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    Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 13:59
From wiki:
 
Banana Republic is a pejorative term for a country that is politically unstable, dependent on limited agriculture (e.g. bananas), and ruled by a small, self-elected, wealthy, and corrupt clique. It is most commonly used for countries in Central America such as El Salvador, Belize, Grenada, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala. In some cases, these nations have kept the government structures that were modeled after the colonial Spanish ruling clique, with a small, largely leisure class on the top, and a large, poorly educated and poorly paid working class of peons, though it might have the (fake) trappings of modernity (such as styling itself a republic with a president etc.)

Frequently the subject of mockery and humour, and usually presided over by a dictatorial military junta that exaggerates its own power and importance—"the epaulettes of a banana republic generalissimo" are proverbially of considerable size, usually portrayed in satire with a pair of mops—a banana republic also typically has large wealth inequities, poor infrastructure, poor schools, a "backward" economy, low capital spending, a reliance on foreign capital and money printing, budget deficits, and a weakening currency. Banana republics are typically also highly prone to revolutions and coups.

The question is. Are Latin American countries Babana Republics? All of them? Some of them? Have Banana republics moved to Africa? Is it Easter Europe a new collection of Bananas?

Is Cuba a Banana Republic? Or Mexico?
Even more, it is United States a union of Babana Republics? It is China? It is India? It is Russia?
 
Let's have some fun.
 
 


Edited by pinguin - 15-Apr-2009 at 14:05
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 14:35
Some certainly are in Latin America. Guatemala is, but Argentina is not. Some have chosen to continue a social structure which is almost feudal in nature, based on the hacienda, in which agriculture is the major employer and the land owners form the elite. This leaves little room for the educated middle class which makes up the backbone of modern progressive and wealthy nations.

Africa has some banana republics,. Quite often the crop is instead cocoa or something else suited for the African climate. Some African states are far less developed than banana republics though, a banana republic is far more stable and cohesive than a nation such as Zimbabwe. A great many African nations, such as Congo, are barely able to sustain subsistance agriculture, let alone produce enough to sell on the international market.

In looking at whether a country is a banana republic or not, we look at two things. Firstly, the economic basis of the state. If the state is based largely on production of a few agricultural products, and has very little in the way of industry, then this is a partial qualification.

Secondly, does a landowning elite control the social structure and keep much of the population illiterate and in poverty as a way to keep their grip on power? Does this elite supress political freedoms, access to democracy and human rights?

If you have these two factors, then you have a banana republic. So as I said, Guatemala would certainly qualify, but Argentina would not. It seems to me the answer would fall somewhere within a spectrum, rather than being a simple 'yes' or 'no'.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 16:01
Argentina? For us, Chileans, Argentina looks quite banana...
Particularly when that crazy military junta tried to win a war against a military superpower.
 
Argentina is a country that surprise us, Chileans, because it has everything to be rich, and its people is quite educated and also directly European descendents. However, they behave, sometimes, as the more cahotic bunch of the neighbourhood.
 
This thread will be a lot of fun, I guess. For instance, was Bush banana?
 
... I'll continue
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Frederick Roger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 16:35
Portugal has been almost daily described as such during the last 35 years. LOL

Edited by Frederick Roger - 15-Apr-2009 at 16:35
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 17:09
"Chiquita", the company involded in the creation of the first Banana Republics:
 
And this is quite Interesting. Banana Republicans...
 
 
Follow the link to see it fully:
 
 
 


Edited by pinguin - 15-Apr-2009 at 17:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 19:06
The only country in Latin America where political instability is still rampant is Haiti, the rest has calmed down a lot (though I can see Guatemala and Nicaragua slipping away any time).

In any case, the Central American republics (minus Costa Rica and Panama) seem to fit the defition best nowadays. They are still basically feudal: a metropoli where all political and economic power is concentrated and an impoverished countryside. In those countries the middle class is virtually absent, which means liberal democracy has a very hard time to take root, and crime and impunity is rampant.
 
I think those countries started to diverge negatively from the rest of Latin America in the 1950s. Most other Latin American countries around that time had populist or nationalist régimes that for all their flaws at least managed to involve most of the population into politics and put an end to too archaic social-economic conditions. In Central America such regimes never took root, apart from Guatemala (where it was overthrown in 1954 and its reforms rolled back) and Costa Rica (which not coincidentally has become by far the most prosperous country in the region). Any calls for reform were considered 'subversive' or 'communist'. Since even moderate reforms were put down heavy handedly (again: Guatemala 1954) the only options left were coformism and radicalization. Of course this led to civil wars by the late 1970s, which where won by the local elite with US support.

Result: while the rest of Latin America has witnessed (slow but unmistakable) progress in the past few decades, Central America is still in 1944.


Edited by Mixcoatl - 15-Apr-2009 at 19:07
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 19:13
Slow progress? How to measure it. If we compare the living conditions of countries like Costa Rica, Brazil and Chile in the 1950s and today there is huge abism. In the 1950s ours standards of life were, perhaps, close to Cambodia is today. Now, countries like Brazil replaced rubber by heavy industries and manufacturing; Costa Rica replaced bananas by tourism and high tech; and while we still produce copper in Chile, the technology behind our mining, fishing and agricultural products is top.
 
For me -that I was born in a mud-brick house in a poor neighbourhood of old Santiago of the fifties, and that have a middle class house these days- the change is awasome. Really unbelievable.
 
 
 


Edited by pinguin - 15-Apr-2009 at 19:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Apr-2009 at 19:19
You are right about that, but you shouldn't forget that most of the gains were made between 1950 and the mid 1970s. With the debt crisis in the 1980s things got worse, and from the 1990s onwards things are getting better again, though at a slower rate than before the debt crisis.

And in any case, my main point is that Central America has done (and still does) much worse than the rest of Latin America.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 12:52
Originally posted by pinguin pinguin wrote:

Argentina? For us, Chileans, Argentina looks quite banana...
Particularly when that crazy military junta tried to win a war against a military superpower.
 
Argentina is a country that surprise us, Chileans, because it has everything to be rich, and its people is quite educated and also directly European descendents. However, they behave, sometimes, as the more cahotic bunch of the neighbourhood.
 
This thread will be a lot of fun, I guess. For instance, was Bush banana?
 
... I'll continue
 
 


I am perhaps thinking back to the beginning of the 20th centuries, when Argentina was a very wealthy nation with what looked like a very promising future. And she certainly compared well to other Latin American states. Still, even today standards of living in Argentina are higher than in most Latin American states. Chile is simply a Latin American state which has performed far better than most others.

Bush made America more a banana republic. Power and wealth shifted into the hands of the elite, America economically is producing less and less that it sells to the world besides its agricultural and mining sectors. And the nation's chances of remaining politically stable and united are worse at the end of Bush's terms in power than when he came to power.

However the USA is not built on the success of any one commidity, and will remain the pre-eminent power in the world even after four disasters like Bush. She is big, she is powerful, and it will take A LOT of mismanagement before she becomes meek.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Apr-2009 at 13:04
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

...
However the USA is not built on the success of any one commidity, and will remain the pre-eminent power in the world even after four disasters like Bush. She is big, she is powerful, and it will take A LOT of mismanagement before she becomes meek.
 
Or just a bit more of Argentinean style mismanagement...  LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 01:00

Products from the company "Banana Republic"

 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote cahaya Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 06:28
I was about to post the same thing.. Tongue women apparels 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leonidas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 11:12
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:


However the USA is not built on the success of any one commidity, and will remain the pre-eminent power in the world even after four disasters like Bush. She is big, she is powerful, and it will take A LOT of mismanagement before she becomes meek.
true she has the ability to re-invent herself, better then any other.

.........in saying that she needs to do so or she will become a banana republic and not too soon. The last couple of decades her main export (drivers) was what? financialisation - hot air, recycled Yuan, Hollywood and weapons... along with jobs.

 Not cars, consumer electronics or resources. A net consumer with descreasing credit creating means and a myopic political leadership (Robber barons) that reminds me of Rome in its decline.

My opinion of even more likley banana republic is the UK and the 'PIGS' group of europe - the PIGS cant change like some of the more dynamic countries.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 13:28
 
Here is the history of the United Fruit Company, today known as Chiquita, and its involvement in the bloody history of Central America.
 
United Fruit Company
 
 
 
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



Edited by pinguin - 17-Apr-2009 at 13:36
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nickmard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Apr-2009 at 14:39
Fiji is a now also a Banana Republic...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whalebreath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 05:32
Originally posted by Nickmard Nickmard wrote:

Fiji is a now also a Banana Republic...

Sad to say you might be right there's not a lot of hope for democracy for Fiji now.Cry
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Constantine XI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 05:55
Yes Fiji does fit that description. A nation whose economy is based largely on tourism, and which is a de facto military dictatorship. You have to wonder what sort of effect being a military dictatorship is going to have on the nation's tourism industry.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 12:50

Maybe. But the classical Banana Republic was not only a monoproducer, controlled by a dictatorship or a false democracy. The key factor is that it was controlled by a foreign company, as it happened in the past with United Fruit, Anaconda company, ITT and other American companies in Latin America. In a sense, in the past India and Hong Kong were also a Banana Republic, controlled as it was by the East Indian Company and similar.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Illirac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Apr-2009 at 13:36
When an apartment of 36m2 consumes 18 000 kW in two months (25 000 kuna=3400 euros circa), and it is impossible for all the electronic devices to consume such an amount even if they're on all day long, the poor woman has to pay it; and of course nobody doing nothing about it, you can see what are the Banana Republics.

Edited by Illirac - 18-Apr-2009 at 13:37
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote whalebreath Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Apr-2009 at 04:51
Originally posted by Constantine XI Constantine XI wrote:

You have to wonder what sort of effect being a military dictatorship is going to have on the nation's tourism industry.

For those who know and love the Fijian people very little, I've been three times and would go back tomorrow if I could.

It's a tough sell for mainstream tour operations though, there's all kinds of competition for the tourism dollar, for instance Cuba is bound to suck a lot of (US based) money once it fully opens up.
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