Week 9: Commerce, Coercion and America’s Empire

This chapter covered the influence of the United States on Latin America.
Although, that’s a massive topic and probably impossible to cover entirely- but I think Dawson gives a pretty good overview with a few different focuses: Bananas, Media, US funded projects.

The in depth explanation of bananas and the UFCO and it’s importance in LA history was very interesting. I specifically liked learning about Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. Arbenz had dreams for Guatemala and noticed that America and the UFCO specifically, were getting in the way of those dreams. Through further research on this topic, I learned that in the 1950’s, the UFCO was earning twice as much money annually than Guatemala, the country itself, was producing in revenue.  Essentially, Arbenz noticed that the USA was exploiting Guatemala and he wanted to stop them. Unfortunately, the USA has intense power and ended up over throwing Arbenz.
In learning about this specific piece of history, I can’t help but think about how so many people in North America view Latin America as a place that needs help and often receives help from the first world, like the USA. The stories about Latin American people rising up and fighting for independence, whether it’s sovereignty for a whole country, or just trying to make the banana trade more equally beneficial for everyone, don’t really get told in North America.
I’d like to learn more and up to date info about how fruit trading works today in Latin America. I know that still, the largest fruit companies operating in LA are US owned and operated. Human rights, workers rights and land rights are still controversial and unjust in a lot of areas in LA where fruit trading happens. I wonder how everything that played out in Guatemala with Arbenz in the 50’s affected what goes on today.

Also, I liked learning briefly about Carlos Finley, the Cuban doctor who figured out that malaria & yellow fever could be attributed to mosquitoes. Later in that specific paragraph, Dawson explains the methods in which cities made improvements to help combat these diseases. It’s amazing to read how effective it was, how this discovery by Finley and innovations implemented in LA reduced the spread of disease and ultimately has saved tons of human life.

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