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Banana: Ethnobotany, Public Relations, CIA Covert Ops, and the Plant that Transformed the 20th Century
Transcript of Banana: Ethnobotany, Public Relations, CIA Covert Ops, and the Plant that Transformed the 20th Century
Ethnobotany, Public Relations, CIA Covert Ops,
and the Plant that Transformed the 20th Century
Along the way, I had the opportunity to pass through the dominions of the United Fruit, convincing me once again of just how terrible these capitalist octopuses are. I have sworn before a picture of the old and mourned comrade Stalin that I won't rest until I see these capitalist octopuses annihilated.
-Che Guevara, 1953
Cast of Characters
If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it.
-Edward Bernays, 1928
"If I sit silently,
I have sinned."
-Mohammad Mossadegh, 1951
Kermit Roosevelt, Jr.
Cast of Corporations
Agriculture and ethnobotanical history
John Foster Dulles
Media and Further Study
Mossadegh overthrown (1953 newsreel)
American Coup (2011) movie trailer
Edward Bernays on 'Late Night' (1984)
Chiquita Banana commercial (1947)
From 'The Century of the Self' (2002)
Guatemalan Human Rights Commission, USA "fact sheet"
New South Wales, Australia, guide to growing Cavendish bananas
United Fruit Co. Historical Society biography of Jacobo Arbenz
We all know how cities have been bombed and strafed, women and children have suffered... That was an act of vengeance by the United Fruit Company.
1975 CIA memo detailing its role in Arbenz overthrow (declassified in 2003)
-Jacobo Arbenz, 1954
1909-1939: Delicious and healthful
1939-1950: Twice as much… for a nickel, too!
1950-1953: The light refreshment
1953-1961: Be sociable
PEPSI ADVERTISING SLOGANS 1909-present
1961-1963: For those who think young
1963-1967: Come alive! You’re in the Pepsi Generation
1967-1969: The taste that beats the others cold
1969-1973: You’ve got a lot to live; Pepsi’s got a lot to give
1973-1975: Join the Pepsi People feelin’ free
1975-1978: Have a Pepsi Day
1978-1981: Catch that Pepsi spirit
1981-1982: Pepsi’s got your taste for life!
1983-1983: Pepsi now!
1984-present: The choice of a new generation
Renaissance - c.1925
c.1925 - present
"I am like Hitler. I execute first and ask questions later."
-Gen. Jorge Ubico, 1938
"In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians.
This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran's leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward."
-Barack Obama, Cairo, June 2009
A (very) brief history of advertising
William G.S. Cavendish
6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1857)
The origin of the banana is unclear, but it's likely native to Indonesia.
Banana stand in Tanzania
There are over 1,000 varieties of banana.
Of these, roughly 20 are commercially cultivated.
hands and fingers
All bananas are clones.
Herb, fruit, or seed?
Dan Koeppel tries his first Gros Michel
Bananas are predictable.
From green to fully ripe in seven days
Pliny the Elder called bananas "the food of the sages" in 67 C.E.
Alexander the Great brought bananas back to Macedonia in 326 B.C.E.
In 400 C.E., Saint Jerome completes the Vulgate for Pope Damascus I.
Apples did not grow naturally in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, or other geographically likely Edens
Bananas soon spread throughout the old world.
Some African nations:
Bananas= 80% caloric intake
The average American eats ~11 pounds of bananas a year.
The average Ugandan eats ~500 pounds of bananas a year.
...and we eat more bananas than apples and oranges combined.
Bananas are thus also prone to epidemic disease.
Easier to ship
Dominant banana in U.S. consumer market, 1880-1970
Considered inferior to Gros Michel
Must be shipped in boxes
Resistant to Panama Disease
Fear: "New Coke"
You recently ate one.
Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense
Destroyed Gros Michel to brink of extinction
Highly contagious fungus
If you are an average American, about forty years old, you are approaching banana ten thousand...
Everywhere they've appeared, bananas have changed the culture that embraced them.
-Dan Koeppel, author
'Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World'
Widely introduced to the United States at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876
At the 1876 Expo, the bananas were cut and served in foil.
This was considered "more respectable" in the Victorian Age.
"The uncrowned king of Central America"
The first of the bananamen
Built railroads in Costa Rica, 1871-1890
Similar problems to Panama Canal
Bananas = food for rail workers
Costa Rica runs out of money
Land for rails
First bunch in New York City: 1804
25c for a Cuban Red banana
Widespread by 1890s. Why?
1. Advances in transportation
2. Rise of middle class
3. Birth of nutrition movement
4. Bananas are seasonless
Al Jolson sings "Yes, We Have No Bananas" (1930)
United Fruit Company
Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
WARNING: BLACKFACE AND OTHER AWFUL RACIAL STEREOTYPES WITHIN
Married into Costa Rican royal family
Created the first true multinational American company
Minor Keith heads to Costa Rica
Keith builds Costa Rican railroad under terrible conditions
1885: Establishes Boston Fruit Company
1873: Keith plants bananas to feed his workers
United Fruit Company established; controls
75% of U.S. banana market
1904: Guatemala's dictator trades 99-year lease for UFCo.'s promise to build national railroad
1903- Panama Disease
1910: Sam Zemurray overthrows Honduras
1929: Zemurray's Cuyamel Fruit is bought out with UFCo. stock.
1933: Zemurray takes control of UFCo.
1944: Miss Chiquita Banana is born
1945: Juan Jose Arevalo elected in wake of Guatemalan uprising
1954: CIA overthrows Guatemalan government
1951: Jacobo Arbenz elected Guatemalan president
1932- Sullivan and Cromwell represents UFCo. Chief counsel: JFD
John Watson Foster
Author O. Henry coins phrase "banana republic"
1978: First Banana Republic opens in San Francisco
“Look at the mess we’ve got ourselves into,” Colonel Aureliano Buendia said at the time, “just because we invited a gringo to eat some bananas.”
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Developing nations and first-world corporations
Mohammad Reza Shah
Mohammad Reza Shah
Opening sequence of Argo (2012)