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Banana Kings > Letters

Web Letter

Hi, I'm a longtime Nation reader and really enjoy your magazine. As a citizen of Costa Rica, I've been familiar with the (dirty) history behind United Fruit for years. As a matter of fact, years ago several archeologists from one of our national universities, Universidad de Costa Rica, were called to investigate was what was assumed to be a newly discovered burial. When they performed their excavations, they realized the bodies were too recent to be an archeological site. It was later determined that it was a mass grave in the United Fruit territory.

Those graves were a well-hidden fact that most people don't know about to this day. Most citizens assume something like mass graves simply do not exist here. There is a lot about the dealings of UF that is still a well-kept secret for the public, even for us who had them right in our backyard. There are still hundreds of ex-workers that are living with medical problems caused by UF's chemicals and pesticides. Many of their children are born and deal with serious health issues because of where their parents worked. For those interested in more info, here is a nice link (it's in Spanish) and an interview with an ex-worker, also in Spanish.

Laura Camacho

San Jose, Costa Rica

Mar 4 2008 - 3:56pm

Web Letter

A quick aside to an otherwise spotless book review: it must not be forgotten that the one in eight Irish who died in the potato famine did not die from general famine. Rather, Irish sharecroppers were forced to grow export crops for their landlords and were allowed only the potato to eat. Thousands upon thousands of Irish died in ditches, their mouths stained green from eating grass, while their hard-grown cash crops continued to flow out of the country. The Irish starved in the mid-nineteenth-century, surrounded by food they were not allowed to touch. The blight they suffered was not merely an agricultural one.

Ruthanne Price

Toronto, Ontario

Mar 3 2008 - 9:41pm