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Banana Republics: Whence they came and where are they going?
In the 50s, while reading American journals, one was amazed at the nefarious manner in which the US companies were using the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), of the US government. The United Fruit Company and others were governing by proxy, the abysmally poor countries of Central and South America and the islands of West Indies.

The economy of these countries was heavily dependent on banana plantations and mining resources.

Countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador were ruled by corrupt dictators, who let the United Fruit Company and others exploit the country’s resources, in a manner which suited their businesses best. Those countries which had democratically elected rulers, and did not befriend the American companies were ‘bumped off’.

The Nobel Laureate, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote a moving poem, of which some excerpts are:

‘United Fruit Company’

“ ……….parceled out the earth
to Coca Cola Inc, Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other entities:
The United Fruit Company Inc
reserved for itself the most succulent,
the central coast of my own land,
the delicate waist of America.
It rechristened its territories
as the ’Banana Republics’
and over the sleeping dead,
over the restless heroes
who brought about the greatness, the liberty and the flags,
it established the comic opera:
abolished the independencies,
…. over the ordinary graves,
….well trained in tyranny.”

My generation fondly remembers, Caribbean singer Harry Belafonte’s baritone voice singing the ‘Banana Boat’ song:

“Day O, Day O!

Work all night on a drink a’ rum
Daylight come and he wanna go home
Stack banana till the morning come
Daylight come and he wanna go home.”

The word ‘Banana republic’, was coined by popular story writer O Henry.

It is a derisive term which signifies a country with very poor governance, which allows business interests to exploit the country’s resources. Mostly, when the law of the land is given the go by!

In 2012, Robert Vadra’s infamous outburst, calling India a banana republic, drew the following comment from Vembu, in First Post:

‘Vadra is right. It is only in a 'banana republic' that a man who starts off with Rs 50 lakh capital (and an undistinguished record of running a middling family business) can, in just three short years, build a Rs 300 crore business empire - without any semblance of business activity, as declared in his companies' filings.’

God save our Republic!!!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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