The powerful American company, United Fruit, which you might have read about in a team dispatch a few weeks ago, built the town of Puerto Barrios earlier this century. United Fruit owned large plantations all over Guatemala. It built Puerto Barrios and a vast network of railways and roads that led to this port town so that it could easily ship its produce back to the U.S. United Fruit Company, which later became Chiquita, was soon joined by other companies like Dole and Del Monte. As a result, the town, as well as the hundreds of thousands of acres of land are owned and run by American companies.
My first view of Puerto Barrios was one of an enormous freight ship carrying over twenty flatbed truckloads of Dole products. I couldn't believe it! I'd never seen so many bananas in all my life! As our ferry docked at the port, we were greeted by the Shell service station waiting to refuel the motor boats. When I walked into town, I went directly to the Coca-Cola bus terminal located across the street from the Generation Next Pepsi Plaza. Just like the rest of the country, Puerto Barrios was full of American brand names and companies.
When I travel to places like Guatemala, I always wonder, what is it that keeps these countries "third world countries?" They are rich in natural resources and the people are far from lazy, often working twelve-hour days. But why then do so many of them lack sufficient food to eat, or even a home to sleep in? When foreign companies come in and buy up all the fertile land only to grow crops to export out of the country, it robs the people of the land they need to grow the food they need to survive. Instead of spending their days working their own fields and farming a variety of crops for their own families, people now have to leave their families and spend their days working on someone else's land growing bananas and pineapples to export out to the U.S. and Europe. They earn very low wages, and can barely afford to buy what they need to survive. Unfortunately, most of what they buy is sold by American companies and at high prices. In this way, it is easy to see how "first world countries" can remain first world, by using cheap land and cheap labor in the "third world and selling products at "first world" prices.
So as Dole, Chiquita, and Del Monte continue to ship out tons and tons of pineapples and bananas for our breakfasts back home, the landless here in Guatemala will continue to work, hoping that some day the land reforms Arbenz had planned will come about.
Abeja - My Stomahc Hurts (KIDS' VERSION)
Abeja - Adios Guate!
Kavitha - Elections in El Salvador--A Hopeful Future from a Tragic Past?
Monica - Of Drugs and Dancing: Social Change in Quepos
Kevin and Shawn - Students on the Streets to PROTEST!
Help Protect Guatemala's Street Children!
Making a Difference |
Trek Connect |
Home | Search | Teacher Zone