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I was eating a banana today and began to wonder just what the hell a Chiquita Banana was. Why was it so different than, say... well... some other kind of banana. And what's with the Chiquita Banana song? Well... I found out. And quite frankly, I really wish I hadn't.

Most bananas that come into this country are Chiquita, which used to be the United Fruit Company. Basically the United Fruit Company was in the 1950s the largest privately owned company in Guatemala. It was American-owned and the chairman of the board was the brother of the CIA director at the time, Allen W. Dulles (1953-1961).

Of course there is a conspiracy involved. At first it seemed a bit far fetched, but I've found pretty much the same story over and over, which doesn't make it true neccesarily, but does make it interesting to think about while eating.

Anyway, there was this really strong tie-in between our government and the UFC. United Fruit was the most powerful economic and political force in Central America during the 1950s. They were cozy with foreign interventionists and media owners back home, which meant that they could make or break little countries at will. Then they decided they were not going to pay their taxes to the banana republic of Guatemala. They decided they were the main employer, the main landowner so what are they going to do?

The Guatemalan people democratically elected a president who said, "I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to take your land because you owe us all this money and I'm going to give it to the poor people of Guatemala." (right) So he went in and did this and the United States government responded by sending in the CIA which engineered a coup which overthrew that government, put in a military dictatorship, got rid of labor unions and literacy programs and basically started a government that became responsible for tens of thousands of disappearances and murders in Guatemala.

In 1968, when United Fruit was 70 years old, a man by the name of Eli Black began acquiring shares. After six years as CEO, making all the wrong decisions and alienating everyone who could help him, United Fruit was in deep trouble. Black jumped out of his office window on the 44th floor in 1975, while the SEC investigated his bribes to Honduran officials for tax relief on banana exports.

United Fruit is now known as Chiquita Brands, and although it still has banana plantations - around 30,000 acres, (or 12,000 hectares) in Panama - it is mainly involved in the export business.

So when you are eating a banana (that sweet thing that your mom always wanted you to eat instead of a candy bar) remember well this legacy of pain and suffering. Of course, that's only one view of the numerous conspiracies surrounding this mysterious yellow fruit. I'm sure there are more, such as the idea that they are actually alien pod people, but I'll leave that one to the experts.

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