Banana Land: Blood, Bullets and Poison

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Bananas are by far the most popular fruit in the United States, but consumers know little about the conditions in which they are produced. Banana Land provides a fascinating and surprising peek behind the curtain into an underworld marked by great turmoil and sacrifice.

Delicious taste aside, the unanimous popularity of the banana lies in its low cost to the consumer; it’s decidedly cheaper than other fruits in the supermarket such as apples or pears. Banana Land lays bare the ultimate result of these low prices in the form of cheap pesticides, abusive labour practices and comprised environmental standards.

As illuminated in the film, the crisis in the banana industry harbours even more nefarious implications than those already cited. The banana business model began in 1899 with the formation of the United Fruit Company (UFC). The company monopolized the industry, attracting investments from wealthy and powerful players throughout the globe, which in turn led to the protection and support of lawmakers in Washington. In order to ensure that bananas would remain the lowest cost fruit on the market, the UFC partnered with repressive regimes throughout Central America. These regimes worked to stifle any objections from the industry’s exploited workers, even in the form of massive bloodshed.

As argued by the film’s esteemed interview subjects, these practices set a precedent which remains intact today. This is evidenced by the Chiquita Corporation’s admitted financial support of the United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia, a paramilitary group which worked to defend the economic interests of the region by violently attacking its opposition.

Handsomely produced and featuring a series of searing interviews with experts who work among the front line of the conflict, Banana Land exposes the inner workings of an industry in which little is known by average consumers. Behind the appealing polish of playful marketing campaigns lies a world fraught with unspeakable violence, corporate and political greed, and egregious violations of the most basic human rights. With great insight and clarity, and unblinking footage of abhorrent working conditions and episodes of violent upheaval, the film paints a vivid portrait of an industry gone bananas.

Directed by: Jason Glaser, Diego Lopez

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