But bananas, like every foodstuff that grows in the Global South and becomes a beloved commodity in the Global North, have a rather sordid history. Scientists and other researchers have agreed that they originated in South Asia and made their way west, eventually landing in the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean, of which Puerto Rico is part, from the Canary Islands in 1516. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that they became an everyday good for consumers in the United States and Europe, at the behest of heavy-handed U.S. companies buying up land in Central America and the Caribbean, where workers were paid little and the fruit companies used their power to sway local governments (which would come to be pejoratively referred to as “banana republics”). Colombian workers for the United Fruit Company, now Chiquita, went on strike in 1928 and were gunned down by the Colombian army, at the behest of U.S. business interests in the region.
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