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"Good dictator, bad dictator: United Fruit Company and Economic Nationalism in Central America in the Twentieth Century"

Marcelo Bucheli


First Author :

Marcelo Bucheli
Business Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business
1206 S. Sixth Street
117 DKH, MC 706
Champaign, IL 61820

Abstract :
The US multinational United Fruit Company has been considered the quintessential representative of American imperialism in Central America. Not only did the company enjoy enormous privileges in that region, but also counted on authoritarian governments in dealing with labor unrest. The literature assumes that United Fruit and the dictators were natural allies due to their opposition to organized unionism. This paper shows that this alliance could only survive as long as the multinational provided the dictators with economic stability for the country. However, when the multinational proved to be incapable of doing that, the dictators allied with the working class to confront the multinational and extract higher rents from it.
Keywords :
Banana Industry, Central America, Costa Rica, Economic Nationalism, Foreign Direct Investment, Guatemala, Honduras, Multinationals and Democracies, Multinationals and Dictatorships, Oil Crisis, Panama, United Fruit Company
Manuscript Received : 2006
Manuscript Published : 2006
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