at the beginning of the 20th century, the American author O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) coined the term “banana republic” to describe a Central American country whose economy and politics were heavily dependent on a single crop: bananas. Countries with similar economies were oftentimes dominated, manipulated and economically exploited by large U.S. corporations and, often, by the U.S government .
Gradually, the term banana republic became a derogatory expression in political commentaries to describe certain countries with perceived political-military corruption, widespread poverty and unrest.
Interestingly, today the term is often bandied about in the United States by those who wish to conjure up pejorative images of countries whose governments and policies they do not like or agree with.
But the term and its spin-offs have also been used by Americans to criticize their own government, politicians, and policies.
A 2004 book by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber accused right-wing “Banana Republicans” of “turning America into a one-party state.”
After the false claims of a 2020 stolen presidential election and, in particular, after the January 6 insurrection — some call it an attempted coup — Democrats began using the term to compare those events to those occurring in so-called banana republics.
Similarly, in the wake of government investigations into the 45th president’s attempts to prevent a peaceful transfer of power and – even more recently – after the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago residence when it became clear that Trump had absconded with top secret national security documents, Republicans labelled such actions as “gestapo-like” tactics, politically motivated reprisals worthy only of so-called banana republics.
Dario A. Euraque hits the nail on the head. At “Perspectives on History,” he writes
that Latin Americanists find banana republic comparisons in the U.S. “galling” because it “draws on a century of stereotypes about Latin America created by the US to serve US interests…”
Setting such political and ideological squabbles aside, the truth of the matter is that there is nothing to scoff at a republic – or a nation with a different form of government — whose economy and people benefit significantly from a single or a couple of strong, plentiful crops, natural resources, or native industries.
Ecuador, the author’s birthplace, could be called a “petroleum republic,” a “shrimp-fish republic,” a “cacao republic,” or a “flower republic,” it can also rightly be called a highly successful banana (producing and exporting) republic.
Ecuador’s vibrant banana industry occupies a prominent place in Ecuador’s economy enabling Ecuador to register a trade surplus of more than $2.87 billion in 2021. The value of Ecuador’s annual banana exports – approaching $4 billion and representing about 4% of the country’s GDP — is only second to the value of petroleum and shrimp exports, making Ecuador the biggest exporter of bananas in the world with a production that is 6% of the world’s total banana production.
The first banana plants (“suckers”) were introduced to what is now Latin America shortly after the discovery of the New World and were soon thriving in the tropical climate and rich soil conditions of the Pacific coast lowlands. Today, bananas — mostly of the Cavendish variety — flourish on approximately 200,000 hectares (nearly half a million acres) of Ecuadorian banana plantations of all sizes. They are owned and operated by 7,000 to 8,000 independent producers – not dominated by large transnational/multinational corporations — and involve some 200 exporting companies, together generating up to two million of direct and indirect jobs for Ecuadorians.
Ecuador has never been a “banana republic” in the stereotype sense of the term. It has met and surpassed the goal set more than 70 years ago
by Ecuador’s Minister of Economy, Clemente Yerovi Indaburo, during the presidency of Galo Plaza Lasso, of making Ecuador an extremely successful banana producing country, without the domination by foreign governments or companies.
More than a century after its original “coinage,” it is high time to cast the dark connotations attached to the term “banana republic” resolutely into the dustbin of neocolonial history — whether as applied in its original context or as later misused more broadly, yet in an equally pernicious way.
I would like to conclude on a lighthearted, personal note.
During a visit to a family banana plantation in Ecuador, I learned and observed many things about the cultivation of bananas. Among them, the fascinating phenomenon that each banana plant produces only one bunch of bananas. After the trunk has fruited, it is cut down to the ground and is replaced by other suckers, or shoots, growing out of the root clump (rhizome) remnants of the old plant. The strongest and healthiest of these shoots are allowed to grow, resulting in the plantation continuously renewing and replacing itself.
Upon my return to the U.S., I promptly tried to emulate the family’s success and was soon the proud owner of a couple of beautiful banana plants.
Eager to illustrate my success, I took and showed off a photo of myself posing with a bunch of bananas on the tree. (Below)
Unfortunately, I had not been sufficiently observant during my visit to the plantation as, somehow, the sparse (locally purchased) bunch of bananas on my tree had “grown” upside down.
So much for starting a “banana republic” on Texas soil.
“Fox’s Failure: Looking for coverage of former President Donald Trump’s dinner with Kanye West and white supremacist Nick Fuentes? Good luck finding it on Fox News. The right-wing cable channel has barely covered the controversy — which has been treated by news organizations as a top story — over the last few days. In fact, according to the progressive watchdog Media Matters, Fox News only covered the story
in five segments this past weekend. And even when Fox News has devoted time to the matter, the segments have been less than full throated. Take Tuesday’s segment on “Special Report” for example. Fill in host Trace Gallagher only referred to Fuentes as an “accused white nationalist,” despite Fuentes’ long history of making plainly racist remarks and pushing an extremist ideology.”
Conservative operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were sentenced to working 500 hours at a voter registration drive on Tuesday for sending out thousands of robocalls with false information in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.
The Cleveland-area state court also sentenced them to two years probation and six months of electronic monitoring from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. each night, prosecutors said.
The duo pleaded guilty last month
to telecommunications fraud after being indicted in October 2020 for the robocalls, which promoted conspiracy theories about mail-in voting.
“These two individuals attempted to disrupt the foundation of our democracy. Their sentence of two years’ probation and 500 hours of community work service at a voter registration drive is appropriate,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley (D) said in a statement.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R), who originally referred the case to O’Malley’s office, indicated in October 2020 that thousands of calls were sent to Ohio voters, with a total of 67,396 phone numbers receiving the message nationwide.
“Voter intimidation won’t be tolerated in Ohio,” Yost said in a statement after the duo’s guilty plea.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), whose office became involved in a separate suit that remains ongoing, published the purported script of the calls last year.
“Hi, this is Tamika Taylor from Project 1599, the civil rights organization founded by Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl. Mail-in voting sounds great, but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts?” the script allegedly read.
“The CDC is even pushing to use records for mail-in voting to track people for mandatory vaccines. Don’t be finessed into giving your private information to the man, stay safe and beware of vote by mail,” it continued.
Wohl and Burkman have previously promoted unsubstantiated hoaxes accusing Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, former special counsel Robert Mueller and President Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, of sexual assault.
Australia’s former Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday listed his achievements in government including standing up to a “bullying” China as he unsuccessfully argued against being censured by the Parliament for secretly amassing multiple ministerial powers.
This is the latest for our destination dining guide, Eat Sheet
. For more on how we do these a bit differently, head here first
Mumbai has long been an entrepot, a cosmos stamped with the influences of communities from within India and around the world. Immigrants have seeped through the city, imprinting their culinary cultures into its kitchens; stalls selling the city’s iconic vada pao sit cheek-by-jowl with rarefied colonial-era clubs, Indian-style Chinese is corralled onto a menu with Chicken a la Kiev, and chicken tikka as popular as pizza. This extremely abbreviated list of restaurants is a personal shoehorn into its past and its future.
Controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) sparked a strong reaction online Tuesday after she tweeted that “of course” she denounces “Nick Fuentes and his racists [sic] anti-semitic ideology.”
Greene responded to a tweet from PBS News Hour white house correspondent Laura Barrón-López regarding GOP House leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) being pressed by reporters
earlier on Tuesday about members of his conference being associated with Fuentes – the neo-Nazi who grabbed headlines last week by dining with former President Donald Trump.
“McCarthy was asked about House GOP members associated w/Fuentes, specifically Greene. He said ‘she denounced him,’” Barrón-López tweeted, adding:
There’s no public evidence Greene denounced Fuentes. She claimed she didn’t know about his “controversial” views when she spoke at his white nationalist conference
Of course I denounce Nick Fuentes and his racists anti-semitic ideology. I can’t comprehend why the media is obsessed with him.
Do you actually report real news or just use CNN for your political activism?
Greene replied, “Of course I denounce Nick Fuentes and his racists [sic] anti-semitic ideology. I can’t comprehend why the media is obsessed with him.”
“Do you actually report real news or just use CNN for your political activism? Have you questioned Democrats if they denounce Israel hating Ilhan Omar?” the Republican added.
Twitter users were quick to mock Greene’s reply, which ignored the fact that Greene and Fuentes do have a history.
Greene spoke at Fuentes’s white nationalist America First Political Action Conference in February of this year and was introduced on stage by Fuentes who led the crowd in a chant
of “Putin! Putin!” before bringing up the congresswoman.
Confronted later by CBS News’s Robert Costa, Greene claimed, “I do not know Nick Fuentes. I’ve never heard him speak. I’ve never seen a video. I don’t know what his views are, so I’m not aligned with anything that may be controversial.”
“What I can tell you is I went to his event last night to address his very large following because that is a young. It’s a very young following and it’s a generation I’m extremely concerned about,” she added.
Twitter users pulled no punches in making sure Greene recalled that she did in fact know Fuentes and once embraced him on stage:
Apple CEO Tim Apple—that’s what Donald Trump calls
him, and Donald Failing Real Estate Company is always right—does pretty well for himself. The chief executive formerly known as Tim Cook made almost $99 million
last year, and he’s the top decision-maker at the most valuable company on the planet
. Meanwhile, Elon Musk, who recently purchased Twitter for a gobsmacking $44 billion, is turning the beloved social media platform into something more like a social disease.
But just because Cook wants to protect his brand by keeping New Twitter—which is kind of like New Coke if they’d put a Klansman on the production line to spit in every can—at arm’s length doesn’t mean he’s biased against Republicans. Unless Republicans want to step up and admit they’re the party of neo-Nazis and other assorted racists, that is. No, Twitter has—erm, had—hard and fast rules about what you could or couldn’t post. And racist nonsense and dangerous conspiracy theories are—erm, were—strictly verboten.
They were, anyway, before Musk opened the floodgates and let both the ocher abomination
and his phalanx of flying monkeys
out of their cages. Now Musk is feuding with Apple—though, so far, it’s been little more than a feckless, one-sided slap-fight.
Elon Musk claims that Apple
has threatened to “withhold” Twitter from the iOS App Store for unknown reasons. The news follows a tweet
where Musk said Apple had “mostly stopped advertising” on the platform and a poll asking whether Apple should “publish all censorship actions it has taken that affect its customers.” Apple did not immediately comment on Musk’s claim.
The news follows much more subtle signs of mounting tension between Apple and Musk-owned Twitter. Musk has criticized Apple’s App Store fee
for in-app purchases, dubbing it a “hidden 30% tax” on the internet. And Apple App Store boss Phil Schiller deleted his Twitter account
following Musk’s takeover, shortly after Donald Trump’s account was reinstated.
In a November 15th interview
with CBS News, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that “they say that they are going to continue to moderate. I’m counting on them to continue to do that.” Musk, however, has pledged to loosen Twitter’s moderation guidelines and floated the idea of a mass unbanning of suspended accounts
Of course, Musk’s own decisions have no doubt had more than a little to do with Apple’s cold shoulder. He’s weakened the company, including its ability to respond to offensive content, with his massive layoffs, and his new “free speech-ish” vibe has brought the orcs out of hiding. Forbes:
It’s also in context of Twitter losing perhaps 70% of its staff,
with likely many involved in content moderation and brand safety no longer in place. That has resulted in an increase of impersonation — particularly with paid-for verification — which Musk has said has now dissipated, and additional porn, spam, and inauthentic behavior, likely from bots, on the platform. The most recent manifestation
: a massive amount of porn targeting any discussion of China
and the anti-Covid restriction riots in its cities.
It’s important to note that Musk used the word “withhold” and not remove. Withholding Twitter from the App Store suggests that Twitter may be having difficulties updating its app, which must pass an Apple App Store review for compliance with app submission guidelines. As a point of reference, Spotify’s recent app update which including various ways for customers to buy audiobooks was rejected three times by Apple
. Facebook also had trouble updating its gaming app in recent years.
In other words, if Twitter gets bounced off Apple’s App Store, Musk will have no one but himself to blame. But that’s not how Sen. Tom Cotton sees it! On Hugh Hewitt’s unreality show, the man who puts the “sass” in Arkansas claimed petty envy was lurking somewhere behind Cook’s avuncular gaze. Watch:
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) says Apple CEO Tim Cook may be threatening to pull Twitter off the App Store because he is “envious of Elon Musk’s massive success as a business man.” pic.twitter.com/jAcocPsX4c
HEWITT: “Apple is considering removing Twitter from the App Store. How does that strike you? How would you respond to that?”
COTTON: “Hugh, I think that would be a very ill-advised decision by Tim Cook at Apple. I understand that he may not care for Elon Musk, maybe he’s a little envious of Elon Musk’s massive success as a businessman, but to remove a widely used social media app from Apple’s App Store simply because he has political disagreements with Elon Musk and the direction he’s taking Twitter would simply be inviting aggressive legislative and regulatory action in Washington.”
Shorter Cotton: “If you don’t create a special carveout for newly racist Twitter, Congress is going to punish you, so let the Nazis run wild—or else.”
If mainstream Republicans are running afoul of Twitter’s rules, they need to either examine themselves or those rules more closely. But what Musk is basically saying is that the old rules against peeing in the pool are brutally unfair to chronic pool-pissers.
Of course, anyone is free to swim in an ocean of urine if they want to, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should be required to join the party.