Market in Bananera
As well as in La Ermitia, we pass through a market place in Bananera. There is still a stand in a distance ahead of us (track will be clear when we get there, honking all the time). "Push-cars" of salespeople are parked at the fence on the left.
As the name suggests, Bananera is a center of banana-growing. In the beginning of the 20th century, this business was dominated by U.S. corporation United Fruit, nowadays known as Chiquita. The company helped develop the area, especially with regard to building railroads. Nowadays, however, the events of 1954 are more famous. Democratically elected government of Guatemala expropriated a part of UF´s land. The program was designed in a smart way: Every property holder paid an annual tax based on land value, which he himself calculated. Most companies, including UF, obviously tried to avoid taxes by undervaluating the property. This worked for many years. However, when the government announced the nationalization program, every owner got exactly the same price which he previously declared. Fair? United Fruit disagreed, and unfortunately managed to persuade CIA to overthrow the government and set up a military junta (so called operation PBSUCCESS, more info here). This started a brutal dictatorship and a civil war, which lasted for 40 years until 1996 and cost the lives of 150 thousand people, mainly the Natives. In other words, being under the Americans could have been as bad as under the Soviets.
This is how the whole area looks on a map (only "B" on the right edge is visible from the name "Bananera").
© Jan Peula, 2004