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Before our favourite smartphones, tablets, taxi apps and online stores there was the humble banana. This remarkable true story of a Cold War coup warns us that no matter how cheap and convenient our stuff is, there is always a price to pay.
[Warning: contains some images that you might find disturbing]
The title Bananas, Sardines and Sharks is a reference to The Shark and the Sardines, one of the first accounts written about the Guatemalan coup, by Jacobo Arbenz's predecessor Juan José Avéralo, and the first to accuse the American government of being involved.
Now available with French, Spanish, German and Indonesian subtitles!
There are some great books you can read to find out more about United Fruit, Operation Success and even just the humble banana itself.
Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World by Peter Chapman is an entertainingly written primer on United Fruit and their influence.
Banana: The Fruit that Changed the World by Dan Koeppel covers the same ground but also talks about the banana itself in more depth. There were so many interesting facts about bananas that we had to leave out of this essay, and Dan talks about them plus the disease that threatens to make the banana extinct.
Bitter Fruit: the Story of an American Coup in Guatemala by Stephen Schlesinger is a gripping account of the coup in Guatemala itself. It covers Operation Success from both sides in great detail.
After several more scandals United Fruit eventually underwent a huge rebrand and is now known to the world as Chiquita. They are relatively open about the actions of the old corporation. The United Fruit Historical Society is keeping a public record of the old company's history.
Story Design and Direction: Adam Westbrook •
Story Assistance from Guy Gunaratne, Caroline Vanier, Cody Delistraty, David Baboulene and Chris Oatley •
Stock footage: Videohive •
Music: AudioJungle featuring "Someone Else's Memories" by Revolution Void •
Sound Effects: AudioJungle and Freesound. Geiger Counter Clicks by Iwan ‘qubodup’ Gabovitch •
Motion Graphics: Adam Westbrook.
Archive photography: Getty Images, Wikimedia Commons •
"Journey to Bananaland" produced by the William J Ganz Co. via The Prelinger Archives •
Footage of Guatemalan civil war violence from a 1982 documentary The Secret Government available on YouTube •
Footage of Guatemalan grave exhumations from Witness.org via The Prelinger Archives •
Original CIA documents about Operation Success released on the CIA Library •
Chiquita Banana Commercial published by United Fruit 1952, available on YouTube •
Indonesian Subtitles by Farras Octara farrasoctara.com/
Spanish Subtitles by Zuberoa Marcos
German Subtitles by Otiko Bagaturia
French Subtitles by Otiko Bagaturia & Dimitri Paroulava