In 1954, the CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Guatemala. The reason why is bananas!

In 1954, the CIA helped overthrow a democratically elected government in Guatemala. The reason why is bananas!

The United Fruit Company was more than a business—it was a humanitarian effort, according to some people. An American corporation that traded in tropical fruit grown in Central and South American plantations, the United Fruit Company brought thousands of jobs to countries like Guatemala. They also provided their workers with free housing, six years of schooling for children, and medical care.

Others saw the company as a thinly veiled attempt at capitalist Imperialism. The UFCO had a controlling interest in the country's only railroad system and only port for trade. They discouraged the government from building highways, so they could continue to profit from their own methods of transportation—the only available. This furthered their market dominance.

However, their primary means of control was in the distribution of land. UFCO claimed to need hundreds of thousands of acres to grow bananas, even though much of it was uncultivated. With heavy influence on governmental decisions, the UFCO was able to prevent any land from being sold to Guatemalans who wanted a share of the banana trade.

In 1954, the democratically elected Guatemalan government of Colonel Jacobo Arbenz Guzmn was toppled by U.S.-backed CIA forces led by Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, because Arbenz had implemented land reform that expropriated over 400,000 acres of UFCO's uncultivated land. The UFCO was having none of this and lobbied the United States for help, claiming Arbenz was taking this land in order to closer ally himself to the Soviet Bloc.

Under the threat of U.S. Military intervention, the Guatemalan military forced Arbenz to resign and returned to ruling by tyrants. There was no happy ending for the UFCO either. After the governmental overthrow, their stock market value fell and profit margins plummeted.


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