. Allen Dulles, head of the CIA, had served on UFCO's board of trustees. Ed Whitman, the company's top public relations officer, was the husband of Ann Whitman, President Eisenhower's private secretary. (Ed Whitman produced a film, "Why the Kremlin Hates Bananas," that pictured UFCO fighting in the front trenches of the cold war.) The fruit firm's success in linking the taking of its lands to the evil of international communism was later described by one UFCO official as "the Disney version of the episode." But the company's efforts paid off. It picked up the expenses of journalists who traveled to Guatemala to learn United Fruit's side of the crisis, and some of the most respected North American publications - including the New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, and New Leader - ran stories that pleased the company. A UFCO public relations official later observed that his firm helped condition North American readers to accept the State Department's version of the Arbenz regime as Communist-controlled and the U.S.-planned invasion as wholly Guatemalan."  (Quoted from Inevitable Revolutions - The United States in Central America by Walter La Feber, 2nd ed. 1993, pp. 120-121.

The campaign succeeded and in 1954 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated a coup, code-named "Operation PBSUCCESS". The invading force numbered only 150 men under the command of Castillo Armas but the CIA convinced the Guatemalan public and President Arbenz that a major invasion was underway. The CIA set up a clandestine radio station to carry propaganda, jammed all Guatemalan stations, and hired skilled American pilots to bomb strategic points in Guatemala City. The U.S. replaced the freely elected government of Guatemala with another right-wing dictatorship that would again bend to UFCO's will.

The history of Guatemala since the Spanish conquest is one of continuous domination and repression. For a brief ten years from 1944 to 1954, Guatemala experienced the fresh air of democracy. However, with a right-wing dictatorship back in power, Guatemala was thrown back into the dark ages and the stage was set for the next 30 years of repression and killing. As part of their efforts in the coup, the CIA made a list of 70,000 "questionable individuals". During Guatemala 's 36 year civil war that just came to an end this year (1996), the government often referred to this list originally put together by the CIA.

As is always the case, opinions can be found on both sides of the question of whether United Fruit was a benefit or a scourge to Central America . The company certainly brought a great deal of economic development and organization to a region that had very little of either. The United Fruit Company paid its full-time employees better than any other, built housing and schools for the children of its employees, built hospitals and research laboratories. From early on the company embarked on vigorous research projects to conquer tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Their laboratories also worked very hard to conquer the specialized diseases of the banana plant. In Costa Rica , whole areas of bananas were wiped out by disease and the laboratories of United Fruit developed specialized insecticides and fungicides to halt the problem. Some of these laboratories are still at work today.

United Fruit brought tangible benefits to the countries where it operated, but also brought problems or perpetuated existing ones. For the legions of seasonal workers in the fields, life was very hard. Conditions were physically dangerous and the toxic chemicals used on the banana plants were a constant hazard. Malaria and dengue fever were a constant danger as well. The field workers for UFCO were paid more than on other farms but the work was seasonal and annually amounted to very little. United Fruit staunchly opposed any attempts at the formation of unions. It would abandon entire areas if unionism started to gain a foothold. When it abandoned an area it would tear down the housing and schools it had built leaving the area destitute. The company also practiced institutionalized racism. In company towns like Morales/Bananera and Puerto Barrios non-whites were forced to yield right-of-way to whites. The whole concept of a "banana republic" was exemplified by the conditions in Guatemala from 1920 through 1944. The government worked very closely with United Fruit to maintain the highly stratified, fiefdom-like social structure of Guatemala so as to provide a plentiful supply of cheap labor. UFCO didn't create this social structure but worked to amplify it and perpetuate it.

United Fruit later changed its name to United Brands and then ran into financial difficulties during the 1970's. UFCO's lands were bought by the Del Monte Corporation which now operates the former holdings of United Fruit but no longer engages in the political and social manipulations of the past.

P. Landmeier © 1997


For additional reading on the history of the United Fruit Company: click here.

For more information and declassified documentation of U.S. involvement in Guatemala , see the following:

CIA involved in Guatemala coup, 1954

The National Security Archive (George Washington University)

Anthony S. Harrington, Chairman; General Lew Allen, Jr., USAF (Ret.);
Ann Z. Caracristi; Harold W. Pote [ed. this is a detailed article but
will give an idea of what the CIA has been up to more recently]

CIA's drug smuggling reason enough to dissolve it

Is the CIA necessary?



United fruit


Jacobo Arbenz

Jacobo Arbenz

Carlos Castillo

Carlos Castillo

Ernesto Ché Guevara

Ernesto Ché Guevara

Jorge Eliécer Gaitán

Jorge Eliécer Gaitán

Minor Cooper Keith

Minor Cooper Keith

Thomas McCann

Thomas McCann

Andrew Preston

Andrew Preston

Thomas E. Sunderland

Thomas E. Sunderland

Samuel Zemurray

Samuel Zemurray

Marcelo Bucheli

Marcelo Bucheli

Ian William Read

Ian William Read

Scholar Biographies

Scholar Biographies







Jan. 19.Minor Copper Keith is born in Brooklyn, New York


Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker buys 160 bunches of bananas in Jamaica for a shilling per bunch and sells them in Jersey City for $2 each. After this success he and the Bostonian entrepreneur Andrew Preston join efforts to develop a banana market in Boston.


Keith travels to Costa Rica to work on a railroad project his uncle Henry Meiggs was building for the national government


Keith, when looking for cheap food for his workers, plants banana trees adjacent to his railroad tracks.


Extremely difficult working conditions pay a high toll on Keith's workers. Nearly 5,000 men die, including Meiggs. Keith takes charge of the project.


Samuel Zmurri is born in Besarabia, Russia. When immigrating to the United States he changes his name to Samuel Zemurray.


Baker and Preston establish the Boston Fruit Company as Americans increase their demand for fruit. Preston takes charge of tropical enterprises while Baker controls management in Boston.


After facing incredible difficulties, Keith finishes the railroad from San Jose to Puerto Limon. However, the low number of passengers using the train made it unprofitable. Keith decides to use it to export bananas from the plantations he had created in the early 1870s. The first shipments proves to be a great success.


Young Samuel Zemurray arrives to the United States from Besarabia. He settles with his family in Selma, Alabama


Zemurray enters in the banana business marketing the fruit in Mobile, Alabama


Keith purchases a 50% of the share in the Snyder Banana Co. which produces bananas on 6,000 acres at Bocas del Toro, Panama.


April-December: Spanish-American war. The United States defeats Spain and occupies Cuba and Puerto Rico.


Keith's bank, Hoadley and Company, goes bankrupted. Keith loses $1.5 million. In order to solve his difficult financial situation, Keith goes to Boston and arranges with Andrew Preston a merger of his company and the Boston Fruit Company. Prior to the negotiation Preston, Baker, and Keith control 75% of the banana market in the U.S. In March 30th, they establish the United Fruit Company.

April. The newly already incorporated United Fruit Company acquires seven independent companies that have been operating in Honduras.

The Sicilian immigrant Joseph, Luca, and Felix Vaccaro and Salvador D'Antoni begin importing bananas to New Orleans from La Ceiba, Honduras.


The Vaccaro Brothers import 6,000 stems of bananas into New Orleans beginning a successful banana import business independent from United Fruit.


The government of Guatemala hires United Fruit Company to manage the country's national post service.

Elders & Fyffes Co. is established in Great Britain with the purpose of shipping and distributing of Jamaican bananas within the United Kingdom. With British government support, the company becomes a formidable competitor.


The Hubbard-Zemurray Company is established in New Orleans.


After a series of weather catastrophes and financial problems, plus strong competition from United Fruit, the directors of Elders & Fyffes decide to sell part of its stock to the American company. United Fruit eventually acquires 50% of Elders & Fyffes stock opening and opens a door to the European market.

The plant disease known as "Panama Disease" appears for the first time in United Fruit's plantations in Panama. The disease attacks the plant's trees roots cutting off the water supply. Thousands of acres of banana plantations had to be abandoned.

United Fruit launches the S.S. Venus, the first refrigerated produce boat.

November. Separatist groups in the Colombian state of Panama declare independence. The US government, in support of the separatists, sends part of its Navy to prevent the Colombian government from recovering the state. As soon as Panama's independence is assured, the US obtains sovereignty of a strip of land in which it plans on building an interoceanic canal.

United States troops intervene in Honduras.

United States troops intervene in the Dominican Republic.


Guatemalan dictator Manuel Estrada Cabrera grants United Fruit a ninety-nine year concession to construct and maintain the country's main rail line from Guatemala City to Puerto Barrios


Zemurray goes to Honduras to study the possibility of creating his own banana export corporation.


United Fruit purchases 50% of the shares of the Vaccaro Brothers Company which had operated in Honduras. Vaccaro had organized export plantations in that country as part of a contract to build a railway between La Ceiba and the interior of the country.

The United States Army invades Cuba. The American occupation government remains until 1909.

The Vaccaro Brothers incorporate their banana import business in New Orleans.


United States troops invade Nicaragua and establish a protectorate in the country.

United States troops land in Honduras during the war with Nicaragua.


Through the Anti-trust legislation the American government forces United Fruit to sell its Vaccaro shares.


The United States Army invades Nicaragua.


With a loan of two thousand dollars Zemurray buys five thousand acres along the Cuyamel River in Honduras to establish plantations. Soon after Zemurray purchases the land, he discovers that the Honduran President, Miguel Davila, would not grant him the tax, land, and transportation concessions that he was seeking. With this disappointment in mind, Zemurray decides to organize and finance a military coup that would replace Davila with Manuel Bonilla. Slipping past US agents sent by Secretary of State Philander C. Knox, Zemurray's expedition sails from New Orleans. The expedition is composed of one small ship captained by Lee Christmas and Guy "Machine Gun" Molony and one box of arms. Within weeks after Christmas and Molony arrive at the port of Trujillo, the government falls and Davila is replaced by Bonilla. The new President awards Zemurray generously and grants him the contracts he needs to incorporate the Hubbard-Zemurray Company in Honduras. The new company would soon become a serious competitor to United Fruit..

United Fruit buys the remaining Elders & Fyffes stock. Elders & Fyffes acquires 8,000 acres of banana lands in the Canary Islands.

The "Panama Disease" appears in the banana plantations of Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.


The Hubbard-Zemurray Company changes its name to Cuyamel Fruit Company


Keith's Guatemala Railroad Company becomes The International Railways of Central America (IRCA)

After a fierce price competition against the United Fruit Company, the Atlantic Fruit Company declares bankrupcy. Atlantic had been United Fruit main competitor in Costa Rica; after the bankruptcy United Fruit takes control of the country's banana exports.

The United States Army sends troops to Cuba.

The United States marines land in Panama during the presidential elections.

The United States Army intervenes in Honduras.


United Fruit gets two railway and land concessions in Honduras. They are managed by the company's subsidiaries the Tela Railroad Company and the Truxillo Railroad Company. These concessions allow the company to begin to produce bananas in large scale in Honduras. Concessions include 162,000 hectares of land from which 71,000 were granted in change of the railroad construction.

The Senate Finance Committee of the United States includes bananas in the proposed Underwood-Simmons Tariff. Bananas would be taxed at five cents a bunch. This initiative faces strong opposition from the New York Times, the Tariff Reform Committee of the Reform Club, The Banana Buyers' Protective Association, and the Housewives' League. The lobby made by these organizations eventually succeeds and the US government permits the tax free import of bananas to continue.


The United States Navy fights against rebels in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The United States Army invades Haiti.


Zemurray's company becomes United Fruit biggest competitor.

Standard Fruit buys most of the ice factories in New Orleans. The ice was needed to refrigerate the banana ships. After this, the company's president Joseph Vaccaro became known as the "Ice King."

The United States Army invades Haiti.


The United States Army invades the Dominican Republic.


The United States Army invades Cuba. The American occupation lasts until 1933.

The US War Trade Board proposes a complete embargo on bananas in order to free the United Fruit and Standard Fruit ships for military purposes. The embargo plan was eventually dropped.


The workers of the banana plantations in Northern Colombia go on strike. They demand six-day labor week and eight-hour labor day plus health care. The strike does not succeed.

The United States Army intervenes in Panama and keeps a police force in the country.


The United States marines land in Honduras during presidential campaign.


The United States Army lands in Guatemala and fights for two weeks against the so-called unionists.


Improvements in banana-drying technology encourage United Fruit to promote consumption of dried banana chips. The company wanted to use this as a way to market discarded bananas or plantains.


The song "Yes, We Have No Bananas" by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn reaches incredibly high levels of popularity, selling 25,000 copies a day. Afterwards, Silver tours the country with his Banana Band.


The Vaccaro Brothers re-organize their old company and establish the Standard Fruit Company

November 7. The Guatemalan government gives a concession to the United Fruit for all the uncultivated lands in a 100 kilometers territory.

Dr. Sidney Haas makes it public that bananas are a good cure for children suffering from celiac disease. United Fruit used this finding to promote banana consumption in the following decades.

United Fruit subsidiary Fruit Dispatch Company publishes a recipe book promoting the consumption of bananas with dry cereal, suggesting in particular corn flakes with bananas and milk. This combination proved to be an incredible success among consumers. In the following years cereal companies made deals with United Fruit to advertise this new breakfast. One of them was to include a coupon for bananas in cereal boxes.

The United States Army intervenes in Honduras during elections.


The United States Army lands in Panama during a general strike.


The Vaccaros change their company from Standard Fruit Company into the Standard Fruit and Steamship Company.


The Guatemalan government establishes a $14,000 annual rent for the 100 kilometers it gave to United Fruit in 1924.

United Fruit purchases the California-Guatemala Fruit Corporation which exported fruit from the Guatemalan Pacific Coast to Western USA


The workers of the banana plantations in Colombia go on strike in December. They demand written contracts, eight-hour days, six-day weeks and the elimination of food coupons. The strike turns into the largest labor movement ever witnessed in the country and radical members of the Liberal Party and members of the Socialist and Communist Parties participate strongly. The national labor union bigwigs Carlos Mahecha and Maria Cano traveled to the banana zone to organize the strike. They counted with the help of Italian and Spanish anarchist immigrants for this.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez is born in Aracataca, a town in the banana zone of Magdalena, Colombia.


January (Colombia). The banana worker strike continues and gets national attention since it is supported by the Liberal Party. The Conservative Party, which controls the government, decides to send the Army into the Banana Zone. During a demonstration in the main plaza of the city of Cienaga the Army, commanded by Carlos Cortes Vargas fires on the strikers and leaves an undetermined (and disputed) number of strikers dead. The government declares a state of siege in the Banana Zone and the strike eventually ends. One Liberal politician, Jorge Eliecer Gaitan denounces the government's action at the National Congress, on the radio, and public speeches. Gaitan's denounciations help undermine the Conservative Party's reputation and the party is defeated in the next year's election.

May 1st (Honduras): The Communist Party creates the Federacion Obrera HondureÐa. This federation creates "Action Committees" among the banana workers.

November: After an unsuccessful price war against Zemurray's Cuyamel Fruit Company, United Fruit decides to buy Zemurray out. United Fruit sells Zemurray $31,500,000 in the company's stocks in exchange for all Cuyamel stock. Zemurray becomes the biggest shareholder of United Fruit.

United Fruit's subsidiary, Fruit Dispatch, hires a group of consultants to do a market research on American banana consumption. The consultants' results says that bananas were consumed by a large sector of the country's middle class and were considered the perfect food for babies. After this report, United Fruit doubled Fruit Dispatch's advertisement budget and begins an aggressive campaign in national newspapers and magazines targeted to middle class families.

Fruit Dispatch establishes the Education Department in addition to the Advertising Department. The Education Department prints educational materials for classroom use promoting banana consumption.


Louisiana's governor Huey Long denounces Samuel Zemurray in the U.S. Senate for being involved in corrupted businesses in Central America

July (Honduras): The Action Committees of the Federacion Obrera HondureÐa organize a strike in the banana plantations. The strike has little support from the workers and is cracked down easily.


April (Honduras): The government declares martial law on the north coast after workers attack military barracks at Trujillo and Tela. The rebellion is orchestrated by former Secretary of War General Gregorio Ferrera.

June (Honduras): Ferrera's rebellion ends with his dead in a skirmish with Government troops.


The United Fruit transfers its railroad in Colombia to the national government which, in turn, leases it to the company for thirty years more.

Honduras: Labor unrest among United Fruit workers follow the company's decision to fire 800 workers.
Guatemala: Juan Pablo Wainwright, leader of the 1930 banana workers' strike in Honduras, is assassinated.

The United States Navy intervenes in the Marti Revolt, El Salvador.


During the first years of the Great Depression the shares' price of United Fruit fall dramatically and its profits decrease from $44.6 million in 1932 to 6.2 in 1932. The members of the board of directors vote to name Zemurray general director of the company. Two weeks later the price of the company's stock doubles. Zemurray's first move is to replace the existing tropical managers with experienced managers and former employees of Cuyamel. He also improves transport and intra-company communication while reorganizing the company with a clear hierarchy of employeespecialization.

During the 1930s Zemurray uses his fortune in several philanthropic works such as a large donation to the New Orleans Child Guidance Clinic and financial backing of The Nation magazine


Anastasio Somoza takes power in Nicaragua. His family continues to rule until the late 1970s.


An epidemy of Sigatoka (a fungus that attacks the leaves of the banana plant and causes the fruit to ripen prematurely) appears in Standard Fruit's Honduras plantations and threatens to wipe out the entire crop. The companies begin large-scale spraying programs. The first experiments with Bourdeaux mixture (made up of copper sulfate, hydrated lime, and water) prove to be successful at controlling the disease but extremely expensive.


United Fruit Company signs an ninety-nine year concession with Guatemala President General Jorge Ubico and opens its second plantation in the country in the region of Tiquisate.


United Fruit merges with Minor Keith's International Railways of Central America (IRCA)


United Fruit's Home Economics Department publishes the school teacher manual entitled "A Study of the Banana: The Everyday Use and Food Value." The manual gave a detailed description of the food value of bananas and gave suggestions of preparation. The success of this manual led the company to publish other school manuals in the following years for elementary to high-school students.


Samuel Zemurray, President of the United Fruit, establishes the Escuela Agricola Panamericana in Honduras. The institution is intended to be a free higher-education school financed by the company specialized in agricultural research, and attended by Central American students.


During World War II United Fruit reduces its operations to the minimum level because of the presence of German submarines in the Caribbean.


United Fruit hires cartoonist Dik Browne (the creator of Hagar the Horrible) to create a cartoon based on the Latin American singer and movie star Carmen Miranda. The cartoon was baptized as Miss Chiquita Banana and was part of the advirtisement campaign the company was preparing for when the war was over.


Juan Jose Arevalo takes power as the new President of Guatemala. He pushes United Fruit to improve the working conditions at its plantations. The company makes some concessions after a series of strikes from its workers.

The character of Miss Chiquita Banana debuts in the technicolor movie advertisement "Miss Chiquita Banana's Beauty Treatment" in which she sings to revive an exhausted houwewife.


The Guatemalan government establishes a Labor Code. The company denounces it as "Communistic" and threatens to leave Guatemala. The code forces the company to make further concessions to the workers in the strikes that followed.


Samuel Zemurray lets one of the company's ships to participate in the settlement of Jews in Palestine after the war. The ship was re-baptized with the name of Exodus and carried the first wave of Jewish immigrants to the Middle East


Senators Claude Pepper (Florida), Alexander Wiley (Wisconsin), and Mike Mansfield (Montana) accuse the Guatemalan government of failing to safeguard United Fruit's businesses in that country.

January (Honduras): After being the dictator of Honduras for thirteen years, President Juan Vicente CarÕas voluntarily gives the presidency to his vice-President and former lawyer of United Fruit, Juan Manuel Galvez. Galvez restores guarantees to political exiles and begins social reforms. Many exiles return to the country and this reinforces his opposition. Yet even under Galvez, the left-wing newspapers kept criticizing the governmental concessions given to United Fruit.

Honduras: During Galvez's government the Honduran Congress passes labor regulations for children and women and establishes an eight-hour working day. This is a monumental change in Honduras' labor laws.


Nobel-awarded Chilean writer Pablo Neruda publishes his epic work "Canto General" about the history of Latin America. One of its chapters is entitled "The United Fruit Company."


Jacobo Arbenz wins the Presidential election in Guatemala and promises to change the agrarian structure of the country.


The Guatemalan Congress approves the Decree 900, the Agrarian Reform Act.


Using the Agrarian Reform Act Arbenz government declares that 209,842 acres of uncultivated lands of United Fruit should be expropriated and distributed to landless peasants. The Guatemalan government promises the company an indemnification of $627,572 in governmental bonds. The value of this indemnification was based on the company's declared tax value of the land. During this year Zemurray hires a public relations company to begin an aggressive campaign against Arbenz in the American media.

Standard Fruit introduces the first experimental plantings and shipments of the Panama Disease resistant Cavendish-type banana. This type eventually adapted by United Fruit to replace the Gross Michel type in the 1960s.


April 20. United States Secretary of State John Foster Dulles sends a protest note to Arbenz declaring that the idemnification value calculated by the Guatemalan government was not fair. Arbenz, however, continued with his Agrarian Reform Program. Dulles calls John Peurifoy, the American ambassador in Guatemala, to get detailed information of the Guatemalan situation. Peurifoy said to the Congress that Guatemala was spreading "Marxist tentacles" in Central America.

Zemurray approves the publication of a book called "Report on Guatemala" which claimed that Arbenz Agrarian Reform had been planned in Moscow. The book was distributed to Congressmen

March. The Conference of the Organization of American States in Caracas finishes with a resolution in which the member countries show their concern about the "Communistic infiltration" in the continent.

May: Arbenz proposes a non-aggression treaty to Honduras. The Honduras government refuses.

June, 18. Using military bases in Nicaragua Guatemalan Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas attacks Guatemala in what his supporters called "the Liberation war against Communism." The operation was backed by all the other Central American governments and the United States. Castillo succeeded at forcing Arbenz to go on exile and immediately ended the legal actions against United Fruit under the Agrarian Reform Law. Twenty-five year old Argentinean Ernesto Guevara (later known as el "Che") witnesses the coup and becomes convinced that radical changes in Latin America are only possible through an armed revolution. Guevara is living in Guatemala at the time working as a doctor and book-seller and he volunteers to organize resistance militias against Castillo's army. When facing an inevitable defeat he later escapes from Guatemala to Mexico where he meets another political refugee who will become one of his closest friends: Cuban Fidel Castro.

July 2. A US Court begins legal action against the United Fruit Company for violating the Sherman Anti-trust Act and the Wilson Act.

July 13. United States President Dwight Eisenhower gives official recognition to Castillo's government.

July 19. Castillo establishes the National Committee of Defense Against Communism to seek out any remaining of Arbenz supporters. He also sets back the labor laws created under Arbenz government.

Arbenz begins his long exile in Mexico, France, Switzerland, Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Uruguay, and Mexico.

May 5. The workers of the United Fruit Company go on strike demanding higher wages and are followed by the Standard Fruit workers. This strike paralyzes all banana operations and peaks with 25,000 striking workers (around 15% of all the country's labor force)

May 7: United Fruit manager J. F. Aycock declares that the company would not negotiate as long as the workers are on strike. That day, the strike expands to La Ceiba, Standard Fruit center of operations. Contrary to United Fruit, Standard offers to negotiate with striking workers.

By the second week of May 11,000 Standard Fruit Company employees join the strike. Simultaneously, laborers in others sector of the economy go on strike too, including miners, brewers, and textile workers.

May 16: The strikers present their "pliego de peticiones" to manager Aycock in La Lima. They quote the Universal Declarations of the Rights of Man and demand an increase in wages. At the same time, the workers of Coca-Cola in La Ceiba and Puerto Cortes strike.

Shortly after the protests began, the Honduran President Manuel Galvez expels two Guatemalan consuls charging them of instigation.

May 9. The American ambassador in Honduras says that the country's strike had been inspired by Guatemalan communists. In addition, U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles suggests that Guatemala Arbenz's government might be behind the Honduran strike.

May 18: Standard Fruit opens negotiations with the workers under governmental arbitration. The company agrees to increase wages and improve working conditions, making this the first time in Honduran history that a private corporation negotiates a collective agreement. The workers committed themselves to go back to work on May 21.

May 21: After the Standard Fruit workers go back to work, the United Fruit workers harden their position. The number of strikers increases to 100,000 United Fruit.

May 25: A governmental commission arrives to La Lima and is accepted as an intermediate by both the workers and management of United Fruit.

May 31: Breakdown in the talks between United Fruit and the strikers.

June 5: The workers try to create a new delegation to negotiate, but United Fruit tells the Honduran media its opposition to further negotiations. In the weeks to follow the strikers' peaceful attitude win them the sympathy of the Honduran media, politicians, and even Henry Wallace, a former US Vice-President.

July 9. The banana workers' strike in Honduras ends. Although the strikers do not manage to get what they initially wanted, the company does change the working conditions and the government is forced to create a more progressive labor legislation. The workers demanded a wage increase of 72% but only won a 21% raise. The company also agrees to provide medical care for the workers' families.

A hurricane hits the Honduran plantations and United Fruit fires 10,000 workers


Between 1955 and 1962 United Fruit published around 15 million pieces of literature for students in elementary grades through high school to promote the learning of bananas and the health benefits of their consumption. These manuals were also distributed in schools around the world.


The Senate's Select Committee on Small Business, undertakes a investigation of "the problems of small business" and calls on United Fruit to testify on its commercial distribution of bananas within the US. The State Department immediately requests that the Senate hearings be closed to the public and press. It explains that "distorted or sensational reporting of these hearings in the Latin American press might reflect unfavorably on a large American company having extensive operations in the area, and might easily be used by the Communists for propaganda purposes to damage the prestige of the United States." Several days later, however, the State Department finds "nothing objectionable" and allows the release of the transcripts to the press.


The US government's anti-trust against the company is finally settled. The United Fruit Company agrees to sign a consent decrees that allows the company to admit to no wrongdoing but still allows the government to force several important changes to the structure of the company. The largest change facing the company is that it has to carve out a competitor, from its own holding, by 1970, will be one third of its current size. It begins by selling its Guatemala holdings to both Standard Fruit and to Guatemalan entrepreneurs. United Fruit also sells Meloripe and Banana Selling Corporation, its two large American fruit distributing subsidiaries, to private banana jobbing firms. The lawsuit, at least symbolically, marks the decline of the fruit company.

United Fruit does, however, expand its business in other directions by acquiring the rights to explore petroleum and natural gas in Colombia, Panama, and Ecuador.

November. Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba after a successful guerrilla war against President Fulgencio Batista. Batista leaves the country.


Fidel Castro begins his agrarian reform and seizes the sugar properties of United Fruit in that country.

Thomas Sunderland becomes the new President of the United Fruit Company. His main goals are to reduce cost and effectively handle the changes brought about by the increased competition of the Standard Fruit Company and the Ecuadorian corporations. He also has to handle the drastic changes following the consent decree. Sunderland begins to promote the larger sized Cavendish banana over the Gros Michel, and the company begins to transport the bananas in cardboard boxes instead of free bunches. He also pushes the Chiquita brand-name by having labels placed on the bananas.

The second half of the 1950s witnesses a process of divestiture of the company. Slowly, the company has removed itself from directly growing bananas on its plantations and has concentrated on marketing its bananas.

A lawsuit against the United Fruit Company is filed in a New York state court. The court rules that the fruit company had forced its partly owned subsidiary, International Railways of Central America (IRCA), into setting prices that had only favored its own banana transportation. The prices had been set too low, harming IRCA and its American shareholders. A verdict is passed in 1959 and United Fruit has to pay $4.5 million in damages to IRCA's shareholders.


Nov. 2. The first serious strike of the banana workers in Panama. The workers of the Bocas del Toro Division demand higher wages and better working conditions. Shortly after they are joined by the Armuelles workers. The strikers paralyze all the export activities for two months. United Fruit gives recognition to the elected union leaders as the workers' legitimate representatives.


A group of Cuban exiles unsuccessfully attempts to invade Cuba and depose Fidel Castro.


United Fruit provides American school teachers with a package that included student lesson sheets on bananas and the Central American countries, a folder of banana recipes, a wall chart, a sound motion picture, a film-strip, and an eight-page teacher's manual on how to get and use these aids. This educational material was recommended for geography, history, social studies, health and nutrition, elementary and general science and biology classes. The kit had a cost of $4.

United Fruit creates the individual banana sticker label. The small blue stickers with the Chiquita logo are affixed to the fruit and the company makes a strong advertisement campaign to promote the consumption of its branded banana.

Colombian writer Alvaro Cepeda Samudio publishes his novel "La Casa Grande" inspired in the banana workers strike of 1929 in Magdalena, Colombia.


Herbert Cornuelle becomes the new President of the United Fruit Company. He begins a process of diversification of United Fruit's investments in order to reduce its dependence on bananas. During this process the company acquires A&W Root Beer Company, Foster Grant.

Fulton City, Kentucky, celebrates the first International Banana Festival sponsored by Standard Fruit and Dole (with no participation of United Fruit), and declares itself the Banana Capital of the United States. The festival includes cultural and artistic expressions of banana exporting countries, a carnival and a beauty contest (the International Banana Princess). The event is praised by President Kennedy and President Johnson as an important manifestation of friendship among the peoples of the Americas and counted on the active help of the Alliance for Progress.


Castle and Cook buys the Vaccaro family (owner of Standard Fruit).


The United States Army sends troops to the Dominican Republic during its election campaign.


AMK, originally a producer of milk-bottle caps, acquires a third of the common shares of John Morrell & Company, a meat packer. By the end of that year, AMK acquires John Morrell completely. AMK's President Eli Black begins an aggressive campaign to dominate the American food market.

United Fruit builds a banana puree factory in Honduras in order to find a market for discarded bananas. The factory has a limited success in the following years, and has to wait until the 1980s to see acceptable results. Banana puree is used in ice-creams, eggnog, and yogurt.


After its acquisition of the West Indies Fruit Company, Del Monte Corporation enters in the international banana business.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez publishes the first edition of "Cien AÐos de Soledad" (One Hundred Years of Solitude) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Part of the novel is inspired on the strike of the Colombian banana workers against United Fruit in 1929.

Castle & Cooke Corporation wholly acquires the Standard Fruit and Steamship Company.

United Fruit distributes 90,000 full-color illustrated recipe cards for Chiquita banana and peanut butter sandwiches to schools in the United States, promoting these sandwiches for lunch.




Sept. 24. Eli Black makes the third largest transaction in Wall Street history up to that moment by buying 733,000 shares of United Fruit in a single day. Black becomes the largest shareholder of the company.


United Fruit chairman John Fox and Eli Black negotiate the merger of United Fruit and AMK-John Morrell. After negotiations with the Federal Trade Commission they merger and name themselves United Brands Company in June 30th. The company reports operation losses of two million dollars. Black cuts the research expenses.

Aldicarb, an insecticide to control mites and nematodes is introduced in the market by Rhone-Poulenc. This chemical proved to cause headache, stomach problems, blurred vision, and disorientation among the workers who worked with it.


January 27. Jacobo Arbenz dies in exile in Mexico City at the age of fifty-eight.

United Brands reports a loss of 24 million dollars; the highest in its history

December: Alleging violations of the Sherman Acthe U.S government orders United Brands to divest themselves of a banana-producing division capable of 9 million stems . The company sells the division Compania Agricola de Guatemala, to West Indies Co. (a Del Monte subsidiary)


In an attempt to pay its high debts United Brands begins to sell several of the conglomerate's companies and tropical land assets.

An earthquake destroyes the capital city of Nicaragua, Managua. Black organizes a United Brands sponsored aid to the victims.

The Black Sigatoka fungus attacks the leaves of the Cavendish plantations in Honduras.


Black manages $16 million in profits this year giving the hope of recovery for the company.

March: For the first time in history, Dole moves to the first place in United States sales ahead of United Brands, with 45% of the market, versus 35% for United Brnads.


March: The governments of Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama sign the Panama Agreement which imposes banana export taxes of $1 per 40 pound box. United Brands considers this new tax unfair and confronts the local governments.

July-September: Workers in the United Brands Company go on strike and refuse to export bananas from Panama unless the local government ends its consideration to nationalize the company's Panama assets. This means an interruption of 45% of the total of Panama's exports.

September 17. The governments of Costa Rica, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and Panama form the Union de Paises Exportadores de Banano (UPEB) -Organization of Banana Export Countries- to defend the interests of the member countries, raise and maintain high prices, and adopt common policies. United Brands threatenes unsuccessfully to pull out. Ecuador, the world's largest producer, decides not to join the organization.

September 18. Hurricane Fifi destroys 70% of company's plantations in Honduras and causes losses of more than $20 million. The hurricane decreases the country's annual exports from 45.4 million boxes in 1973 to 35.3 in 1974, and 20.4 million in 1975.

Black organized relief teams to help the victims of Fifi. Financial losses are not recovered.

United Brands' subsidiary John Morrell reports losses of $6 million. The total losses of United Brands that year are $70 million.

In a new attempt to alleviate the company's troubles, Black sells on December Foster Grant for almost $70 million. The operation is considered to be a great success


February 3. Black commits suicide by jumping from his office in Panam building in New York. The investigations following his death reveal a bribery scandal in which Black and United Brands are involved. In April the SEC accused United Brands of bribing the President of Honduras, Osvaldo Lopez Arellano with $1.25 million, with the promise of another $1.25 million later, in exchange for a reduction in the export taxes Honduras committed under the light of UPEB rules. The investigation also reveals that during Black's presidency United Brands had bribed European officials for $750,000. The trade of United Brands stock is halted for almost a week, and some shareholders bring lawsuits against the company. In the meantime, the Honduran Army removes the President on suspicion of participating in the bribe, despite Lopez allegations of innocence. The scandal also rushes the Costa Rican President to threaten United Brands with a cancellation of all contracts if the company did not reveal all the names of local officials involved in bribes. Finally, a federal grand jury brings criminal charges against United Brands in the United States.

May. Wallace Booth, chairman of United Brands Company succeeds in a series of reforms that include tightening management control, streamlining banana delivery systems, and updating meat-packing technology at John Morrell.

The conversion from Gros Michel to Cavendish is completed in all Latin American plantations, with the exception of some area in Northern Ecuador grown for domestic consumption.


Carl Lindner, one of the biggest investors of the company, becomes the new President.

January. A federal judge grants SEC permanent access to United Brands records to avoid further violations of the law from this company.

April. United Brands sells 190 miles of railroad track to the Honduran government for $0.50 and then leases it back for $250,000 a year. It also commits itself to the maintenance and operation of the railroad line.


United Brands admits that it had paid a bribe of $2.5 million to the former Honduran minister of economy, Abraham Bennaton Ramos. The company is fined with $15,000 and the case is closed.


The United States bans the use of dibromochloropropane (DBCP) for the effects it has on human health. DBCP had been developed by Dow Chemical and Shell Oil as a pesticide to kill nematodes (microscopic worms that feed on the roots of banana trees). DBCP had used widely in the Central American plantations since the 1960s and caused damages in the banana workers' testicles. Although prohibited in the United States this pesticide continued being used in the banana-producing countries.

R.J. Reynolds purchases Del Monte.


Lindner increases dramatically his stake in the company.

Black Sigatoka begins to spread from Honduras to all over Central America in this decade.


Strong storms in Panama and Costa Rica damage the banana crops. United Brands faces this loss at the same time it was dealing with strong losses of John Morrell.

United Brands loses ground sharing only a third of the banana market. The other two thirds were in hands of Del Monte and Standard Fruit.

The Unites States Army invades Grenada.


August. Lindner takes over as chairman of United Brands. He transforms the company from its large, diversified operations into a company with a narrower focus. He works to stabilize profits.


With a new team of directors Lindner doubles the company's cash flow from 1985 to 1988. Lindner sells some of the company's operations, such as soft drinks, animal feeds, and international telecommunications. He moves the company's headquarters from New York to Cincinnati.

Lindner widens the use of the name "Chiquita" to other fruits such as grapefruits and pineapples. He manages to recapture the first place in banana trade from Dole.

David Murdock buys Castle and Cook (the owner of Standard Fruit) and re-names the new company as Dole Corporation. Dole had business in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and elaborated food, besides bananas.


The workers of John Morrell meat packing houses in the United States go on strike. The conflict is settled in one year.


Black Sigatoka fungus reaches Ecuador.

The Central American banana growers spend this year $100 million to control Black Sigatoka.


John Morrell workers sue the company claiming that they were not paid for work involving safety equipment that they were required to perform on their own time. The Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration levies a fine of $4.3 million.


Lindner decides to change the name of the company from United Brands Company into Chiquita Brands International Incorporated. He justified this by saying that popular name recognition would help the whole conglomerate.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends the ban of Aldicarb, a chemical to control mites and nematodes, in banana plantations for the bad effects this insecticide had on people's health. Aldicarb, however, is not banned.

The United States Army invades Panama and arrests President Manuel Noriega.


The collapse of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe brings hopes to the different banana companies of a larger market. Chiquita begins to invest in buying land again, after a long process of divestiture that began in the 1950s.

Chiquita recovers the number one place of the banana companies (33% of the world's market share), followed by Dole (22%).

Dole reports that 40% of its food division profits came from banana sales.


The United States Environmental Protection Agency reported that a few bananas imported to the US were tainted with Aldicarb (a pesticide with proven hazzardous health effects). Although there were no reports of possible health effects due to eating bananas with Aldicarb the manufacturer, Rhone-Poulenc withdraws the product from the market for use on bananas. Aldicarb had been withdrawn from potatoes already, but remained in use in citrus, soybeans, coffee beans, sweet potatoes, sugar beets, pecans, tobacco, cotton, and alfalfa seeds.


Fulton City, Kentucky, celebrates the last International Banana Festival. The decision to kill the festival was because of a decreasing interest by the participating countries, the US government, the banana companies, and the local community.


A Texas court settles out a multimillion dollar suit filed against several American companies by thousands of Costa Rican banana workers in the 1980s who claimed that they had been made sterile by exposure to DBCP, an insecticide.

Facing the possibility of an international boycott on bananas because of the damage certain pesticides caused to the workers, the Costa Rican government and the multinational corporations begin research on pest-resistant and more enviromentally-friendly banana varieties. This initiative is promoted by the Banana Amigo Project and sponsored by the US-based Rainforest Alliance and the Costa Rican Fundacion Ambio and Tsuli Tsuli/Adubon.

The European Union establishes a quota system for banana imports giving preference to those produced in their former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean. The Latin American growers face tariffs and no quota in their exports to Europe. The European Union argues that without this policy the banana export industry of its former colonies would collapse.


Given that Chiquita does not have any investment in the the former European colonies' producing areas, the company accuses the European Union quota policy as unfair. Senator Robert Dole says in the U.S. Senate that the European initiative was going against the most basic rules of free market and proposed retaliation. During his presidential campaign against President Bill Clinton, Senator Dole receives a $155,000 contribution from Chiquita and uses a company's airplane for his campaign tour around the United States


NBC television show "A Word from Our Sponsor" includes "Chiquita Banana" among the all-time top-ten advertising jingles.


May: The Cincinnati Enquirer publishes a series of articles written by Mike Gallagher and Cameron McWhirter exposing Chiquita's questionable business practices that included bribery, abusive corporate control in Honduras and Colombia, the use of harmful pesticides, and repressive actions against workers. Chiquita's shareholders sue the company, and Chiquita sues the newspaper claiming that the reporters illegally obtained voice-mail tapes. The Enquirer was forced in court to fire the reporters and to apologyze to Chiquita. The company, however, never challenged the facts reported by Gallagher and McWhirter.

November: The United States protests at the World Trade Organization against the new European policy around bananas, and threatens to slap 100% tariffs on several European products unless the European Union stops its preferential treatment for Caribbean, African, and Pacific producers. The European Union claims that the American demand does not make sense because its policies did not affect a single American job. European Union's trade commissioner, sir Leon Brittan claims that the sanctions are product of the strong lobby of Chiquita and Dole.

November: Hurricane Mitch destroys 90% of the entire banana industry of Honduras. At the time, Honduras was the fourth largest banana producer in the world. Chiquita lays off 7,400 of its workers, but promises to continue providing the workers with medical insurance, housing, utility service, two months of financial assistance, and interest-free loans. Dole contributes with shipments of food and medicine.


March: Beef joins the banana war when the European Union bans the imports of genetically modified beef from the United States. The American government threatens with more sanctions adding more fire to an already heated debate. The World Trade Organization finds the European decision unlawful and sides with the US.

April 7: The World Trade Organization determines that American commercial interests had suffered losses of $191.4 million in each of the years the European Union regime had existed, making a total of $1 billion harm. The European Union refuses to bring its system into the World Trade Organization conformity and suffers American retaliation in the form of sanctions against European businesses directly involved in the banana conflict.

In spite of the WTO rule, the European Union refuses to change the quota system. Sir Leon Brittan, EU's trade commissioner, insists again that the whole conflict is orchestrated by Chiquita and Dole who paid important politicians to lobby on their favor. US Trade Representative, Charlenne Bershefsky, claims that EU's policies will hurt poor countries like Honduras or Nicaragua more than the multinational corporations. Bershefsky says that the US government is losing its patience and might impose economic sanctions to Europe.


The United States imposes economic sanctions to Europe as part of the banana war. The sanctions meant heavy tariffs to luxury goods imported from Europe at the cost of $191.4 million.


April 11: The European Union and the United States settle their differences and end with the banana war. United States drops the economic sanctions and the Europeans drop their first-come-first-served import system and replace it for a transitional system that will lead to a tariff-only system in 2006. Under the agreement, EU import licenses will be allotted based on the way they were distributed during a 'historical reference period' of 1994-1996. The European Commission will also initiate the necessary procedures to propose to the EU Council of Ministers an adjustment to expand access for Latin American bananas and to secure a market share for a specific quantity of bananas of ACP (African, Caribbean, and Pacific) origin.

The final agreement between the US and the EU is praised by Chiquita who had sued the European Commission for US$525 million in damages it said it had suffered due to EU banana restrictions. The agreement, however, faced the opposition of Ecuador and Dole who saw this as an arrangement to assure Chiquita a fixed market share in the protectionist European market. Ecuador threatens to protest at the World Trade Organization.


March: Chiquita starts restructuring its debt protected by the US bankruptcy legislation, permitting it to emerge from Chapter 11.

March: Chiquita sells its main interests in the US Midwest after selling all its interests in the Castellini Group.
Chiquita adopts a new code of conduct that follows the standards required by the Social Accountability International’s SA8000 labor and human rights standards.
Chiquita has a meeting considered “historic” with members of the International Labor Federation (ILO) and COLSIBA, a Latin American-wide banana labor union umbrella. For the first time in its history, Chiquita sings an agreement with the labor unions of all its divisions and agrees on improving workers’ conditions.

Chiquita joins the Ethical Trading Initiative, an international set of standards on fair trade and human rights.

The Progressive Investor names Chiquita one of the top 20 “green stocks” for its environmental record.


Chiquita acquires the Atlanta AG Group, a leading banana market company in Germany.
Chiquita decides to focus on its fresh fruit market by selling its processed food divisions to Seneca for $110 million in cash and debt assumption. After this transaction, fresh produce amounted 98% of all the company’s operations.
Chiquita receives the “Corporate Conscience Award” from Social Accountability International
Dole Foods acquire the Costa Rican pineapple division of Maui Land & Pineapple.
David Murdock, Dole’s CEO, acquires Dole and becomes the company’s sole owner.


Feb. 4: Chiquita announces its bid to acquire the East Africa Coffee Plantations Co.
May: Chiquita admits that it had paid “protection money” to different terrorist groups in Colombia, including right-wing paramilitary groups responsible for several massacres and murders of union leaders. Thereafter, the US Department of Justice starts an investigation in this matter.

June: Chiquita stops its operations in Colombia and withdraws from that country. The company sells its Colombian division to the local company Banacol for $52 million. Chiquita says that their withdrawal is part of its new policy of focusing efforts in African production. The Colombian unions say that the company’s policy responds to lower labor costs in Africa and the European banana policy that favors African producers.
Oct. The European Commission announces an increase of 75 Euros to 230 Euros per ton for bananas imported from places different from Africa, the Pacific, and the Caribbean (ACP). The policy is planned to start in January 2006. Chiquita says this policy puts it at a disadvantage while the ACP countries propose a higher tax of 354 Euros/ton.
The new European system leads the Latin American producing countries (Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama) to request arbitration from the WTO.


Jan.: Chiquita agrees to acquire Performance Food Group's Fresh Express division for $855 million and completed the deal in June 2005. Fresh Express controls 40% of the American packaged salads market. This operation increases the company’s North American revenue base from 26% to 44%.

Jan: Chiquita announces that 100% of its Latin American plantations had been certified by independent auditors to International Labor Standards and the environmental standards of Rainforest Alliance.

June: Chiquita accuses itself of violations of the European quota regime. The company starts and investigation on the employees involved in the case, avoiding a sue from the Europeans due to its voluntary acknowledgement of the problem. Other companies involved included Del Monte and Dole.

Jun 10: Wal-Mart, Chiquita’s biggest customer in the United States, announces a decrease in its banana purchases. This means a decrease of 33% of Chiquita banana

sales in the U.S. Chiquita blames cheaper bananas from other competitors.

Jun 16: Chiquita says that the problems with Wal-Mart were a result of the extremely low price demands from the retailer.

July: The presidents of the main Latin American banana producing countries meet in a summit in San Jose (Costa Rica) to condemn the existing European quota system as discriminatory and plea for a WTO intervention.

This table was prepared by Marcelo Bucheli in colaboration with Ian Read. The sources used can be found in the Bibliography plus Lisa Mirabile (ed), International Directory of Company Histories (London: St. James Press, 1990) and John Ingham (ed), Biographical Dictionary of American Business Leaders (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983)

© marcelo bucheli, 2001

© ian read, 2001



The information contained in this website is absolutely free. However, we request users to quote this website as their source when using material obtained here.

©united fruit historical society, 2001-2006


Autobiography of a SPY


Be sure and get to a library and have the librarian locate a book
written by Mary Bancroft. Title: .Autobiography of a Spy 1983 Morrow
Bancroft relates the story of her childhood, her two marriages, her
affair with Allen Dulles, and her work in Switzerland with the Office
of Strategic Services during World War II.
Just a line to get you started: "Two of our Boston friends, Ruth and
Lyman Paine, had moved to New York and gave wonderful parties in their
West Side apartment. We met a lot of their friends, mostly in the
arts. Ruth was a painter. Lyman, an architect, was interested in what
he termed "The Ultimate Reality," which I interpreted as my old
friend, truth. Lyman and I had endless discussions about the ultimate
reality while sipping highballs of bathtub gin and ginger ale that
would have taken the varnish off a table if they had happened to
 Mary's first husband was Sherwin Badger who was employed by United
Fruit Co.
Do some research on the fruit co.. It was owned by John Foster Dulles
brother of Allen Dulles, I'm sure you know who they were. Allen was
CIA Director removed by JFK. Mary also knew Ruth Forbes-
Ruth Paine's mother- Mary said Ruth Forbes was a very good friend of
      Mary's son, Sherman, worked for Henry Luce at Life Magazine.
Mary was not only a mistress to Allen Dulles; she was also sleeping
with Henry, husband of Clare Boothe Luce.
      Son Sherman Jr. attended Dartmouth University at the same time
that George deMohrenschildt's brother taught Russian and published the
Russian Review.
See Columbia University: Oral History of Mary Bancroft, 1972.
Thought you would enjoy!
Would you like to read a poem? Are you out there Ruth?
                 RUTH AND ROY'S PLACE
The building is the secret- if ya wanna know the truth,
And how they got him in there- ya needa ask Miss Ruth.
The place was full of cub-by-holes and spots where you could hide.
And, you didn't need a stairway- there were many ways outside.
An architect could show you how the dirty deed was done,
And, where man was hiding- the man who shot the gun.
When the policeman came and asked the man to help him find his way,
The guy in charge of everything had only this to say:
"Would you like to see the basement? Or, the stairway would be fun.
The shooter should be out by now- there's no need for us to run."
We know these folks weren't strangers- they knew each other well,
And soon they'll be together to celebrate in HELL.
So , the building is the secret- take a better look.
The secret isn't magic- the answer's in the book.
How 'bout them apples??????????????????????
Allen Dulles knew who Mike Paine was as he (Dulles) was present when
Mike provided his family background. Have you ever seen any evidence
anywhere that Allen Dulles told anyone on the WC staff that he had
this "connection"?
From Clark Wilkins, Researcher
United Fruit is a very interesting company.  It was actually owned by
the Rockefellers who are cousins of the Dulles family with one of the
Dulles brothers serving as a director of United Fruit. United Fruit
took a huge loss on the stock market when Castro nationalized their
assets in Cuba.  It was an enormous financial disaster at the time,
nearly comparable to the ENRON story of today.
Under the Rockefellers and Dulles management, United Fruit was very
friendly towards the CIA as well as several "banana republic"dictators
in Central America. The term "banana republic" refers to United Fruits
major cash crop, bananas. Because bananas quickly spoil, they must be
cut, loaded, transported, and delivered to market in about two weeks
time.  If there is any interruption in the delivery process, the
entire crop can spoil and United Fruit would lose a fortune.  To make
certain delivery was on time, the dictators of these Central American
countries were put on United Fruit's payroll.  They saw to it that the
crops were cut and delivered without any interruption (such as a
strike by the farm workers).  So important was speed that United Fruit
often owned its own railroads that carried the crops from the
plantations to the waiting ships.  Again, fast ships were required and
there were a number of prestigious ship lines that carried the fruit
to its destination - which was usually New Orleans.  Some of the
owners of these ship lines have been mentioned in CT literature.
         Once the ships arrived in New Orleans they had to be speedily
unloaded.  "Wildcat" strikes by stevedores could not be tolerated.
 The bananas could rot in the ships hold in just days and the
stevedores knew this and could easily force a fruit company to cave
into a strike before the cargo spoiled.  To prevent "wildcat" strikes,
the fruit companies needed control of the unions and this is where the
Mafia came in, running the longshoremen's union to make sure there
would be no strikes in much the same way that the CIA worked with the
Mafia during WWII to control the waterfronts.  Oswald's Uncle Dutz was
involved in the longshoremen's union in New Orleans.  Control of the
longshoremen's union extended from beating up the opposition to
"collecting" dues from the union membership.  The Mafia's "dues"
collectors were drawn from local boxers.  Sylvestor Stallone's
character, Rocky Bilbao, was based on such a collector.  Oswald's
uncle Dutz was also a boxer (So was Jack Ruby).  The Mafia kept the
ships being unloaded in a timely manner in exchange for "a piece of
the action" of the fruit companies.  They became stockholders in the
fruit companies which included Standard Fruit, the company that
initially hired/screened Lee Harvey Oswald for his job at Reily
Coffee.  One of the major stockholders in Standard Fruit was the
Vacarro (sp?) family (I can't remember if they were from Sicily or
  The president of Standard Fruit also owned most of the boxing gyms
in New Orleans.  When the Rockefellers later sold United Fruit, it was
purchased by a suspected Mafia smuggler and, afterwards, Federal
narcotics agencies would attribute United Fruit to the rising
importation of drugs into the US.
       The rise of Castro, who nationalized United Fruits holdings in
Cuba, opened the door to possible "copycat" communist revolutions taking
place in other Central American countries and resulting in more losses for
United as well as Standard Fruit.  The fruit companies now required the
protection of the US Gov't.  This was why the CIA was invited into United
Fruit (The CIA's interest in protecting fruit companies dates back to
their 1954 revolution in Guatemala as well as US Marines in Central
America in the 1930's).  To obtain the cooperation of the CIA, the fruit
companies would lobby the US Gov't by making campaign donations and
providing the CIA and State Dept. with "free" intelligence on Central
America.  People like Senator Dodd found themselves on the payroll while
others, like William George Gaudet, provided intelligence articles for
lobbying Washington and, in particular, the CIA, on the need to keep
Central America communist free.  Gaudet felt he was so close to the CIA he
often described himself as a CIA "agent".  Gaudet worked out of the
International Trade Mart in New Orleans which Oswald demonstrated in front
of and from which at least two other companies lobbied Congress and the
CIA. Clay Shaw would run the ITM and use it to provide "conference space"
to Henry Luce's Time-Life which would later buy, and never show, the
Zapruder film (Henry Luce is mentioned in the post below). To fund this
lobbying, the fruit companies used "pretax" dollars - or offshore money
that had yet to reach the US for taxation.  They let their "banana
republic" dictators, like Anastasia Somoza, make untaxed donations from
their own treasuries. These donations were illegal and anyone in the US
receiving and distributing these funds was required to register as a
Foreign Agent.
  It became important then that the recipient agent of those donations
not be called to testify as to the source of the funds.  The agent
selected by Samoza was Dr. Alton Ochsner, his personal physician who
could, under patient client privilege, not be called to testify
against Samoza.  Ochsner, along with United Fruit, funded William
Gaudet's intelligence reports being distributed on Capital Hill.
Ochsner also funded Ed Butler's INCA who engaged Oswald in his New
Orleans radio debate.  When Oswald appeared on WDSU TV and WDSU Radio,
the managing owner of the station was an INCA member and a director of
the ITM along with an officer of Standard Fruit. Care had to be taken
that agents of Castro did not penetrate this New Orleans operation and
so company employees of Standard and Reily were subjected to
"screening" by a former FBI agent.  Such a background check was run on
Lee Harvey Oswald with a falsified result.
       So - yes - United Fruit is an interesting company to do
research on.




by  tomnln

Contact Information  tomnln@cox.net


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