“Imperialism has not allowed us to achieve

historical normality.”

–Octavio Paz; The Labyrinth of Solitude

 

Capitalism, for many, is a disaster, for a lot, not short of a curse. The greed that capitalism has nurtured in the hearts of those who own the means of production finds easy justification in “Social Darwinism”. One of the bloody episodes that the drive for profits has left recorded in the annals of history is the Banana Massacre in Columbia in 1928.

The Massacre took place in Colombia on December 6th 1928. Unsurprisingly the orchestrator of the massacre was no other country but the United States of America, which shared the Western dream of exploitation of non-western countries. A fruit company too was involved in it, the United Fruit Company. The estimates suggest that around 800 to 5,000 succumbed to bullets that were brushed down on them.

Before the massacre, the banana workers had been organising around several demands such as reparations for injuries at work, mutual insurance, more hygienic sleeping quarters and religious holidays. Communist tendencies among the workers! How can the cheerleader of capitalism allow this? Columbian government knelt before the coercion of the US and sent its army to deal with the workers. The dealing with workers was through bullets.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, it seems, never totally forgot the event, as the United Fruit Company and Banana Massacre find mentions in his novella “Leaf Storm” and Hundred Years of Solitude respectively. The climax of One Hundred Years of Solitude is famously based on a true historical event that took place shortly after García Márquez’s birth in the Magdalena banana zone on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. In the novel, García Márquez uses this event to capture the profane fury of modern capital, so powerful it not only can dispossess land and command soldiers but also control the weather.