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i YIELDING TO THE OCTOPUS AN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE, IMPERIALISM, AND LANDLESSNESS IN GUATEMALA BY SOPHIA J. ZIMMERMAN A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies Under the sponsorship of Dr. Anthony Andrews Sarasota, Florida April, 2013
ii I dedicate this thesis to my family. I was blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up in such a unique and beautiful place, and have parents who push me to travel and explore. Mom, thank you for giving me room to learn for myself, and the security of knowing you would always be there to fall back on. Dad, thank you for always knowing what to say and showing me to trust the future and myself. Madeleine, I do not know if I could have done it without you, you are my motivation and my strength. Zachary, you are the only other person who knows what we know. I love you all deeply, but Mom this one's for you.
iii Preface Though I changed several aspects of my topic throughout the thesis process, from the onset, I knew I wanted to concentrate on Guatemala. In the mid 80's, my parents moved to Southern Mexico from San Francisco, ho ping to expose their children to a culture outside of the United States. Due to severe conflict along the Mexico Guatemalan border at the time, they chose to check out the new "it" city in central Guatemala, Antigua We moved back to the States a few mon ths before the 1996 Peace Accords were signed in country. When I got older, I started to wonder why we had left after so many years. I had never experienced any violence while living in Guatemala, and could not imagine it having been the reason we left. After enquiring with my parents, and reviewing some of Guatemala's political history, I found that there were two very disparate narratives. Although there were differing sides to the story, the characters were consistent. One party in particular, the Un ited Fruit Company, was notably influential in Guatemala's development. After looking further, I discovered the level of control United Fruit had over Guatemala's political, economic, and social realms. While attending New College, I began taking enviro nmental courses, and I enjoyed the seemingly fresh interdisciplinary realm in which to discuss otherwise very much researched topics. I came to realize that the environmental approach does not stray far from the approaches of core disciplines (sociology, anthropology, political science, economics), but with
iv the new space outside of the traditional boundaries, one can illuminate alternative perspectives as well methods of addressing these long standing issues. With this thesis, I hoped to explore the diffe rent ways of telling a history, and possibly illuminate a new dynamic that could benefit the people, as well as the environment, of Guatemala. Acknowledgements I would first and foremost like to thank my parents and family for their endless and variant support. My dear Aunt Madeleine, I cannot thank you enough for striking the motivation inside of me before it was too late. A special thanks to my Sponsor/ Academic Advisor Dr. Tony Andrews, for sticking with me throughout this process and helping me rea ch the finish line. I owe tremendous gratitude to Jake Elrod, who spent many long days with me, and spreading his writing wisdom I would not have made it through this process without you. Endless thanks to Olivia Brockmeier for her endless patience and love, and Katie Scussle for helping me stay sane and remembering the value of a little tea and shade.
v TABLE OF CONTENTS DEDICATION ii PREFACE and ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS i ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iv LIST OF FIGURES v ABSTRACT vii CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPT ER II: LITERATURE REVIEW 14 CHAPTER III: COLONIAL AND LIBERAL ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY 23 CHAPTER IV: UNITED FRUI T CO. AN D GUATEMALA 52 CHAPTER V: CONCLUSION: CONSERVATION IN GUATEMALA 75 APPENDICES: FIGURES 85 REFERENCES 89
vi List of Figures (in Appendix) Figure 1: Map of Eco regions in Guatemala ........................................................................90 Figure 2: Map of Conservation Coverage in Guatemala.......................................................91 Figure 3: Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC)......................... ...........................................92
vii YIELDING TO THE OCTOPUS AN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY OF AGRICULTURE, IMPERIALISM, AND LANDLESSNESS IN GUATEMALA Sophia Zimmerman New College of Florida 2013 ABSTRACT Guatemala is home to some of the most diverse and ecologically significan t ecosystems in Central America. Recently, the degrading rainforests and dramatic biodiversity loss has received attention from foreign conservation programs. These circumstances are complex and the stakeholder relationships, whether ecological or human, are often extremely vulnerable. Guatemala's colonial and liberal history analyzed from an ecological perspective, illuminate s aspects of the country's development and produce a more holist ic understanding of current political, social, as well as environmental circumstances. Specific aspects of the country's development, such as the role of agriculture, private industry, and land dispossession, are vital to addressing these environmental is sues. __________________________ Anthony Andrews Division of Social Sciences
1 CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION Though relatively small, Guatemala is home to some of the most diverse and ecologically significant ecosystems in Central America (Guatemala 2006). With mountains and volcanoes in the center, west, and south, and lowland jungles in the north and east, Guatemala is famous world wide for its ecological rarities (Bevan 2011:11). About the size of Tennessee, the total area of the country is approximately 108,889 square kilometers (42,042 m 2 ). In the late 80's and early 90's, foreign environmental groups began developing a wide range of initiatives geared toward protecting these valuable resources within the country. At the top of the agenda for conservation based environmental projects is the quickly degrading rainforest. To the dis appointment of environmental groups, westernized approaches to conservation have proven largely ineffective in addressing this complex issue. Deforestation, or the migration of rural farmers into protected forest areas, is a product of land dynamics that h as developed over centuries in reaction to social, economic, social, and ecological circumstances. These circumstances are consequences of imperialism and the consequent lan d dispossession and inequity, which have characterized much of Guatemala's histor y.
2 For instance, t hough the region is fertile and variant, the availability of arable land to th e general public is limited. Unavailable credit, insecure land tenure, and rampant landlessness, has pushed rural farmers and migrants to these "unclaimed" co nservation areas. Perpetual land dispossession and socio economic marginalization of the Guatemalan people throughout the C olonial and Liberal periods has led t o substantial social inequities and impove rishment of the Guatemalan indigenous population In vestigating the historical roots of environmental issues, specifically the paths of economic development, is imperative in addressing the sensitive circumstances in Guatemala's conservation areas. Without the important context for these situations, these westernized efforts are only contributing to future environmental degradation and cycles of poverty. Beginning in the 19th century, export led growth (ELG) became the model for reaching westernized stan dards for development. The Liberal Guatemalan gover nment quickly picked up the ELG ideology, which brought coffee and large scale agriculture to the country. Companies with the extensive capital necessary to participate in the export industry quickly came to dominate economic decision making within the co untry One of the prime examples of this codependent relationship is the United Fruit Company (UFCo) in Guatemala. In this case, centuries of underdevelopment left the Guatemalan government unable to fund national infrastructure projects vital to develop ing export sector. The government infamously conceded land and control to the company in order to provide funding for public and priva te projects. United Fruit became commonly known as el pulpo or "the octopus" for the w ay it spread its tentacles through out Latin American, and in particular
3 Guatemala. As agriculture soon became central to Guatemalan life and progress, the severe consequences of these relationships would fall largely on the backs of the poor farmers and lower socioeconomic classes. Hi sto rically speaking, agriculture and consequently the environment, have been prominent factors in Guatemala's development. Ecological factors, such as relatively high levels of biodiversity, fertile volcanic soils, the lack of evident precious metals, and the centrality of agriculture to Guatemalan life, are in many cases imperative to understanding Guatemala's economic and social development. Due to these circumstances, I choose to discuss Guatemalan development within the context of the country's environmen tal history. Environmental history is the study of human interaction with the natural world over time (Miller 2007: 5) In contrast to other historical disciplines, it emphasizes the active role nature plays in influencing human affairs. Environmental hi storians tend to study how humans both shape their environment and are shaped by it. Research investigating the role of ecology in Guatemala's development is limited by the availability of substantive environmental records and research, forcing scholars t o look to political, economic, and historical analysis to piece together an "environmental history" ( 2007 : 7 ). Though these aspects of life are essential in the analysis of the country's current ecological and social circumstances, events such as climate, disease, soil variability, and changes in the utilization and perception of the environment have played equally important roles in Guat emala's history. For example, t he chain of thirty seven continually active volcanoes that run from the Mexican border t o the El
4 Salvador an border have provided Guatemala with rich volcanic soils across the surrounding lowlands (Guatemala 2006). Volcanic soils, also known as a ndisols, are formed from volcanic ash and cinder deposits, and are typically very fertile soils. T his unique characteristic makes the volcanic soils perfect for sustaining the diverse ecosystems within country, but has also provided the means for the extensive agricultural activity that has characterized much of Guatemala's history. In the words of env ironmental historian Shawn Miller, "the story would have been much different if nature had stayed out of the narrative" (2007: 135). Geographic Overview Prior to analyzing human ecological dynamics, it is important to review the physical environment of Gua temala (Figure 1). Mountains dominate Guatemala's landscape, with limestone plateaus rolling towards narrow coastal plains. The country consists of five natural areas: Northern Lowlands (Petn region), Caribbean Lowlands (Izabal and Motagua Basins), North western Highlands, Southern Highlands, and Pacific Coastal Plain (Carmack et al. 2007). The Northern Lowlands area is part of a coastal plain that runs along the Gulf Coast of Mexico all the way to South America, and is home to the Petn Lowlands. Vegetat ion in this area is comprised mostly of tropical forest (Carmack et al. 2007: 17). Naturally, temperatures are high and rainfall is heavy year round, wh ile humidity ranges greatly. The fauna in this area includes Neotropical and arboreal mammals and mars upials. There are more than five hundred species of bright feathered birds, including toucans, parrots, and macaws. The waters off the coastline are home to a wide range of marine life ( 2007: 17).
5 In the Caribbean Lowlands, the terrain once again becomes lush and largely filled with banana plantations. A thin piece of Caribbean coastline runs between the Honduran border and Belize but features white sand beaches, swamplands, and some impressive tropical rainforests. Small mountains are interspersed throug hout parts of the region. This region is also home to the Motagua and Izabal Basins. The Motagua River Basin is an especially fertile area of Guatemala because of the volcanic soils, which are carried from the highlands through the water networks, simila r to the Pacific Coastal Plains ( 2007: 17). The Northern Highlands area is covered with high montane humid forest consisting mainly of coniferous pines and oaks, interspersed with high cloud forests on the eastern slopes, as well as subtropical wet and h umid forests at the lower elevations. Most of Guatemala's population lives by subsistence agriculture, and the greatest concentration of its small scale farmers is found in the Central Highlands region, popularly termed the tierra fria or "cold land" (Hig bee 1947: 180). The Southern Highlands is a complex highland area framed by two volcanic mountain chains. The northern chain runs from the Chiapas plateau to the Alta Verapaz mountains of Guatemala, while the southern chain runs from the Sierra Madre of Ch iapas southeast to the Central Highlands of Guatemala (this section is known as "Los Altos" ) and then to eastern Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, and northern Nicaragua (Carmack et al. 2007: 15). The southern chain provides the structural framework f or numerous basins, valleys, and plateaus; the largest of these features include the valley of Quetzaltenango, the Quiche Basin, and the valley of
6 Guatemala. The natural vegetation associated with these areas consists of mountainous oak and pine forest (15 ) Running roughly parallel to and south of the highlands is the Pacific Coastal Plain. This is a rich agricultural area once covered in tropical forest but now home to vast sugarcane and coffee plantations, the latter being on the slopes of the highland zones as they descend into the coastal plain. The Pacific Coast is also home to wetlands, estuaries, mangrove swamps, and beaches. This area is covered with relatively short, fast flowing rivers that lay down smaller levee and delta depositions than in th e Caribbean lowlands. Guatemala has the most extensive tidal swamp zones in the region ( Carmack et al. 2007: 18). The Pacific Coastal Lowlands receive less rainfall than the Caribbean lowlands and consequently have a definitive dry season. The natural v egetation is deciduous forest or thorny scrub in arid areas, while the tidal swamp zones are covered by mangrove forests (18). The fauna is predominantly neo tropical, similar to the Northern Lowlands. These geographical descriptions and the provided map provide the context for the discussion of human ecological interactions throughout this environmental history. Controversial Ecologies and Environmental Myths Considering the intense level of biodiversity within this relatively small country, it is no t surprising that the environment has maintained a substantial role in shaping political, social, and economic development throughout Guatemala's history. Throughout this thesis I attempt to highlight instances where the environment, rather than purely ec onomic or political pressures, influence s certain decisions regarding the country's development choices. In order to present a constructive analysis of this
7 historical process, it is important to contextualize this within a discussion of fundamental theor ies and concepts associated with constructing an environmental history. Throughout thi s review, I will be using terms which are highly controversial, and it is useful and necessary to define and clarify a few before beginning. Robert M. Carmack, Janine L Gasco, and Gary H. Gossen, in their book The Legacy of Mesoamerica: History and Culture of a Native American Civilization, attempt to clarify such historically sensitive terms such as Meso american, Indian, and "conquest Though I primarily use the latt er two in my thesis, the discussion of the terms provides fundamental context. Literally, the term Mesoamerican means "Middle American," and "was at one time used to refer exclusively to the aboriginal cultures of the region," and was for the most part a g eographic reference (Carmack et al. 2007: 6). This is problematic, as many Guatemalans that have resided in the region for centuries had "little or nothing to do with the so called Mesoamerican world" (2007: 6). They avoid using this term in the context of "geographic regions of culture area," and instead define it as "a particular historical tradition of aboriginal cultures and thus a civilization' (2007: 6). The term Indian became especially problematic with the racialization of Guatemala during the Co lonial period, and developed a definite connotation of an indigenous peasant, or lower class citizen. As Carmack et al explain, Columbus, and later Spanish explorers incorrectly applied this term to the native peoples of Mesoamerica and elsewhere in the New World." This was continued throughout the Colonial Period, and was applied to all native citizens throughout Latin America. Many Latin Americans today resent being called "Indians" and argue that the term is
8 not only a misnomer but worse, "a device e mployed by a ruling classes to keep the native peoples in a subordinate and neocolonial social position (2007: 6)." Various alternate labels have been suggested by both scholars and Mesoamericans, such as "aborigine," "indigene," "Native American," generi c ethnic designations, or local community eponyms but all have problematic tendencies Given the controversy, it must be noted that the term "Indian" should be used with care and an effort made to determine how it has been manipulated to further the polit ical and economic in terests of both sides (2007: 6 7). A second additional term that is especially controversial among the indigenous population of Guatemala, is "conquest" (2007: 8). According to many, though many Guatemalans accept that they were inva ded by Spaniards and were defeated in wars against them, they insist that they were never "conquered" by Spaniards or anyone else. In fact, there has never been surrender, only a struggle against aggressors from Colonial times onwards. In agreement with Carmack et al. and several other Latin American scholars, both terms are "universally employed in North American scholarly discourse, and it seem as though it would be overly pedantic to excise them completely from [the] account (2007: 8)." I use the word "conquest" and corresponding "conquistador/ colonizer" as it is universally applied in the social sciences to refer to the unequal military clashes that took place in Latin America during the sixteenth century. I use the term "Indian" in no way to connote racial or cultural inferiority (2007: 9). When conquistadores arrived in Guatemala within the first centuries of the conquest, they had preconceived conceptions of both the environment and the people.
9 Environmental, or in this case, tropical determinis m is the main socio ecological dynamic within human environment and race relations (Miller 2007: 106). Environmental determinists argue that the physical environment limits and determines human behavior and physical make up. This theory is intricately li nked to racism and in many ways is one of the arguments reinforcing racist theory (107). In the early eighteenth century, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz theorized that as all humans descended from the same original parents, their different racial expressions m ust be explained by the environment, specifically the climate (Miller 2007: 107). The fundamental argument of the environmental determinists was that aspects of physical geography influenced the psychological mind set of individuals, which in turn defined the behavior and culture of the society in which those individuals were formed. This was often in the context of "North," where Europeans placed themselves and their ecologies as the most desirable outcome, and "South," where darker skinned people were dee med inferior. Tropical climates were said to cause laziness, relaxed attitudes and promiscuity, while the frequent variability in the weather of the middle latitudes led to more determined and driven work ethics (Andrew 2003 : 814 ). Tropical ecologies, mo re so than other environments, are the target of this projected racism (815) The Pristine Myth only worked to reinforce this thinking. The Pristine Myth depicts the pre contact America s as an unspoiled, sparsely populated wilderness in environmental harm ony and ecological balance (Miller 2007: 9). Productive use of land was limited to European definitions of property and progress. From the perspective of the Spanish, Guatemalans had not worked the land and utilized it
10 efficiently, which was a sign of i gnorance or neglect. The racist mentality was also rooted in Aristotle's theory of Natural Slavery, which suggested that Indians were naturally inferior to whites and their irrational minds, but strong, dark skinned bodies were conducive to labor and serv itude (Carmack et al. 2007: 162). Some proponents of neo colonial development strategies have stated that Guatemalans showed evidence of "scant enthusiasm for developing the lowlands," due to seemingly vacant, untouched "wilderness" (Stanley 2000: 8). Wit h these underlying misnomers and prejudices, the Spanish felt justified in enslaving the people and exploiting the land. Also important in understanding the roots of imperialism, especially ecological, is the ideology that surrounds the act of conquest. T he conquest had strong roots in the Catholic Church. The leaders of Spain believed they had the God given right to dominate non Christian peoples and to bring them to the world of Jesus Christ (Carmack et al. 2007: 155). The fact that the "new" lands were revealed to Columbus while he sailed under the Spanish flag was further proof of divine intent (155). Another factor, the culture of conquest itself, expresses that the Spanish had not "risked their lives crossing the oceans and conquering continents to s imply settle down and subsist as they had in Europe" (Miller 2007: 78). The "conquerors would settle for nothing less than lordships, if not in legal title than at least in practice" (2007: 78). Once Spain had solidified its right to American territory, in vading and conquering was perceived as a just and lawful process of pacification (Carmack et al. 2007:155). Ecological imperialis m describes a more direct relationship between humans and their non human environment, where ecology is the specific but ofte n unaccredited source behind much of the large scale reverberating shifts in political and
11 general histories. Disease was one of the most pivotal ecological factors in Guatemala's colonial environmental history specifically in the Colonial and Liberal Per iods Several years before the Spanish conquerors reached Guatemala in 1524, their arrival in America was heralded to the Guatemalan Indians by a raging epidemic, reportedly smallpox (Jonas 1974: 101). Native populations had very little resistance to the disease and experienced severe psychol ogical effects of watching loved ones die painfully, while the foreigners remained relatively unaffected. Not surprisingly, these factors worked to the full advantage of the conquerors (101). For most of the Colonia l Period, the human population fell well short of one quarter of the pre contact population (Jonas 1974; Miller 2007: 56). As an unexpected result, soils, forests, waters, and wildlife that had been under constant pressure from regular resource extraction and use for millennia got a sudden reprieve (Miller 2007: 56). In the words of environmental historian Shawn Miller, it helped in making the "New World" new. This biodiversity gain is considered one of the primary sources of the Pristine Myth, and provi ded a wide range of plentiful resources for future economic endeavors. This review of fundamental terms and theoretical structures help to frame the following environmental history, and are alluded to in many instances throughout this thesis. They also il luminate possible alternative and compounding factors in the social, cultural, and ecological marginalization of the Guatemalan people and environment throughout the Colonial and Liberal Periods. For example, ecological conditions, such as soil fertility, biodiversity, and in Guatemala's case, the lack of accessible gold and silver at Spanish arrival, have fundamentally shaped Guatemala's development. On the other hand, Guatemala's history of corrupt leaders and conse quent
12 underdevelopment had severely ne gative impacts on land use dynamics socio economic mobility, and overall national development Throughout the Colonial Period Guatemala endured relatively little environmental degradation, and in fact experienced intense biodiversity gain. Due in large part to population shifts catalyzed by disease, violence, resettlement and colonization, the Americas were more heavily forested in 1800 than they had been in 1500 (Miller 2007: 57). This biodiversity gain provided an exquisite landscape with which to pu rsue the export oriented growth strategies associated with Liberal prescriptions for development. One the other hand, the restructuring programs, specifically the Bourbon Reforms, wreaked havoc on the indigenous population of Guatemala. In the Liberal Per iod, these policies enabled the corrupt and cruel Liberal and Conservative dictatorships to facilitate the growth of neo colonial corporate imperialism, which allowed private industry to capitalize on the country's underdevelopment. In this thesis, I arg ue that the Colonial and Liberal histories of Guatemala, analyzed from an ecological perspective, illuminate factors of the country's development and produce a more holistic understanding of current political, social, economic, and environmental circumstan ces. If conservation organizations are going to be involved in Guatemala's land use politics as extensively as they are, it is imperative for these groups to consider the context of these situations. In doing so, activists will not only deter future fore st degradation, but utilize their political and economic power to contribute to the larger picture. It is helpful to think of these relationships as parts of an ecosystem: though aspects seem independent or separate,
13 there is a cycle which connects all or ganism s (issues) together, and change in one aspect will certainly reverberate through all other parts of the ecosystem. The following chapter is a review of the literature on human environment dynamics and environmental justice, and a discussion of the relevance of including the environment in a more holistic history. In Chapter 3, I present an environmental history of the Colonial and Liberal Periods, leading up to the introduction of the United Fruit Company into the country. In Chapter 4, I present the steps the UFCo took in order to maneuver control over Guatemalan politics and eventually the majority of the land. I also present the banana as a particularly detrimental crop for large scale export, and even more so in the case of Guatemala. I concl ude with a look at conservation in Guatemala's Petn, and how factors such as land inequity, agricultural expansion, and unsupportive governments have influenced conservation in the region. Environmental degradation is viewed as the primary obstacle of dev elopment in Guatemala, and appropriate conservation efforts are essential in addressing these serious environmental justice issues (Sundberg 1998: 388).
14 CHAPTER II : POLITICAL ECOLOGY AND EN VIRONMENTAL INEQUALITY : A REVIEW OF PAST LITERATUR E Political Ecology Political ecology was first proposed in Frank Thone's article "Nature Rambling: We Fight for Grass" (1935: 14). Though the term was employed in research regarding human geography and ecology from that point forward, it was not until 1 972 that anthropologist Eric Wolf developed a systematic definition of political ecology in his essay "Ownership and Political Ecology." He discusses aspects of cultural ecology within the context of social, economic, and political conditions. Political ecology, drawing from both cultural ecology and political science, is a field of inquiry that centers on relationships, such as ecological consequences of power and the role of ecology in the dynamics of power inequality (Bates 2005). There has been exten sive research on how these factors affect the developing world (Jonas 1974). The roots of marginalization, the relationships between production and consumption, and the impacts of these relationships on ecosystems are major themes throughout political eco logical research. While there is a breadth of research regarding these complex relationships, there is still much ambiguity in assessing issues of degradation vulnerability and inequity. Recently, authors have attempted to define these terms in an effo rt to facilitate a more informed and productive dialogue regarding the variables and processes of marginalization.
15 In "Assessing the Vulnerability of Social Environmental Systems (2006)," Hallie Eakin and Amy Lynd Luers reviewed the research involving vuln erability and the different methods and perspectives that determine what is meant by vulnerability when considering environments and human environment interactions. Eakin and Luers define vulnerability as "a function of both a system's exposure and sensiti vity to stress and its capacity to absorb or cope with the effects of these stressors" (2006: 366). They also render the definition of vulnerability dependent on the context of whether it is referring to either human or ecological systems (2006: 366). In the context of political economy/ecology, they specify that vulnerability is not an outcome but rather a state or condition of being moderated by existing inequities in resource distribution and access, the control individuals can exert over choices and o pportunities, and historical patterns of social domination and marginalization (2006: 370). This definition unites issues of social and environmental justice and distinguishes vulnerability as a quality that has the potential to contribute to situations o f environmental injustice or inequity, rather than connote a state of being. In "Environmental Inequity Formation (2012)," David Pellow's primary goal is to operationalize or define these terms so that there may be a shared understanding of these basic s ociological concepts. He discusses the subtleties and differentiation of these terms based on scale. For example, environmental racism is an example of environmental injustice which occurs when a particular social group (not necessarily based on race) is burdened with environmental hazards (2012: 582). He defines environmental inequity as focusing on the broader dimensions of the intersection between the environmental quality and social hierarchies; it addresses more structural
16 questions that focus on so cial inequity (the unequal distribution of power and resources in a society) (2012: 582). Recent attention by researchers to these terms marks a substantial step towards a holistic perception of environmental justice issues. Approaches to Assessing the E nvironment Most of the research on environmental inequality in the United States has concentrated on the racially unequal outcomes of environmental decision making. Many scholars have recently pointed out the shortsightedness of isolating singular variabl es of a population's vulnerability such as race while excluding variables such as class, history, and culture. Issues of race cannot be analyzed in a vacuum. Pellow, Eakin and Luers, and many other scholars express the need for a more holistic approach to examining these intersecting dynamics. There is a considerable amount of recent research that builds on theoretical insights from multiple disciplines in which researchers have drawn from a variety of methods and tools to investigate the questions at ha nd (Moran Taylor and Taylor 2010). These hybrid approaches are increasingly producing both new insights into the causes and consequences of vulnerability and innovation in vulnerability metrics. Understanding that the relationship is complex and in need of a diversified approach, Eakin and Luers recommend specific questions based on the variables in analysis and the intended outcome of research that have been employed by much of environmental and sociological research. For "ecological resilience" they re commend beginning with questions such as "Why and how do systems change? What is the capacity to respond to change? and What are the underlying processes that control the ability to cope or
17 adapt?" (Eakin and Luers 2006: 368) These questions are congruent with most of the recent research available regarding vulnerability assessment and assessing environmental issues. For political ecology, they propose that one should concentrate on questions such as "How are people and places affected differently? What e xplains differential capacities to cope and adapt? What are the causes and consequences of differential susceptibility?" (2006: 368). For many researchers, it is common to look at the relationship between individuals, households, social groups, communitie s, and livelihoods to answer these questions (Barbier 1998; Eakin and Luer 2006; Pellow 2012; Liverman and Vilas 2006). Human vulnerability scales range from local, regional, to global, where ecological vulnerability can be shown through attention to land scapes and eco regions. Research employing both of these tactics is vital to correctly assessing the complexities of the human environment interaction and current environmental issues rooted in social problems (Eakin and Luer 2006). Many scholars attemp ting to present ecological or environmental histories have made the mistake of over simplifying circumstances of injustice to singular factors, such as geography or resources. Assessing factors in isolation ignores important aspects of culture, society, p olitics, and economics. It is also problematically deterministic. Jared Diamond, known for his book Guns, Germs, and Steal: the Fates of Human Societies (2005), made the oversimplified argument that the "success" of certain cultures was in largest part d etermined by their geographic location. Though I argue that ecology plays an active and often overlooked role in history and present circumstances, it is important to give equal attention to human influence in history. Looking only to the environment for the root of any circumstance without examining
18 other aspects of a history is as shortsighted as examining a culture or society without considering its ecological contexts. Development, Economy and the Environment Placing Guatemala's history within an en vironmental context illuminates various aspects of its developmental and economic history. Though problematic when taken to the extreme of environmental determinism, political ecology and the development of environmental histories will help advocates and researchers to better address the issues of inequality and the environment. Many scholars have concentrated on the relationship between development and the environment. These scholars seek to identify whether certain prescriptions for economic development promote negative or positive attitudes towards the environment. For example, the impacts of dependency, market dynamics, and political regime on ecological systems and vice versa (Barbier 1997; Jonas 1974; Liverman and Vilas 2006; Shriar 2011: 133; Visci di 20 04). This holistic approach identifying the multiplicity of variables and their possible relationships has been adopted by many researchers studying basic environmental trends (Barbier 1997; Liverman and Vilas 2006; Miller 2007; Shriar 2011: 133; Vis cidi 2004). For example political and economic histories are deeply intertwined with resource and land use, and are very helpful in constructing an environmental history. They are also critical for determining states of environmental inequality or facto rs that contribute to environmental degradation and inequity. Histories involving colonial presence, export and agriculture dependent economies, as well as cycles of social oppression, are more
19 likely to be in such states (Barbier 1997; Jonas 1974; Liverm an and Vilas 2006; Viscidi 2004). In regards to the recent global acknowledgement of biodiversity loss, research shows this trend has also set many obstacles for foreign conservationists attempting traditional approaches to preservation of biodiversity in developing nations (Barbier 1997). There is an agreement among most environmental and sociological literature that poverty, imperfect capital markets, and insecure land tenure reinforces unsustainable land use practices and contributes significantly to en vironmental degradation, the perpetuation of poverty, and inequity. In "Neoliberalism and the Environment in Latin America (2006)," Diana Liverman and Silvina Vilas conclude that liberal (and neoliberal) governments have had profound influences on the envi ronment and on environmental management in Latin America. They argue that the implementation and effects of neoliberal policies on local environments have varied greatly by nation and by place as a result of different political, institutional, economic, en vironmental, and social conditions. For example, neoliberalism and liberalism are based on the employment of market (rather than state ) led solutions to social and environmental problems. These policies promote privatization and commodification of un o wned, state owned, or common property resources. These include forests, water, biodiversity, trade and investment, and transfer of environmental management to local or non governmental institutions (Liverman and Silvina 2006: 328). However, free trade, pr ivatization, and the dismantling of state institutions are perceived to have produced widespread destruction of livelihoods and landscapes to
20 the extent that even promoters of neoliberalism such as the World Bank have attempted to cushion their impact (200 6: 328). Agriculture and Export Economies Agricultural export economies are often associated with neoliberal and liberal policies, as well as histories of colonialism involving poor land distribution and class stratification. Quite a bit of research has been done on the social, cultural, and environmental costs associated with agricultural production and an export oriented economy. The majority of literature is in agreement that "agricultural production is a cultural and risk averse activity" (Moran Tay lor and Taylor 2010: 201). Most researchers look to the late colonial history of Guatemala and of Latin America in general to find the sources of these long standing issues (Barbier 1997; Jonas 1974; Liverman and Vilas 2006; Viscidi 2004). In "A History of Land in Guatemala: Conflict and Hope for Reform," Lisa Viscidi attempts to investigate some of the roots and cycles of the unequal land distribution in Guatemala. Viscidi agrees that issues of land distribution began when the Spanish began to redistrib ute peoples and lands, and continued as liberal dictators usurped the nation's richest soils and exploited the labor force to sell products such as indigo and coffee to European labor markets (2004: 1). The majority of research from both proponents and cri tics of neoliberalism support the correlation between histories of colonial control and eventual liberal or neoliberal policies (Barbier 1997; Jonas 1974; Liverman and Vilas 2006; Viscidi 2004). Reorienting an economy toward exports provided incentive to grow greater quantities of cash crop to compete with market prices and large scale plantations. This
21 transition is widely associated with severe environmental, social, and cultural costs. The majority of scholars employing holistic and interdisciplinary approaches often argue that export based economies produce poverty, hunger, injustice towards women, migration and large scale birth defects due to pesticide poisoning (Duncan 2003: 131). Research also shows that one of the largest impacts of large scale cash crop production is the dependency on imports for domestic products, leading to further dependency on large corporations and core countries (Barbier 1997; Duncan 2003; Liverman and Vilas 2006; Shriar 2011: 133; Viscidi 2004). This type of economy crea tes a climate perfectly suited for international and foreign companies vying to capitalize on abundant labor and inexpensive land. Banana Production and the Environment Many scholars in this field agree that bananas are one of the most labor intensive com modities produced in Latin America and that this aspect of banana cultivation promotes social and environmental inequities such as poor working conditions with year round production in unrelenting climates (Chapman 2007; Cracken 1998; Hernandez and Witter 1996). Since there is very little recent and reliable information regarding the environmental impact the UFCo has had on Guatemala, it is more useful to look at the general impacts of large scale banana production. In many regards, bananas present a diff erent set of characteristics from most large scale cash crops. Most of the research in this area concentrates on the toxic waste associated with these companies and the impact of pesticide and fertilizer use due to depredated soils. In The Impacts of Bana na Plantation Development Carrie
22 McCracken found that the development and success of the banana industry has resulted in the "complete alteration of tropical lowland environments from Mexico south to Panama" (1998: 1). One of the main studies directly per taining to the environmental impact of the company was conducted in Costa Rica, which has had greater success in moving away from its dependency on the company. The main impacts of the monoculture as well as the multinational companies is covered in Evalu ating and Managing the Environmental Impact of Banana Production in Costa Rica: A Systems Approach by Carlos E. Hernandez and Scott G. Witter (1996) which documents detrimental environmental impacts. These include but are not limited to extreme pollution and degradation of water systems, soil, and entire ecosystems. This is from regular use of pesticides and artificial fertilizer, over farming soil, and reorienting ecosystems to grow crops that meet market demands. Including ecology and understanding th e variant ways to analyze human environment relationships is vital to a holistic analysis country's development. This is particularly true in the case of Guatemala, where export agriculture has played a definitive role in limiting the paths of growth. Chap ter 3 is a discussion of political, social, economic, and ecological factors influencing evolution of agriculture and changing land use practices throughout the Colonial and Liberal Period.
23 CHAPTER III : GUATEMALA'S ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY: AGRICULTURE AND DEVELOPMENT IN THE COLONIAL AND LIBERAL PERIODS This chapter reviews the developmental and ecological history of the Colonial and Liberal Periods, leading up to the introduction of the United Fruit Company (UFCo) in Guatemala at the turn of the 20 th century. Guatemala's developmental history, like most in Central America, is intricately ti ed to agriculture, and consequently the environment. This overview will include a review of export crops in Guatemala, an analysis of the restructuring campaigns implemented by the Spanish and Guatemalan government, and the consequent social, political, and economic climate these circumstances created for post independence Guatemala. Agricultural History Historically, agriculture has been the economi c basis for Guatemalan society and prescribed source of development (Jonas 1974: 95). The agricultural sector, currently concentrated in coffee, sugar, and bananas, accounts for nearly 26 % of exports, and half of the labor force (Guatemala 2006) The pr incipal cash crops in Guatemala have been coffee, sugar, bananas, and cotton, followed by hemp, essential oils, and cacao.
24 During the Colonial Period, demand for agricultural exports was low, and production was executed on a small scale, often through seve ral contracted small farmers within local markets. Many refer to the Colonial Period in Guat emala as a "spiritual conquest," where the concentration of Spanish resources was put toward the restructuring of social, political, and governmental structures. I t is not until Guatemala's post ind ependence agricultural industry that we see the more severe alteration and consequent degradation of the Guatemalan environment. With the rise of Liberal regimes, we also see the birth of the coffee industry, and large s cale, often mono crop, plantations ( fincas) These were controlled by the private sector or global imperialist powers, which had little incentive for long term investment in Guatemala, let alone its environment. When the Spanish arrived, their main econ omic interests were finding gold and silver. Guatemala was not as rich in gold and silver as Mexico and Peru, so they began looking for alternative products for European and Spanish markets (Viscidi 2004: 1). Concentrating on what they knew, the Spanish began exporting agricultural, mineral and forest products during the Colonial Period. Anything that might compete with Spanish products was out of the question, so the Spanish settled on indigo, cocoa, and cotton. While they were locally grown, traded, and consumed, a sizeable portion of the production was exported primarily for European markets. Cocoa is a traditional crop in Guatemala, and during the 15th and 16th century, the beans were utilized as local currency. Though cocoa was valued within Gua temala, it did not have a substantial global demand. By the 16th century, indigo financed the bulk of Guatemala's import trade, and at its peak it brought in two million pesos
25 annually. In the case of indigo, the Spanish had to work and collaborate with Indians in order to learn the specific methods of cultivation, extraction, and dying. The largest indigo plantations were located on the Pacific coastal plain, and extended down to Nicaragua. Cotton and bananas were also cultivated in those regions. Muc h of the production was on native lands; the Spanish did not want to live or work in these conditions and would often rather pick up large quantities of finished product from Indian merchants. This process postponed the export industry from the problematic labor circumstances of haciendas and plantations. Prior to coffee, most of production was in the hands of the local farmers, and though trade was often unfair, this limited the Spanish's control over production and labor conditions (Smith 1959: 181 82). Ecology Shifting dynamics in population and land u se were the predominate factors contributing to Guatemala's environmental condition during Spanish occupation. Though the Spanish came to discover a "New World," they brought with them an abundance of Old World goods and products such as plants, animals, and diseases. The Columbian Exchange, also known as the Grand Exchange, was a dramatically widespread exchange of animals, plants, culture, human populations, communicable disease, and ideas between the We stern and Eastern Hemispheres following the voyage to the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492 (Crosby 1972). For Guatemala, and much of Latin America, the exchange was not of equal magnitude. Exportation from the Old World to the New World was substa ntially more extensive than from the New World to the Old (Miller 2007: 62). The Old World received very
26 little from Guatemala, where Guatemala received cows, pigs, sheep, horses, goats, asses, chickens, geese, cats, and rats and new varieties of dogs, du cks, and honey bees (62). One of the most pivotal items of this exchange was disease, specifically smallpox. Smallpox reached Guatemala before the Spanish in 1520, and within a century it had diminished the population to less than one fifth of its pre con tact size. This created a scarcely populated land, which is a source of the Pristine Myth. During this time, Guatemala was scarcely populated and there was very little competition for land or resources. Land dispossession in the form and scale seen in th e later periods of Guatemalan history is largely absent during the Colonial Period. This is not to say that the circumstances surrounding the land dispossession at this time were fair or just. There was substantial land to be had, and natives avoiding Spa nish control often moved to surrounding territories. Also, the Spanish, in most cases were much less familiar with the Guatemalan landscape, especially tropical environments or any "wilderness" areas. Though the conception of Guatemala as a pristine, sca rcely populated environment became problematic in the Liberal Period with the acceleration of agriculture and greed of capitalism, it worked to the advantage of the Indian population of Guatemala during this period. The Europeans' economic endeavors also gained from the abundance of resources, as well as the diminished native population. One method to work with such a small and scattered population was congregacin or reduccin, or reduction settlements. These terms refer to the massive relocation of indig enous populations of the Americas by Spain during the 16th century as well as the settlement towns constructed to house them. By consolidating the
27 previously scattered populations, Spain was able to rule more easily and efficiently. They were implemented with the intention of aiding the clergy towards the goal of "civilizing" previously dispersed native populations by congregating them into new, densely populated villages where their activities could be more easily monitored (Carmack et al 2007: 188). Th e resettlement programs, though largely unsuccessful, can be analyzed in relation to the environment The possible impacts include loss of community, local ecology and the subsistence practices in congruence with learned ecologies. The sense of place and s tructure of towns was shifted towards Spanish ideals. Sociologist Thomas F. Gieryn argues that "place is not merely a setting or back drop, but an energetic player in the game a force with detectable and independent effects on social life" (2000:466). I n regards to agriculture, Guatemalans often had to change their practices or even what they planted to better match the varied climates and ecologies of the country. The loss in population due to disease also severely impacted the dynamics of the restructu ring campaigns enforced by the Spanish. Primarily, from the perspective of the Spanish, a smaller population was simply more manageable and worked in favor of their goals of conquest. Also, the reduced numbers diminished the chances of successful rebellio ns. Restructuring the People The social, economic, and political structure of pre Hispanic Guatemala was at least as complex as that of medieval Europe. It was based on a complex division of
28 labor and specialization, including peasants, artisans, merch ants, priests, and warriors. Contrary to overarching misconceptions, Mayans and other Guatemalan groups did not co exist in a peaceful utopia prior to the Spanish, and the privileged elite of Mayan society supported itself through forced labor and tribute of the masses There was a clear division betwee n "nobles" and "commoners and there was even an active slave trade (Jonas 1974: 96 97). But as the Spanish came in, it was obvious that exploitation of the Guatemalan population was brought to a complete ly different level. The Crown's strategies for managing and profiting from its empire were based on maintaining strict monopolistic powers over the movement of goods and people between Spain and its colonies. With very little gold and other precious metal s in Guatemala, humans were the most plentiful and readily accessible resource. The Crown reoriented the variant communities in such a way as to establish an indirect rule over the colonies in Guatemala. In doing so, the colonial administration incorpora ted the native community into its structure and regulation, and ensured the survival of the institution (Carmack et al. 2007: 183; Foster 2007). According to many researchers, the survival of Spanish institutions hinged on their utilization of indirect rul e through pre established Guatemalan communities and networks to enforce and regulate these new systems. Some speculate that the Guatemalan people would most likely not have tolerated the complete dissolution of their communities and institutions, and that the Spanish would have experienced much stronger rebellion and resistance, or could have even been driven out altogether (Carmack et al. 2007: 203). In the early years of the restructuring indirect rule was vital to the implementation and reception of Spa nish ideals and structures.
29 The Spanish needed a system of collecting tribute and profit from their new colony. The encomienda system was the first attempt to collect tribute and was introduced in the 16th century in Guatemala. As an incentive, this syst em also was designed as a reward to colonists and Spaniards for their service to the King by assigning to them the tribute and labor of a given group of Indians, usually from one or more towns (2007: 183). An individual who held an encomienda grant was an encomendero (2007: 156). Indians were required to pay annual tribute either directly to the Crown or to their encomenderos (2007: 188). This group formed a local aristocracy, which contributed to the development of problematic hierarchies based on race, he ritage, and geographic location. The Spanish descendants of encomenderos came to constitute a gentry, or small elite group living off the work of a large subject population (2007: 160). Though they often disregarded and abused their power, encomenderos wer e also charged with overseeing religious instruction of the native groups. Their charges were often forced into labor or other abuses, such as beatings, rapes, and murders (2007:156). The encomienda system essentially functioned as a legal form of Indian slavery (Jonas 1974: 114). This system placed a significant portion of the production of the land in the hands of the Spanish elite, and created a centralized workforce, which made large scale indigo production possible. Though they did not directly ow n the land, the encomenderos had access to the resources and the ability to watch over the activities of the village, which gave them substantial influence over land use. As the severity of Indian exploitation rose with the popularity of the encomienda s ystem, the conversation of human and Indian rights was brought to the
30 surface. According to Shawn Miller, the Crown denied ever giving conquerors the explicit right to enslave Indians (Carmack et al. 2007: 69). The king took a strong hand in protecting t he lands and villages of his new subjects and prohibited Spaniards from living among Indian communities. Regardless, the crown was often late and not always successful in its attempts to protect Indian persons and property (2007: 69). From this violence c ame the conception of a human rights campaign for the Indians. There were two popular perspectives regarding Indian rights at the time. One propagated the message of peace and anti colonialism, while the other justified violence and colonialism (2007: 163 ). Coming to the defense of Indian rights was Spanish adventurer turned Dominican priest Bartolom de Las Casas. Las Casas had come to view the entire Spanish enterprise in America as unjust and illegal (2007:161). He was inspired by well known Dominican priest named Antonio de Montesinos, who stood up for Indian rights in the Caribbean. In a famous sermon to the Spanish colonists of Hispaniola, he asked them "Are these Indians not humans? Do they not have rational souls? Are you not obliged to love them as you love yourselves?" (2007:161). The encomenderos were outraged at being criticized for their behavior, but many, like Las Casas, were inspired to make their voices heard. Like other religious figures, Las Casas studied native communities and conclu ded that the Indians were civilized people with full rights to their own territories; they were not irrational or otherwise mentally deficient (2007: 161). He argued that though Spanish customs and beliefs differed or were challenged by New World practice s, however shocking, they did not provide grounds for invasion and conquest. But the pro Indian movement's most effective argument was not based on the belief in human equality,
31 but on legalistic principles (2007: 163). Las Casa's argued that Spain could not claim jurisdiction over a territory while simultaneously enslaving its inhabitants, any more than the Spanish king could arbitrarily enslave citizens of his own nation. Ultimately, the campaign was phrased in terms of Christian religion and tended to take a paternalistic view of Indians as helpless victims (2007 : 161) Charles V, disconcerted by the assertions of Las Casas, gathered a group of theologians to present both sides of the issue. Las Casas' opponent was Juan Gins de Seplveda a prominent theologian and historian (2007: 162). Seplveda based his argument on the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle's theory on natural slavery which expresses that some people are slaves by nature, rather than by political or economic circumstance. It was u sed to both secure the morality of enslaving non Europeans and provide the foundation for the uses of slaves (Smith 1983: 109). It was with this that the Spanish found it justifiable to conclude that Indians were by nature brutish and irrational and there fore inferior to Europeans. Further, they not only had the right to conquer and enslave these people, but Indians would actually benefit from their presence by being provided with superior behavioral models ( Carmack et al 2007 ). This debate did little to improve the Indian rights situation in t he New World, though it left an impact on the state of the encomienda system. In reaction to this, the Crown put in place laws to regulate the system and work towards the elimination of the system altogether. The N ew Laws of 1542 and 1543 were an attempt to develop protocol on how to treat slaves, and deter abuse of the natives. Simply stated, the laws prohibited slavery of Indians, regulated tribute that could be given in encomiendas,
32 and forbade the granting of n ew encomiendas and future inheritance of encomiendas. This was of course met with outrage from the colonists in Guatemala, and in most cases the third mandate was simply not enforced (Carmack et al. 2007: 183 84). This lack of stability influenced Spain to form governing structures in the territories based on the organization of government in Spain. During the 16th century, Spain did not practice separation of church and state. There were five parts of government: civil, judicial, military, treasury, a nd ecclesiastical (the last two overlap). The Council of the Indies was charged with overseeing New World possessions, and sent out viceroys as delegates. Within the viceroys was a smaller jurisdiction of Audiencias ruled by a group of Crown appointed j udges. Guatemala fell under this jurisdiction in 1543. Through this multilayered government, Indians were allowed to co govern in many cases, though with great disadvantage. In reality, it gave Indians and the Crown the false notion that Guatemalans had power with which to govern their lives outside of Colonial constraint, without actually providing any outlets for complaints or recommendations from the community. As was the case with indirect rule, this functioned as a method to maintain control and av oid rebellion without actually providing Indians any sense of autonomy, let alone control over sociopolitical circumstances. Though this debate brought to light crucial aspects of the human rights issue, it did not do much to change the injustice in the sy stem. Spain was in an economic down fall and was in need of substantial profits from their colonial ventures. With the coming change in dynasties came new programs designed to better control and exploit Guatemalans.
33 Bourbon Change In the eighteenth cent ury the French Bourbon dynasty replaced the Habsburg dynasty on the Spanish throne, and the administrative organization of Spain and its colonies was overhauled (Carmack et al. 2007: 184). There were three major aspects of this reform which had long term impacts on Guatemalan life: economic control, military development, and secularization of the governme nt. These changes laid the groundwork for the new levels of exploitation and towards the ir Liberal future Economically, the reforms expedited the coll ection of taxes. In 1778, King Charles III establi shed the "Decree of Free Trade," in order for Spain to trade directly with Guatemala, and for Guatemala to trade with other Spanish colonies. In 1786, he introduced the intendencia system to the colonies i n an effort to replace the encomienda system, cultivate a more direct rule, and maximize profits. This did not totally eliminate the encomiendas, as they continued to operate in remote areas of the Spanish domain. The Crown often revoked encomiendas, but most were passed on from generation to generation throughout the eighteenth century (2007: 187). In many cases, intendants replaced previous community member positions and crosscut previous divisions. One of the more problematic elements of this system w as that intendants were required to be Spanish born, and they reported directly to officials in Spain (2007: 184). This worked to socially organize while simultaneously stripping Indians of any perceived agency in their lives. Prior to the Bourbon Reforms the Guatemalan military was operational at best, and in most cases scattered and inconsistent. The new King created an organized
34 militia in order to help enforce the regime change. One vital aspect of this conception is that the first military leaders were to be appointed directly from Spain, preferably with military experience. These positions came with power within the colonies, and criollos slowly began to take positions as well. Further, these positions were determined on a racial basis and Indians were rarely admitted. This development becomes more relevant to the military use of the Liberal Period, but was commonly utilized in the Colonial Period to enforce these reforms. An especially influential aspect of the Bourbon Reforms was the seculari zation of the government. Prior to th is, many religious leaders held political offices and the church had quite a bit of influence over the government's decisions. The new Bourbon King instead preferred to appoint government positions to military office rs directly from Spain, or at very least criollo The church was in many cases an advocate for Indian rights. Leaders hip positions previously held by church officials were also handed to military officers. Without the church, the growing military presence created unrest between Spanish and Guatemalans. The Crown was reportedly torn between the genuine feeling of obligation to promote the wellbeing of the Indians, and their ultimate desire to generate revenues from the colonies (Miller 2007). Ultimately, t he crown needed native labor to support Spanish enterprises, and enforced repartimientos or forced labor drafts, in order to provide a work force. Repartimientos were especially popular in Guatemala (and Mexico) due to the large indigenous population. T he repartimiento was in large part influential in social circumstances, but in terms of economics, it marked the beginning of an unfair system of trade and exchange. Under repartimiento, Indian communities
35 were required to provide labor for public project s such as construction, agricultural work, mining, and service as porters (Carmack et al 2007; Jonas 1974). Though the law required they be paid, the work relationship was often abused. Spanish officials often deemed private investments as public, as wel l as cheating Indians out of the wages they had earned (Carmack et al. 2007:187). In some circumstances, workers would receive adequate amounts of goods for their work. Agricultural work in particular was known for its violence and ill treatment of the In dian workers. In most cases, no tools were provided (as promised), and there wa s no opportunity for "sick days If one could not work, they had to either make up the work day at another time, or would have to pay in another form in order to meet tribute demands. Wealthy Indians could often avoid forced labor through bribery, and the majority of this burden fell on the backs of the poor rural population. Fundamentally, the drafts were utilized to exploit the native labor with little regard to the debate o f human and Indian rights. More vulnerable populations, such as the rural poor, worked up to two weeks out of every month. Workers' health would often deteriorate and it was common that they were forced to neglect their own crops and tribute payments. Di scussion The accumulation and c ontrol of land and labor, r ather than the exploitation of the environment itself, was the central concern of colonial authorities. With the gradual demise of the encomienda system Spanish access to large tracts of land shif ted to outright ownership of landed estates, and what would eventually become known as haciendas (2007: 188). In Guatemala, the growth of haciendas was achieved
36 at the expense of native communities as Spaniards took control of what were formerly Indian la nds. In theory, official policies denied Spaniards from outright taking the land. Indian nobles or leaders sometimes willingly sold property to the Spanish. But they also acquired the lands by a variety of less than fair means The issue with acquiring land in this manner is that these lands were often communally owned, even between multiple communities, and could not be sold by any individual on behalf of a community, regardless of their position (2007: 189). In many cases, Indian nobility watched as t heir wealth diminished and communal lands were appropriated by non Indians (2007: 205). Another common method of acc umulating land in the Colonial P eriod (and throughout Guatemala's history) involved the Crown's policy of selling lands deemed vacant, or te rrenos baldios The demographic collapse of the Guatemalan population due to disease and violence left many areas with low population densities Lands that were deemed under populated, even though they might have been used for communal hunting or fallowin g purposes, could be declared vacant and "legally" sold to Spaniards. This method was even mor e prominent during the Liberal P eriod, and was practiced under much more devastating circumstances. Reduction settlements were also employed to ensure vacant la nds Once a community was relocated to another area, it could be considered unoccupied, and be taken under the control of the Crown (2007: 189 200). There are many social dynamics that shifted due to Spanish presence, specifically the introduction of vari ed ethnicities and races. The conquest shifted the expression of socio economic power from one based on physical alteration and
37 material possession, to one based on race. According to many scholars, the expression of social and economic power prior to Span ish insurgence was through body manipulation, such as decorative piercing or jewelry, and accumulation of wealth. Once the Spanish had begun to incorporate themselves into Guatemalan society, Guatemalans and Indians were judged based on their skin color. Concentrating on deterministic physical characteristics, rather than characteristics that can be changed, such as economic standing and personal body decoration, not only placed the Indian's and dark skinned populations' at the bottom rung of the socio ec onomic ladder, but also restricted their mobility. As management of resources was handed over to Spaniards, even Indian nobles lost political and social power. As race became central to Guatemalan power dynamics, many Indian nobles chose to marry Spaniar ds in order to whiten their skin and increase their socio economic status and upward mobility. "Whitening in most regards, was the only way Indians could change their status, and move up in an increasingly racialized country. Further limiting the socia l and economic mobility was the evolving tribute system in Guatemala. Payments in money gradually replaced payments in goods. Guatemalans were forced to trade with Spanish in order to meet tribute demands, often under very unfair circumstances. Obrajes were a common type of transaction between natives and the Spanish. Communities and individual workers were often sold raw materials such as cotton or a less available medium, by the Spanish at a high price and had to sell back the finished product for a much lower price than market value. By the mid eighteenth century, payment in goods was made completely illegal.
38 Under the guise of both evangelization and the restructuring campaigns, the Spanish facilitated the marginalization of the Guatemalan people. This limited the mobility of the Indian population and laid the groundwork for cycles of marginalization and socioeconomic stratification. Historian Nancy Francis described Indian life under colonial rule as "the collective enterprise of survival" (Francis 1984). Unfortunately, the Liberal Period brought a new reign of terror to the country. Dictators pushed export oriented growth, and compromised national social and economic progress by subordinating the economy to external dependency. Liberal Period T here were many events and factors involved in the transfer of coffee from the Caribbean to Guatemala. In the early 1800s, Guatemala's indigo plantations were devastated by locusts, and in 1774, a European chemist developed a synthetic chemical blue dye. By 1834 large scale production made it impossible for indigo to compete in the European market (Marrow 2009; Smith 1959: 201). With the decline in indigo exports, the Spanish sought a new product to fill the niche. In this case, the environment had much to do with this decision. The Caribbean went through a long period of strong weather, experiencing three major hurricanes in 1842, 1844, and 1846. Agricultural production plummeted in the Caribbean, but Cuba's economy was hit the hardest. Cotton fell drast ically, however it was coffee that took the greatest hit. The winds not only shattered the coffee trees, but also the palms and natural ceiba trees that shaded Cuba's quality coffee groves. Before the round of hurricanes, Cuba's economy was dominated by coffee (the value of coffee tripled that of sugar). After
39 1846, as hard as it was to let go, coffee planters bowed out and began concentrating their efforts on sugar production (Miller 2004: 122). Coffee plants took years to mature and produce a first cro p, where sugar, though it was vulnerable to strong hurricanes, could be re planted and harvested for cash within a year. Coffee exports fell by more than 90 percent from 1840 to 1858 in Cuba, and sugar took over the Caribbean. The void in the coffee mark et was quickly mitigated by a decision to move coffee production to the mainland, specifically Guatemala (Miller 2007: 112). This shift in the market brought the birth of large scale coffee industry in Guatemala. With switching to coffee production, there was a larger need for concentrated land and cheap labor, as well as transportation infrastructure. Coffee is grown on low altitude highland plantations on the Pacific; most of the bananas are produced along the Atlantic coastal plain. The change in relatio nship between land, agriculture, and agriculturalists (farmers), led to a shift in power structure surrounding land tenure, infrastructure, credit, and labor. This also marks the point when the United States began investing in the coffee business, and cons equently, its involvement in Guatemalan politics (Jonas 1997). The government played a large role in the development of coffee, and went to great and violent lengths to secure arable land and inexpensive labor in order to secure Guatemala's place in the in ternational market. Agrarian reform, military force (some say a police state), unification of military and government forces, privatization and development of monopolies, all created an atmosphere of severe repression for all but the ruling class was from the mid 19 th century onwards.
40 Guatemala was first invaded by Spain in 1524 Four years later, Pedro Alvarado formally defeated the Guatemalans and established Spanish rule. It would take nearly three centuries after this for Guatemala to drive out its i nvaders and declare itself independent from Spanish rule. By that point, however, many of the woes of colonialism were already entrenched in Guatemalan society. The racism, inequitable distribution of land and wealth, and the general suppression of civil a nd political rights experienced under Spanish rule were only exacerbated during the Liberal P eriod. C onsequences of the Bourbon Reforms, the growth of cities and markets, and land dispossession are necessary factors in understanding Guatemala's dev elopment through this period. The Bourbon Reform implemented in the Colonial Period introduced the ideology of "free trade" to Guatemala. Liberal ideology only reinforced free trade in Guatemala, as le aders continued to increase the involvement in exports, as we ll as their dependency on market demands. The decision to liberalize the Guatemalan economy and diversify the export base ultimately facilitated the growth of an export orie nted agricultural economy in Guatemala. These reforms also included reducing the p ower of the church and their involvement within government. The secularization of the government in conjunction with the development of a militia and the insurgence of military officers into leadership positions facilitated the military dictatorships and p olice states throughout the Liberal Period. The rise of urban population and consequent city development projects influenced agricultural circumstances in the country. In Guatemala, accelerated population growth and urban sprawl did not take place until t he end of the 19th
41 century, though it did so at accelerated rates. As Guatemala developed on the path of an agricu ltural economy and society, birth rates only increased. In societies with an economic dependence on agriculture and most of the labor force heavily committed to agriculture, government (and ecclesiastical) policies encourage the growth of families to increase the labor pool. The spike in population at the turn of the century triggered an increase in demand for and production of agricultural pr oducts and crops for exports. The rise in the urban population put further pressure on the rural ecology and its population to provide not only the food to feed to the urban population, but also crops needed to fuel the export economy. With the introducti on of the hacienda system, problematic work relationships developed between the working class and the elite class. Debt servitude and sharecropping laid the foundation for a problematic and unfair working environment throughout Guatemala's history. Debt servitude was a strategy used by hacienda owners to entrap workers in low paid, long term working contracts (Carmack et al. 2007: 189). In this agreement, workers would receive wages in advance, and were required to remain on the hacienda until their debt was paid in full (2007: 200). Owners regularly limited their pay to keep the workers longer, or the workers would develop progressively more debt while on the hacienda and prolong their sentence. In other cases, sharecropping arrangements provided labore rs with access to a portion of the hacienda lands to cultivate in exchange for handing over part of their crop and perhaps providing the owner with other services (2007: 189). Policies that led to land dispossession were vital in maintaining agricultural projects in the country, and also reinforced the marginalization of the Guatemalan
42 people. Systematically denied access to land in the countryside, the majority of Indians and Ladinos worked on the haciendas for salary or rented land on the property. Thou gh there were many different methods in which the government and elite individuals accumulated land, vagrancy laws were the main way to collect lands. There were also many means by which lands could be declared vacant. Aside from the resettlement program s, where communities were relocated and their previous lands could be deemed vacant, the Liberal Period presented much more violent means to accumulate lands. The story of land dispossession is better told in the context of the string of Liberal dictatorsh ips, the coffee boom, and private industry's establishment in and take over of Guatemala's political and economic spheres. There were many facets to the issue of land dispossession in this p eriod, but two central aspects were the acquisition of land for pu blic and pri vate projects ( an increasing amount of w hich were agricultural projects), and the acquisition of land in order to control the Guatemalan people and strip them of power. By the 1820's, Spanish colonial policy in Guatemala had established the bas ic syndrome of capitalist underdevelopment: mono export, extreme concentration of wealth juxtaposed with extreme poverty, decapitalization of all save some foreign investors and a few elite families, and a lack of transportation and port facilities. At thi s time, the ideology behind "free trade" was spreading through Guatemala, which was a guise for the British monopoly over Guatemala exports and imports. The exports primarily cochineal, indigo, and cotton were transported to Europe in order to fuel thei r industrial revolution and textile boom, while yet again, Guatemala failed to gain much from the relationship.
43 Guatemala got its first taste of Liberalism during the 1831 8 regime of an upper class criollo intellectual and financier, Mariano Glvez. Whil e he enacted a number of progressive reforms, he also created the prerequisites for economic development through legislation that was intended to facilitate and rationalize exploitation of the land for building communication and transportation networks. R egrettably, these networks were designed exclusively for trade and agricultural routes, and the general public had little to gain from this type of infrastructure. The Galvez administration needed access to the lands for the projects and was able to manipu late the system in order to do it by barely "legal" means. His "agrarian reform" created mechanisms for the transfer of unused public land and l and formerly held by the church into private hands. This was often done on b ehalf of indigenous communities w hich as I previously discussed, provided the means for confusion over land holding and corruption in the selling process. M assive colonization schemes to open up va st areas of unused public land were a central aspect to Galvez's land policy. A vital asp ect of "free trade" in Guatemala was the promotion of private and foreign industry in the country. In theory, this would have promoted employment opportunities, fueled investments in government national projects, and boost ed the country's export industry. Industry was welcomed into the country under any and all circumstances, and in return the companies obtained free and exclusive use of all the rights of Guatemalan citizens (1974: 124). Aside from cheap and abundant labor, they also received exemption fro m almost all taxes, export and import duties, and from military service, for twenty years. This was intended to create an appropriate climate
44 for growing industry in Guatemala, as well as encouraging these companies to invest in public infrastructure for t he country. In his search for shortcuts to development, Glvez (and this is true for most Guatemalan dictators) attempted to "civilize" and whiten the population by encouraging the immigration of Europeans as colonists. One company alone, the Eastern Coa st of Central America Commercial and Agricultural Company, owned by an Englishman, received fifteen million acres more than half of Guatemala (Jonas 1974: 125). This was one of the first and largest land concessions in Guatemala's history. The few initia l immigrant communities (mostly German) and infrastructure projects soon collapsed and Guatemala was left with nothing from their investment. That Glvez should have even expected monopolistic foreign enterprise to aid in Guatemalan development indicates the basic contradiction of the Liberal ideologies surrounding the relationship between economic and social development. Public lands were also very difficult to protect from ending up in the hands of the corrupt government. Within a period of six months in 1834, the government of Guatemala approved a series of colonization agreements that stripped the state of virtually its entire public domain. The concessions granted away virtually all the unoccupied public lands contained within the three great northern departments that comprised about three fourths of the total area of the state (Jonas 1974: 124: Griffith 1965: 32) Catastrophic events such as disease and natural disaster have also served as opportunities for the government to excuse violent means of lan d dispossession. In 1837, a cholera epidemic created severe unrest in the country. This "emergency"
45 served as an excuse for suspension of constitutional guarantees, imposition of martial law, and burning of villages in the affected areas. At this point, Galvez became known a s a dictator, supported by the l iberal age nda and ideology, and met large scale resistance from Guatemalans. The colonization venture, particularly its preferential treatment of foreigners and inequitable cessions of unlimited logging rights in the best land in Guatemala, made him an easy target for widespread nationalism, and caused active unrest in eastern Guatemala. The Glvez regime was finally toppled in January 1838 by the armed guerrilla movement led by Rafael Carrera, who beca me known for simi larly detrimental Liberal prescriptions for development (Jonas 1974: 126). Soon after Galvez's decline, the highland states attempted to secede. In order to secure the governments ability to pacify future insurgencies, formal military and police forces were strengthened yet again. The 1851 constitutio n centralized authority of the p residency and Carrera was made President for life in 1855 In some regards, Carrera's twenty six year regime represented a restoration of the pre Liberal era in Guatemala, as its power base was in the highlands, it was conservativ e, pro Indian and pro Church. By 1852, Carrera put the life and development of Guatemala back into the hands of the church, as well as the established mercantile bourgeoisie. By 1852 the church obtained most of its old privileges, notably diezmos (a ecclesiastical tax from Middle Age Spain), much of its property, and control over education. These institutions were entrusted with collecting state revenues, formulating economic policy and stimulating new areas of production and infrastructure (Jonas 1974:128). Again, this was exclusively geared towards promoting the coffee industry.
46 Cochineal, like indigo, was grown for export and was dependent on market demand. The invention of chea p chemical dyes in the 1850's brought a quick end to the Guatemalan cochineal industry (Jonas 1974: 128). The decline of cochineal stimulated interest in diversifying Guatemalan crops: primarily sugar, cotton, and coffee. In the 1860's, sugar created a sm all boom in the market. During the United States Civil War the market experienced a cotton boom that lasted as long as the war, another example of the precariousness of dependence on fluctuating world markets. Textile manufacturing, which supplied the d omestic market in c olonial times, had been wiped out by cheaper British textile imports shortly after independence. Greater prosperity, changing tastes, technological advances, and lower transport costs created a new demand for coffee. For Guatemala, th is signified a shift from a mono export economy based on cochineal to one based primarily on coffee. It was thought that coffee was the only option for salvation from chronic economic stagnation, and the government worked to ensure its success. The gover nment began providing economic incentives to encourage the production of coffee as a commercial good. In 1859, approximately 400 quintales (quintal=100 lb.) of coffee were exported to Europe' and in 1860, coffee exports nearly tripled to 1100 quintales. In 1868 the government instituted a program that distributed more than one million seedlings to rural farmers (Weller 2009). The coffee industry solidified the triumph of Liberalism and with large scale production of coffee also came basic reforms in four a reas: land tenure, infrastructure, credit, and labor. The shift to a coffee economy made possible a necessary adjustment of the social order inherited from the C olonial Period Whereas indigo and cochineal had
47 been grown by thousands of small and medium producers, coffee required large expanses of land with ownership concentrated in a relatively small group. From the very outset, Germans and other foreign interests financed coffee growing, processin g and trade. Consequently, during market fluctuations pa rticularly the coffee crisis Guatemalan producers were often forced to sell out to their creditors. With the rise of foreign control over land and resources Guatemala's development was increasingly dependent on foreign sources of capital. Infrastructure included the building of transport and port facilities, though most were designed to assist the coffee trade. Coffee, unlike previous export crops, required concentration of cheap labor power. The coffee industry grew as demand in Europe and in the Uni ted States rose in the 1870's (Jonas 1974: 132 140; Jones 1940). With coffee came the establishment of banks in Guatemala. Credit was developed for initial investment and working capital, though they were limited to those who were growing coffee, and many small coffee growers were contracted by larger plantations. These were primarily intended for wealthy investors, many of which had access to credit in Europe and the United States. With very little credit available for Guatemalans, small and medium produ cers were forced to sell out to the financial mercantile interests. Many mark the disappearance of small farmers and the proletarianization of the countryside as one of the most important forms of downward social mobility. Coffee production more than quint upled in the last quarter of the century, far outstripping the growth in population, and employing an increasing percentage of the labor force (Barbier 1997) Even still, this did not increase capital revenues for most
48 sectors ; more so than most crops, co ffee was vulnerable to fluctuating market demands. For Guatemala, these fluctuations brought periodic unemployment, food crises, monetary chaos, and chronic shortages of public revenues (1997: 132). During this time, there was a consolidation of monopoly capitalism, the concentration of capital into the hands of a few (Jonas 1974: 133). The rise of the United States at this time as a world power not only replaced European hegemony, but signified a reinforcement and a shift in the nature of Guatemalan dep endency and underdevelopment. Though Carrera promised an outlet for the rural poor into the middle class, it was difficult as the counter depended on cheap marginalized labor force for economic development. Guatemala's economy, concentrated in exports r egulated by foreign rather than domestic interests, would be ruled by foreign managers and global markets. When coffee took control of Guatemalan agriculture, it marked a point at which export demands would take precedent over the needs of Guatemala and i ts people (1974: 132). When Carrera died in 1865, there were six years of Conservative rule, with constant opposition by the Liberal party. The insurgence, led by Miguel Garcia Granados and Justo Rufino Barrios, finally won in 1871. After Granados' brief rule, Barrios took office from 1973 to 1885. He was succeeded by a series of Liberal regimes: M. Lisandro Brillas (1886 92), J.M. Reyna Barrios (1892 98), and M. Estrada Cabrera. Cabrera took power after Barrios was assassinated and stayed in power throu gh "re election" and ran a police state until he was forced to resign in
49 1920. The next notable ruler was military dictator Jorge Ubico (1931 44) (Jonas 1974: 134). Parallel to the Bourbon dynasty, the principal task of the Liberals was to further de tac hment from the church and push for "agrarian reforms" which would facilitate a new accumulation of wealth. The first move was to nationalize of all lands belonging to the Church an d monasteries, and appropriate of lands belonging to small holde rs and comm unal holdings in Indian vil lages (Jonas 1974: Piedra Santa 1971:40). These lands, in addition to vast uncultivated state holdings, were divided up and sold cheaply or granted to private interests (Jonas 1974: 134). By 1926, concentration of land tenure w as such that only 7.3 percent of the population owned property. The principal beneficiaries were previously medium growers, who became large scale landowners. More importantly, foreign interests were encouraged to take advantage of the new legislation. T he groups that suffered from this reform were of course the lower classes and the state itself. In attempt to remedy the widespread i mpoverishment, the state began parceling out most cultivable public lands to private interests. Legislation requiring tit les to private property legitimated the approp riation of municipal and Indian communal holdings, particul arly those deemed "uncultivated In reality, many of the uncultivated lands were lying fallow to increase their fertility. In many instances, Guatema lans avoided this practice in order to maintain ownership over their lands and avoid government acquisition. Only a few halfhearted attempts were made to restore land to some communities. One group of Indians came from Nahuala to voice their protests to the president in the 1890's:
50 "You have ordered us to leave our lands so that coffee can be grown... [These lands] have always been ours. We have paid for them three times [under Presidents Carrera, Cerna and Barrios]. We have the money now. How much do y ou want for our own lands this time ." (Jonas 1974: 135) Since the land had been appropriated in favor of specialized and commercialized export crops, principally coffee, the growing of domestic foods was second priority to the government. Domestic crop s were largely unsubsidized and the burden was left for small farmers to bare (Jonas 1974:135). This led to the contemporary problem of dependence on foreign imports for domestic products. The various campaigns for agricultural diversification only reinfo rced the takeover of large scale production by foreign interests, and did very little to alleviate market pressure. This climate set the scene for the introduction of the United Fruit Company into Guatemala. Lack of government priority of public infrastr ucture solidified Guatemala's dependency on agricultural exports and foreign powers for economic and social development. Susanne Jonas describes the un derlying ideology behind Guatemala's l iberal regimes as a firm positivist belief in material "progress" which although disguised rhe torically as "national progress meant in reality the advancement of the bourgeoisie, a more active role for the state in protecting and subsidizing but never regulating or restricting private enterprise, and providing an open door to foreign interests (1974: 140). This push to accumulate land and labor for agricultural production created land inequity throughout Guatemala. Coffee produced much of the inequity in regards to land and labor, but the United Fruit Company (UFCo) be came
51 the real colossus of Guatemala's history and completely overturned land distribution dynamics in Guatemala. Environ mentally speaking, the Liberal P eriod brought an end to any chance of agricultural sustainability. Nitrogen fixing, industrial fertiliz ers, and la rger scale mono crop production exasperated ecological degradation. In the coming thirty years, the discovery of a synthetic means to produce nitrogen in soil, the introduction of industrial fertilizer, and the complete domination of mono crop l andscapes penetrated every aspect of Guatemalan life.
52 CHAPTER IV : THE UNITED FRUIT COMPANY EL PULPO Liberals came to power in the nineteenth century, instituting export oriented economies. The rise of the United States as a global economic hegemo ny also meant dominance in the export industry in Latin America. With the concentration of land, production, and wealth within a few families and international firms within Guatemala, those held in the tightening grip of imperialism were left with very li ttle means or agency with which to free themselves (Liverman and Vilas 2006: 2). In line with liberal ideology, Guatemala was set on the path of export lead growth and the country's economic, social and ecological resources were deployed to meet global ma rket demands at the price of international dependency and the exploitation of Guatemala's environment and people. As a result, all funds were funneled away from national development projects and social programs, such as public infrastructure and financial support for small scale farmers. The underdevelopment that began in the Colonial Period was only reinforced by Liberal regimes consisting of corrupt and tyrannical governments unable to fund social programs and infrastructure projects. These circumstance s left the door open to a private sector willing to capitalize on the government's incompetence. Throughout Guatemala's history, government leaders have regularly turned to companies in order to save their failing infrastructure projects. As noted above, in 1834, the first concession of many was made to the Eastern Coast of Central America Commercial and Agriculture Company, to whom Mariano Galvez conceded fifteen
53 million acres: over half of Guatemala. According to many scholars, this became almost a model for Guatemalan "development," specifically in the case of United Fruit Company and the Central American Railway Company (Jonas 1974: 124). From many perspectives, the United Fruit Company and large scale banana production presented a different set of is sues than previously experienced in the history of Guatemalan agriculture, land, and private industry. Although the company became the pulpo (octopus) of Central America, United Fruit's control over Guatemalan people and land was a culmination of many even ts. I use the United Fruit Company's relationship to Guatemala as an example of an incompetent government utilizing private industry to fill in gaps in infrastructure and social development. In many cases, this example shows how government dependence on private industry can encourage the pursuit of private interests rather than those of the general public. Evolution of El Pulpo The rise of the banana and United Fruit Company began with a burgeoning railroad industry in Costa Rica. Railroads were top pr iority infrastructure projects at the turn of the century, as the most efficient and advanced technology for trade routes and general public transport. Minor Copper Keith, a Brooklyn born businessman, was looking for industry to cash in on in 1871. He mov ed to Costa Rica to work on a railroad project that his uncle Henry Meiggs was constructing for the national government. Minor Keith was given the job of maintaining the workforce (Chapman 2007: 29). His duties included hiring, providing necessities for workers, and minding the company store. In order to feed his workers at a minimum cost and make a small
54 profit, he planted several banana cuttings along the railroad in Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama (Bucheli and Read 2001). Soon after beginning his jou rney, severe weather and tropical diseases took a toll on Keith's workers and the construction of the railway fell apart. Nearly 5,000 men died in the process, including Keith's uncle. From that point forward, Keith took complete control of the project. After facing incredible difficulties, Keith finally finished the railroad from San Jose to Puerto Limon. However, the low number of passengers using the train made it unprofitable (Chapman 2007). Keith decided to use the transport system to export banana s from the plantations he had cultivated in the early 1870s. The first shipment proved to be a great success and by 1897, Keith was able to purchase half the shares of the Snyder Banana Company in Panama. Meanwhile in 1870, sailor and businessman Captai n Lorenzo Dow Baker bought 160 bunches of bananas in Jamaica for a shilling per bunch and sold them in Jersey City for two dollars each. After the success he encountered with the tropical fruit, he took the idea to Andrew Preston, a Boston entrepreneur, a nd they joined efforts to develop a banana market in Boston (Bucheli and Read 2001: 1). By 1885, after an extensive and successful media campaign designed to entice Americans to consume bananas and increase demand for the fruit, Baker and Preston came tog ether to establish the Boston Fruit Company. Keith's business venture went bankrupt and he lost $1.5 million in 1899. In search of a solution to his woes, he traveled to Boston and arranged a meeting with Andrew Preston to propose a merger of his compa ny and the Boston Fruit Company. Prior to the negotiation, Preston, Baker, and Keith collectively controlled 75% of the
55 banana market in the U.S. (2001: 2). They established the United Fruit Company (UFCo) on March 30, 1899, and within just a year, the U FCo acquired seven independent companies that had been operating in Honduras, and began its dominance over the agricultural industry in Central America. Infrastructure Though the UFCo did not officially get involved in Guatemalan affairs until 1901, the company built its empire on foundations laid during the first part of the Liberal reform, when Generals Justo Rufino Barrios (1873 1885), Manuel Lisandro Barillas (1885 1891), and Jos Mara Reina Barrios (1892 1897) pursued a modernization program that s erved the solitary interests of the coffee planters. The Liberals believed that the expansion of the coffee industry would provide them the capital they needed to create a modern diversified economy. To this ambitious end, they seized properties, and for cibly drafted labor to work on plantations or private and public projects (Dosal 1993). At the turn of the century, increased coffee production in Brazil caused the value of coffee in Guatemala to plummet (Chapman 2007: 54). Guatemala's infrastructure an d entire economy was dependent on coffee exports and the country experienced a consequent crisis of spiraling debt and rampant inflation. After the assassination of President Jos Mara Reina Barrios in 1898, the Guatemalan Cabinet was meeting to decide on a successor when General Manuel Estrada Cabrera stormed in with a pistol drawn. Cabrera saved them the burden of decision making and became the next dictator (2007: 54). Throughout his twenty two year regime which is notably covered in Nobel prize winn ing author Miguel Angel
56 Asturia's novel, El Seor Presidente he was depicted as the most cruel, sinister and paranoid tyrant ever to rule Guatemala (Stanley 2000: 27). The Guatemalan government signed three major contracts with UFCo and Minor Keith that h ad especially large influence in the country's land use dynamics and economic development (28). The first contract was minimal, but enabled the company to get their tentacles in the door. In 1901, Cabrera signed a contract with UFCo to manage the Guatemal an postal service between Puerto Barrios and New Orleans. The contract obligated the company to carry mail between the ports in exchange for $30,000 a year. More importantly, UFCo was permitted to purchase bananas from independent growers, which encourag ed and increased banana cultivation in Guatemala. Many view this exchange as the beginning of UFCo's reign in Guatemala. Manuel Galich, who served as first Minister of Foreign Relations during the presidency of Jacobo Arbenz (1951 54), claims that in exch ange for $30,000 a year, the UFCo gained "economic conquest of an extensive and rich area, and the ad hoc trampoline to achieve total control of our economy with all the [corresponding] financial and political corollaries," (Stanley 2000: 28). Many simply remember the contract as a "sheepskin covering the wolf (2000: 28)." Ultimately, UFCo used the postal service contract as a means to consolidate itself on the Atlantic coast, and grow bananas in the Motagua valley, one of the most fertile regions in the country (28). This contract ultimately established the government's dependence on UFCo for public projects that required large initial capital investments, but also gave the company control over the export trade routes (coffee and banana) and individual
57 g rowers. Many Guatemalan scholars and political theorists contend that this contract was just a formality while Keith waited for the 1904 railroad contract to come through, which would award extensive grants of land for UFCo to establish banana plantations. D evelopment projects such as railroad construction required vast amounts of capital and technology, both of which the Guatemalan government was unwilling or unable to provide. As a result, the Liberals financed railroad construction using a combination of state, local, and foreign capital (Jonas 1974: 282). The railway was officially intended to bridge the nation's class and racial divide. At this point, due to preferences and perspectives on the environment, the powerful polities were mostly located in the North. Europeans preferred to settle within the familiar highlands climate rather than the negatively connotated tropical environments (tropical determinism). Also, agricultural practices and goods in the highlands were comparable to that of European environments. This created a politicized landscape, where the poor were concentrated in lower elevations, and the elite reigned in the comparative highlands. Theoretically, the railroad would provide a means for these groups to come together. Beginning on the Pacific coast in the west, the railway system reached Guatemala City, approximately halfway to the Atlantic coast. Unfortunately, as the railway approached the Atlantic in the east, the coffee money ran out sixty miles short of its goal and the Gua temalan government needed to find outside funding to finish the job (Chapman 2007; Jonas 1974; Stanley 2006). Estrada Cabrera caught wind of Keith's railway project in Costa Rica, and in 1904 he invited Keith to complete the railroad to the city. As in Costa Rica, Keith's terms of agreement were difficult to pass upon: rather than cash upfront, he asked only
58 for as much land as it would take to grow his bananas (Chapman 2007: 55). The concession also gave the company tax exemptions, land grants, and cont rol of all railroads along the Atlantic coast. The deal came with a final payment in which Keith would take the profits from running the Atlantic side of the railway for ten years following its completion. In theory, the railroad would come back under th e control of the Guatemalan government after the ten year agreement, but it was obvious that the government would not be able to dissolve their accumulated debt in this time. Historian Mario Monteforte Toledo Toledo maintains that Estrada Cabrera recogn ized the inequitably negative impacts the contract would have on the country, but granted the concession in order to obtain the U.S. government's recognition of his 1904 election (Stanley 2000: 96). Many mark this as a turning point in Guatemalan history when the private sector took over the role of government in infrastructure and development in the country. It also established the country's first large scale debt with UFCo, and would not easily be forgotten. These deals were characteristic of the relati onship between liberal governments and foreign companies in much of Central America, but especially Guatemala (2000: 56). Financial support for government projects in return for land or other resources led to problematic and dramatically one sided concessi ons. Unfortunately, Guatemala was broke and even after ten years it was not able to sufficiently recover to take over the Atlantic railroad. By default, this vital infrastructure would end up in the hands of Keith and United Fruit. Keith had three years t o complete the project, but heavy rains, flooding, and labor problems plagued the project. In order to compensate for this, President Estrada
59 Cabrera revived old laws to have workers forcibly drafted. Many came from the Indian Highlands, far from their n ormal elevated climate, and fell sick or died in the humid eastern lowlands. Keith even reached out for Jamaican labor, but still did not finish the project in time. When he asked for an extension, Estrada was furious, and tried to get other contractors, but Keith was the only businessman at the time who was equally invested in railways and agriculture (Chapman 2007: 172). Keith delegated matters to his appointed representative in Guatemala, Percival Farquhar, who knew what buttons to push in order to ge t the extension needed from the Guatemalan government. Thomas P. McCann, a former employee of the United Fruit Company believed that "at the time we entered Central America, Guatemala's government was [the region's weakest], most corrupt and most pliable. In short, the country offered an ideal investment climate (Stanley 2000: 27)." The failing infrastructure and debt solidified UFCo's grip on the Guatemalan government. Farquahar simply threatened that Keith and United Fruit would pull out of Guatemala if they did not get the extension. This is a loose example of regulatory chill which describes instances where countries fail to raise environmental or other regulatory standards for fear that investment will either leave or not enter the country. Whethe r firms actually respond to this failure to raise standards is not the core issue. Rather, the point is that the fear that firms will act can affect the stringency of regulations in both rich and poor countries (Miller 2007: 152). The fear of the company l eaving pushed the Guatemalan government to heed their demands. This is often an issue in countries complying with export led growth strategies, which
60 develop their economy in partnership with companies or powerful merchants in order to jumpstart the expo rt industry. Although, this path includes an eventual break from these industries, it is rarely accomplished within this development strategy. In 1904, United Fruit signed a ninety nine year concession contract and named its terms: Keith would take full c ontrol of the railway on the Atlantic side of the country this included all rolling stock, stations, and telegraph lines, plus the Atlantic port of Puerto Barrios. This was all done at national expense, while UFCo gained massive new banana lands, and was exempted from all taxes. Before long, the company would seize control of the Pacific side (Chapman 2007: 158). At this point, any growers of coffee or other products in the west of Guatemala, or of bananas in the east near the Atlantic coast would have to use Keith's railways at prices dictated by the United Fruit. The company had effectively assumed control of the means by which much of the country's economic, social and political life was conducted. Though UFCo was contracted to help manage the postal service and construct the railroads, these gestures left the Guatemalan government indebted to United Fruit, and solidified the company's presence in the country. This also marked the beginning of the UFCo's vertical monopoly on exports and trade in Guate mala. Environmental Context The narrative of how UFCo began accumulating land and monopolizing agriculture is inexplicable without considering critical ecological elements of the company's history. Three major factors the Industrial Revolution, the dis covery of
61 industrial fertilizer and chemical sprays, and plant disease changed the path of UFCo, as well as Guatemalan agriculture as a whole (Miller 2007: 130 180). The arrival of the twentieth century was a turning point in human relations to nature, an d Latin America participated to the full extent. A large source of this change was a shift in the nature of energy (power) (Miller 2007: 130). Energy prior to this point consisted largely of solar, fire (wood), and animal muscle. Over the course of the n ineteenth century, a variety of newly endowed technologies steam engines, railways, steamships raised production, improved shipping conditions, and expedited the entire trade process. Fluctuating and insecure market demands, as well as the characteristic ally harsh hurricanes throughout the region, placed Guatemala substantially behind Brazil in coffee production and exports. Without this shift, Guatemala would not have been able to continue its export led development strategy. With this new technology, farmers and plantation owners were able to plant crops on a much larger scale than before, and at a fraction of the cost. Cheaper and more efficient transportation enabled small scale farmers to sell their crops more easily. However, these transport syst ems were privately owned (for the most part by UFCo), and the cost of public transport was determined by profit mongering companies. Independent farmers had access to transport, but would often choose to trade with UFCo merchants and cut their profit in or der to avoid the inflated costs of transport. After the two contracts with Keith, UFCo had a complete vertical monopoly over trade routes. At this time, agriculture was the central economic activity of every nation, and nations economic success was conti ngent on the soils fertility (Miller 2007: 135). It
62 was vital, as well as a constant struggle, to find ways to deter soil degradation and maximize crop yield. Throughout history, several different fertilizers and other methods have been utilized to suppl ement agricultural soils. Some examples include companion planting the mixing of soil and manure (composting), fallowing, and crop rotation all of which tend to be relatively weak and labor intensive. Guano the feces and urine of seabirds, was one of th e first manures that "broke agriculture's fertility barrier" (2007: 154). The bird droppings experienced an export boom from 1840 until 1870, until the birds went extinct due to exploitation of their environment (Miller 2007: 149). The depletion of nitrat e resources threatened the subsequent gains in agriculture, and so the search went on for other external sources of soil fertility. In 1908, the German chemist Fritz Haber discovered a synthetic means to produce nitrogen, called the Haber Bosch process. This process was enormously energy intensive, requiring extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressures, but by the 1920's it outstripped all other sources of agricultural nitrogen (2007: 155). Though industrial fertilizer broke "natural" boundaries of s oil and agricultural output, and freed many from the idea of crop rotation and fallowing, the accessibility of this product was not universal. Similarly to fossil fuel technology, small scale farmers could not afford modern fertilizers, but were still com peting against wealthy plantations that could. Unfortunately, fertilizer use came hand in hand with the use of pesticide and chemical sprays. Without having to depend on crop rotation to maintain soil fertility, large scale plantations could benefit from cultivating a singular crop (also termed monoculture planting). Monoculture crops are much more susceptible to insects and pest invasion, as well as plant disease. With a singular species, an entire
63 plantation could be wiped out with just one of these e cological obstacles. As bacteria and other organisms grow resistance to agrochemical sprays, stronger and larger quantities of agrochemicals are needed. One of the most influential ecological factors in United Fruit and Guatemala's history is plant disea se. The Panama disease ( Fusarium oxysporum) hit Latin America in 1901, and shifted the way in which producers thought about agricultural production altogether. This disease attacked the banana's roots and caused it to wilt, usually between five and ten ye ars after planting. It spread easily and quickly. Prior to its recognition, company managers blamed the plants condition on cultivation practices of their Jamaican workers and began purchasing land to grow standardized bananas on their own plantations rat her than contracting from individual farmers. In 1915, the fungus was finally identified and despite significant investment in finding a means to defeat or manage it, the spread of the Panama disease was inevitable. It was immune to all chemical sprays, a nd methods of separation and extinction only delayed the departure (2007: 130). United Fruit, which was one of the largest producers of bananas at the time, decided its most viable strategy was to avoid the issue by running away from the disease. Once the fungus had taken hold on a plantation (between five and ten years after planting), United Fruit would pull out and move all its capital and many of its laborers to new, distant locations. The Panama disease was an important factor in the formation of the banana republics. For the first time, banana companies like United Fruit began to consider the "long term." Knowing that they could only get eight years out of a banana plantation on average, American fruit growers began to buy, lease, and
64 commandeer tro pical farmland throughout Central America on a phenomenal scale. Not only were companies forced to abandon fields hastily, they had to establish the new plantations at a significant and safe distance from other banana plantations (2007:134). The banana p roducers found that the best solution was to effectively control huge tracts of widely distributed land to which they could systematically flee from the fungus. By 1927, they had finally invaded the disease free forests of Guatemala. They cleared forests, planted rapidly, and struggled to get as many harvests as possible before the disease caught up. But every place they went, the fungus soon followed (Miller 2007: 128 34). The company also left the workers, the degraded lands, and the surrounding communit ies as they fled for "new" lands. By the 1920's the United Fruit Company alone came to control more than 12,000 square kilometers of potential banana lands across half a dozen nations, an area nearly as large as the state of Connecticut. The Panama di sease had many consequences for agriculture, specifically banana production. Without it, banana importers might have remained satisfied with purchasing bananas from independent farmers, as was the case with coffee and the beginning stages of banana produc tion. Standardization of banana production and the banana species exacerbated the issue of plant disease and made it even more difficult for small farmers to live up to the company's standards for exports. Until the 1920s, United Fruit owned and controll ed rail and shipping, but very little land. With the arrival of the Panama disease, obtaining extensively more land than the company could ever cultivate became a top priority mission. From this point forward, UFCo would go so far as to subvert governmen ts and prop up dictators to quench their thirst
65 for land for profit. In the words of environmental historian Shawn Miller, "Economic imperialism would have occurred without Panama disease, but the fungus helps explain why banana republics, such as Guatema la, suffered more from imperialism's fruits than did others" (2007:135). Throughout the 1920's, UFCo accumulated a significant amount of land in Guatemala to secure arable and disease free areas to settle, but prior to 1936 they only had one plantation within the country. The third and largest land concession took place in 1936 between General Jorge Ubico (1931 44) and United Fruit. Although something of an embarrassment to the United States for his admiration of the fascist dictatorships in Spain, U bico remained in office by giving new concessions to foreign investors and terrorizing his own country with a newly organized secret police. Previous administrations had attempted to pay off the debt from the initial railroad, but by 1936 the government s till owed $1,832, 937 to the railroad company (Stanley 2000: 38). Ubico had a string of broken contracts, specifically one for a railroad to El Salvador and needed to keep cordial with Keith and UFCo. So, in 1936, the dictator Jorge Ubico signed yet an other 99 year concession to the company in order to "cancel" the debt. The amount of land was reportedly equivalent to $400,000, but consisted of 70 % of Guatemala's most arable lands (Jonas 1974: 201; Stanley 2000: 38). There is significant debate regar ding the amount that UFCo received in this concession; many Guatemalan historians report that the railroad received more than $1 million in cash, plus $7,500 for each kilometer of the railroad to El Salvador. The cost of this contract to the Guatemalan pe ople was accounted to be almost $2 million dollars. Clearly, there were many leaders who were against this agreement. UFCo's
66 monopoly of the country's banana industry was largely resented by many leaders, and its relationship with the International Railw ays of Central America, which monopolized the transportation system, was viewed as "an alliance which [worked] to defraud Guatemalans" (Stanley 2000: 48). The vertical monopoly over trade within the country equated to economic control over trade. The 193 0's was the decade of success for the company and it brought in record profits. Contracting with UFCo was the only option for many small farmers unable to compete with trade and export costs, which were remarkably discounted for those contracted with Unite d Fruit. Though the land under production was minimal comparable to other crops, UFCo owned a significant amount of land in order to deter competition and secure profits. The arable lands that were left for small farmers were sold at ridiculously inflated costs. The lack of government support for farmers such as providing credit options or subsidizing costs, also contributed to this issue. Many who could not afford to purchase or maintain their land turned to the company for work, either agricultural or pu blic and private projects. Though the company boasted to have provided a number of services and amenities to their workers, working conditions on UFCo plantations were reportedly unbearable (Chapman 2007; Cracken 1998; Hernandez and Witter 1996). Bananas As can be seen from the review of UFCo's evolution of power in Guatemala, there are many problematic aspects of the of the banana industry that set it apart from larger scale exports throughout Guatemala and Latin America. There are many
67 perspectives fro m which to view the relationship between banana production and the environment, but I chose to look at this issue through an environmental justice lense. More so than any other crop in Guatemala and Latin America, banana production creates a perfect clima te for cultivating circumstances of environmental injustice. Many scholars in this field agree that bananas are one of the most labor intensive export commodities produced in Guatemala. Aspects of banana cultivation such as the 12 14 month cultivation per iod and the extreme and relentless conditions of harvest and production tend to promote social and environmental inequities (Chapman 2007; Cracken 1998; Hernandez and Witter 1996). The nature of the plant itself, its unique conception from corporations, th e climatic conditions in which bananas are grown, and the type of labor involved in harvesting the plant, distinguishes the banana industry from many cash crops throughout Guatemala's history. The banana is an ecologically demanding species that requires abundant humidity, high temperatures, and soil with diverse nutrients (Chapman 2007; Astorga 1996). Historically, mono crop plantations have been placed in areas of decimated primary rainforests or rich volcanic soils, which are ideally suited for high pr oduction banana plantations (Hernandez and Witter 1996: 171). Bananas produced for the international markets can only be commercially produced on the best soils (Hernandez and Witter 1996:172). This is why Guatemala seemed especially well suited for banan a production. As mentioned in the Introduction, Guatemala's low tropical areas leading towards the coast carry volcanic sediment from the highlands. Volcanic soil depletes very quickly, and the tropical soils have a dependency on the biomass from the ove rhanging forest (Astorga 1996: 4).
68 Commercial banana plantations are generally located at altitudes below 200 meters, with annual rainfalls below 4000 mm on generally flat land (Hernandez and Witter 1996: 172). Though they need a substantial amount of w ater, the plants cannot grow in still water and therefore require an intense drainage system to funnel excess water from the site (Hernandez and Witter 1996: 172). In some cases, this requires large alteration of landscapes to maintain proper drainage. Ec ologically, these systems cause severe water and lateral erosion and involve having the soil permanently exposed without any type of shielding vegetation. This is also complicated by its location on coastal plains, which have an increased vulnerability to hurricanes and flooding. Banana producers also require large areas of land, and subsequent expansion. Bananas require more space between plants than coffee, which did well in crowded conditions. Considering these factors, bananas grown on a large scale re quired significant initial capital and investment, which enabled multinational corporations to dominate the industry (Astorga 1996: 4). The banana industry is the first agricultural endeavor to be completely birthed from multinationals, which changed stan dardized production and created circumstances of serious human and ecological injustice. As can be seen, the banana industry is substantially less sustainable that most large scale agricultural crops on the global market (Hernandez and Witter 1996). For o ne, large quantities of agrochemicals and industrial fertilizers are needed to meet production demands. Also, banana farmers live and work for relentless profit oriented multinationals (Kern 2007). Currently, some seven % of the bananas which are traded globally are produced by thirty to forty thousand workers in near slave like
69 conditions (Kern 2007: 2). Many workers never received the national minimum wage, and work 12 14 hour days. The companies contract employees to work for 59 days while the trial p eriods are 60 days, or contract out to avoid paying U.S. minimum wage. The constant turn over not only saved the UFCo money, but also helped avoid the gathering of unions or rebellions. There was poor or no access to labor codes such as healthcare, holida ys, and overtime. Private security guards often guarded the properties and created a militaristic environment. There have even been documented cases of companies giving workers drugs in order to keep them working (Kern 2007: 3). Agrochemical use on plan tations is responsible for some of the farthest reaching forms of environmental degradation. There are many factors contributing to large scale agrochemical use in the banana industry. First, unlike other large scale crops, there is very little genetic di versity in Latin America's banana production. The United Fruit Company set the standard for what type of banana was circulating on the international market, and there was little to no fluctuation between plantations (Miller 2007: 122). Due to the nature o f the banana itself, singular species plantations are problematic in terms of export dependability. In order to begin a banana plant, cuttings are taken from the underground stems of mature plants and transplanted. Because the stalks are not grown from se eds, they are genetically identical (Chapman 2007: 14). Consequently, banana crops are specifically vulnerable to diseases, such as the Panama disease (1903) and sigatoka (1934) (Miller 2007: 132). Constant susceptibility to disease necessitated the use of industrial fertilizer and agrochemicals that are both damaging to the workers and the ecologies in which bananas are grown.
70 Second, harvesting a crop removes nutrients from the system (Astorga 1996: 4; Hernandez and Witter 1996: 174; Miller 2007). High level production systems like bananas extract large quantities of nutrients and water. Consequently, soil nutrients cannot be replaced by mineralization of the parent soil or natural fertilization through decomposition at the same rate as they are removed by harvest (Astorga 1996: 4). To maintain commercial production rates, it is necessary to add significant amounts of fertilizer to the soil throughout its entire growth cycle. Third, monoculture production systems increase the food source for other organ isms such as insects, bacteria and fungi. With such a bountiful and readily available food supply, organisms multiply and compete with humans for the harvest, and further agrochemicals are needed. As bacteria and other organisms grow resistant to agroche micals needed to further protect the food crops, stronger and larger quantities of agrochemicals are needed. In many cases, the chemicals were severely restricted or banned in developed countries owing to their acute high toxicity (6). Moreover, even if a government approved of individual types of chemicals, mixtures of chemicals, or "cocktails" were employed to demolish pests and disease (Hernandez and Witter 1998: 176). Though this had an obvious effect on its physical environment, the impact on the ba nana workers was devastating. Unlike the organisms for which they are intended, humans do not readily develop resistances to these chemicals which have severe adverse side effects such as cancer, sterility, and genetic malformations (Hernandez and Witter 1996; Astorga 1996). Bananas require attention throughout the twelve to fourteen month process of harvesting and production, which involves heavy contact with the plants themselves
71 (Chapman 2007: 15). Dangerous situations, and inadequate practices during field work, such as pesticide being splashed on workers' skin, droplets vaporizing directly into workers' faces and bodies, contaminated water or pesticide solution seeping into boots, and incidents of workers eating with contaminated hands have all been common and likely circumstances for toxic poisoning (Astorga 1996: 6). Banana workers are considered to be the population at the greatest risk of meeting these circumstances and have the highest concentration of medical treatment for pesticide poisoning ( 6). The rate of occupational poisoning amongst banana workers reporting symptoms of pesticide poisoning was 6.4% (7). In 1990, the World Health Organization estimated that some 3 % of agricultural workers in developing countries are poisoned annually (Ast orga 196: WHO/ UNEP). Though the impacts of pesticides are severe, the negligent multinationals added insult to injury by not compensating or caring for the workers inflicted with these burdens. In many regards, the banana plant was a different beast tha n coffee. Rather than a barren frontier, it left a riddled frontier, a patchwork of ruin and destruction surrounded by delicate natural buffers (Miller 2007:132). It was noted that "its transformation of the landscape left not even a shadow of a ghost town but only deforested tracts littered with sticky banana stumps from which poor farmers tried to eke out a bare subsistence" (2007: 132). When the company fled to other areas to start over in a new area, the land was left so degraded and diseased, it coul d not be used for agricultural purposes for a considerable amount of time depending on the investment in future inputs (2007: 231). Though United Fruit had severe effects on the ecology and the plantation workers, the company would soon show just how far it would go to fulfill their greed.
72 In the 1930's, United Fruit worked its way into the heart of US life, into the family and the affairs of the state and when it mattered most, in the State Department (Chapman 2007: 113). During World War II, UFCo us ed some of its plantations to grow strategic materials for the U.S. government, like rubber, quinine and abaca for rope. A company official was put on the board that supervised that program. Though they went into the war as enemies of the state, they cam e out with the title of "war heroes" (2007:15). In the late 1940's, Costa Rica had shown signs of making a break from banana republicanism (Chapman 2007: 123). John Foster Dulles, a you lawyer who had been doing undercover work in the country, and report ed that Coasta Rica "had gone from bad to worse and become steadily more democratic" (2007:122). Company anxiety rose even more as they watched as Guatemala moved towards more radical leadership. In 1951 Guatemala elected Colonel Jacobo Arbenz, a science and history teacher at the military academy. Arbenz came from Quetzaltenango in the Northern Highlands, and resolved to improve the miserable living and working conditions he had watched Guatemala's indigenous population endure. Arbenz soon announced h is plan to carry out a massive land reform that would break up a number of large land holdings, including his own, and distribute small areas to landless farmers. At the time, just 2.2 % of the population owned over 70 % of the country's land, most of whi ch belonged to United Fruit. The remaining 10% of the country's farmable land was left the remaining 90 % of the population, a majority of which were Indians (Jonas 1974: 248). The reform benefit ed an estimated 100,000 families, but called for United Frui t to give up a substantial amount of its land, most of
73 which had been unused and was part of its stock of territory it kept in reserve (Chapman 2007: 125). Adding fuel to the fire, Arbenz publicized that the purpose of breaking up large unproductive landh oldings was to "pull the Guatemalan economy out of feudalism' and to turn it into a modern capitalist' state" (2007: 125). United Fruit angrily dismissed this claim, and prepared for battle. The United States government was not at first adverse to Arb enz as a leader, and in fact was comparatively fond of the intellectual. Though the company attempted to convince the U.S. of Guatemala's communist ties, they had to take care of the issue for themselves. United Fruit planned to send guns down to Central America on their ships in boxes marked "Agricultural Equipment" (Chapman 2007:2 126). In Nicaragua, the powerful Somoza family would receive the weaponry and lead an assault on Guatemala. President Truman and the State Department blocked the exercise comp letely. John Foster Dulles, a senator from New York, was placed in change of the State Department, and with it responsibility over foreign affairs. He and his brother Allen, who was head of the CIA, were old confidants and advocates of United Fruit. Ove r the next few years, the company gathered together a tight network of powerful people very influential to their cause; they soon would be ready to execute their plans to over throw Guatemala's recently established democracy. The United States government and United Fruit executed "Operation Success" and overthrew the Guatemalan government. To United Fruit, their reasoning for a coup was clear. By losing some of their land the company had been "subjected to an act of virtual expropriation'and theft"
74 (C hapman 2007: 133). The government had attempted to compensate in the form of bonds (not cash) which was reportedly unacceptable. Interestingly enough, the government had used the land's "book value" the information provided by the United Fruit for tax purposes. But the company had under declared the value of the land for years in order to save on taxes, and now suffered the consequences. Under the guise of combating communism, the U.S. government ordered a CIA orchestrated coup to oust Arbenz in 1954 The Arbenz government was replaced by decades of military dictatorship during which hundreds of thousands of people died as death squads killed or "disappeared" anyone regarded as politically dangerous. Today, Guatemala has the largest rural population in Central America over 60% of its inhabitants depend on agriculture to survive. Yet available land is shrinking as rural families grow and expansive tracts devoted to export agriculture are concentrated into fewer hands. The United States and internation al institutions such as the World Bank have pressured Guatemala to employ an agricultural export model that allows multinational food corporations and wealthy finca owners to reap the benefits of the country's rich agricultural environment and cheap labor source, while the majo rity of the population survives on tiny subsistence oriented plots. Though these issues should be getting attention from political and economic spheres, many of these issues are being looked at either inadvertently or directly by foreign environmental conservation organizations.
75 CHAPTER V: CONCLUSION Breaking Away from Convention in Contemporary Conservation This thesis reviews the ecological narrative underlying Guatemala's political and socio economic history. These types of retroactive analyses can illuminate alternative motives behind political and economic decisions, and help contextualize the land dispossession and inequity in Guatemala, which characterized much of the country's history and is the source of many contempor ary ecological and social justice issues. Though this information is interesting in an academic context, it is most valuable when applied to contemporary problems to find a more holistic "solution". Since this is an environmental thesis, I chose to concl ude with a short discussion of contemporary conservation efforts in Guatemala, and how utilizing an analytical framework which includes historical and interdisciplinary perspectives (Chapter 2) is imperative for addressing foreign and domestic conservation goals. Without acknowledging these tangential issues, conservation groups will only further contribute to the issues of land displacement and inequity in Guatemala. According to Robert Carmack et al., land dispossession began on a major scale "at the moment of the European invasion and has continued until present" (2007: 354). Today, though it is exemplary of the land distribution throughout history, roughly 2% of the population in Guatemala owns 70% of all productive farmland (Viscidi 2004). In the Colonial Period, restructuring campaigns and resettlement
76 programs stripped Guatemalans of power and mobility. After Independence, Liberal dictatorships, increasing agricultural dependency, the increased tactics used to support agriculture, and the multin ationals that came with agro industry were the largest contributors to landlessness in Guatemala today. Consequently, conservation efforts are failing to understand the complex historical process as they attempt to address environmental issues in Guatemal a. Currently, the main environmental issues facing Guatemala are deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution (Guatemala 2012). Though these issues have just recently received attention by the international and environmental community, these issues a re multilayered, intertwined and have been developing for centuries (Carr 2008). At the front of the agenda of foreign conservationists is the severe deforestation in Guatemala's largest and northernmost region, the Petn (Shriar 2011: 135). In this case deforestation is primarily carried out by colonists from the highlands. Caribbean lowlands and Pacific coastal regions are home to the richest soils of the country, but are mostly owned by private entities. As a result, the growing dispossessed populati ons of these areas have no recourse but to colonize the forests of the Petn. Thus, the majority of contemporary environmental concern, deforestation in the northern Guatemala, has its roots in the practices of land dispossession and monopolization of the past. Forest elimination has led to soil erosion, increased sedimentation of waterways, and soil impoverishment. Tropical deforestation has global consequences as well: it tends to exacerbate climate change at local and global scales, where it has been estimated that 25 30% of climate warming is caused by the elimination of forests
77 in the tropics (Carr 2008: 232; Adger and Brown 1994). Latin American forests have been destroyed quickly despite a relatively small rural population inhabiting the region, a nd consequently in the last several decades, there has been a significant increase in the number of conservation areas in Guatemala. A study by David Carr regarding farm households and land use in a core conservation zone of the Maya Biosphere Reserve 1 (F igure 2), reported that Latin Americans deforested five times more forest per rural person than Africans and 40 times more than Asians (Carr 2008: Bilsborrow and Carr 2001). In Guatemala, there has been a 50 % loss in rainforest since 1890 (Guatemala 2012 ). He attributes this to the great forest clearing per household accomplished by a small proportion of migrants who colonize remote frontiers (2012: 232). Many conservation areas, such as the Maya Biosphere Reserve, have a perimeter surrounding the prote cted areas called "frontiers" or "buffer zones" (Shriar 2011: 134). The recent socioeconomic integration of the Petn, Guatemala's main frontier region, has pushed many researchers and conservationists to consider the implications of the migrant populatio n living in the frontier conservation area from the standpoint of sustainable land use and forest conservation. In these regions the primary cause of forest loss within increasingly biodiversity rich "protected areas" is agricultural expansion (2011: 136), "but it is generally agreed that rural rural migrant farmers are the primary direct agents (Carr 2008: 233)." Though it is helpful to The Maya Bio sphere Reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera Maya) is a nature reserve in Guatemala managed by Guatemala's National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP). The Maya Biosphere Reserve covers a total area of 21,602 km!, which is considerably larger than Yellowstone Na tional Park.
78 identify the stakeholders and contributors when attempting to address issues of ecological degradation, it is unreasonab le to assume that poor migrant farmers are the root causes of this situation. While many studies have directly correlated Guatemala's environmental predicament to its highly intensive agricultural history and more specifically the small proportion of migr ants who colonize remote frontiers (232), there are more factors to be considered (Barbier 1997; Hernandez and Witter 1996, Jonas 1974; Liverman 2006). Due to the complexity of the issue, and the westernized ideals embedded in foreign conservation goals, there has been a substantial struggle in determining the best way for foreign conservationists to help deter further forest degradation. Conventional conservation attempts have been largely unsuccessful. These include preservation based projects, where d esirable or biodiversity rich areas are set aside and "protected" from further degradation; encouraging and providing information on sustainable farming techniques and technology (green fertilizer), and generally encouraging "ecological awareness" (from th e perspective of westernized conservation ideals). These misguided prescriptions are inadequate due to a lack of understanding as to how environmental problems arise (Chapter 2) (Carr 2008; Shriar 2011). Many preservation based conservation efforts, incl uding the campaigns within the Maya Biosphere Reserve, have received criticism for tackling these surface issues (concentrating on the small frontier farmers), while often failing to address or recognize institutional and social aspects of environmental pr oblems. One of the most problematic and foundational misnomers in this perspective is that poor people and poverty itself is viewed as one of the primary causes of
79 environmental destruction; "the poor may be the victims, but so too are they the agents, the perpetrators" (Broad 1994: 811; Liverman and Vilas 2006). This is perspective is flawed in that it draws attention to superficial symptoms rather than the overarching and structural sources of these complex issues. This ideology is supported by an eco nomic model/hypothesis that is still prominent within mainstream academia, especially economic, political science, and environmental theory. The Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) (Figure 3) hypothesis posits an inverted U shaped relationship between econom ic development and environmental damages. According to this logic, environmental damage per capita increases in the early stages of economic development, reaches a maximum, and then diminishes as a nation attains higher levels of income. If the evidence su pported this hypothesis, then it would imply that economic development would eventually promote a cleaner environment (Dasgupta et al. 2002). Not only does this relationship only exist in a theoretical context, the model only pertains to certain types of pollution. The curve focuses on case studies focused on certain types of air quality pollution, specifically sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, lead, DDT, chlorofluorocarbons, sewage, and other chemicals previously released directly into the air or water (Bro ad 1994). Critics also argue that the highly unequal distribution of income in developing countries meant that even when national economic indicators improve poverty, inequality will continue to drive environmentally harmful practices such as deforestatio n. Furthermore, the decrease in the production of a certain type of pollutant in more developed countries does not mean that consumption of that pollutant has ceased production may have simply moved to a poorer country. Shifting the "ecological shadow" of destructive practices
80 is essential in neoliberal prescriptions for development, but with nowhere to transfer their dirty industry, developing countries are left in a perpetual state of industrialization. Shifting dirty industry or industrial responsibi lity to marginalized areas also leaves very little room for global environmental progress. These types of paradoxes within environmental policy and international dialogue shape the way that institutions and groups perceive and are able to address these is sues. In his article The Poor and the Environment: Friends or Foes? Robin Broad (1994) argues against the deterministic view of the relationship between poverty and the environment, revolving around the negative impact of the poor on the environment. Thi s ultimately condemns the practices of individuals rather than addressing the structural and institutional issues contributing to poverty. Broad offers a refutation of the traditional paradigm of poor people as environmental destroyers and provides exampl es of poor people as environmental protectors, countering the Kuznets Curve's assumption that poverty and underdevelopment equate to higher levels of environmental degradation. He asserts that impoverished farmers must manage resources with great care, opt imize the use of every microscopic scrap of resources in order protect what they must depend on. In fact, according to Broad, there are three characteristics that make the poor the most viable environmental activists. First, the poor depend on natural r esources for survival and are likely to be the first group to feel the direct effects of environmental degradation. Second, poor tend to have a greater sense of permanence, with little option for mobility, and tend to be connected emotionally or culturall y to the land, which they cultivate. Third, in the setting of civil society, the poor are most
81 likely to organize their social capital in order to rectify their ecological circumstances (Broad 1194; Liverman and Vilas 2006). Given this problematic assumpti on within contemporary environmental theory, it is not a surprise that traditional approaches to conservation that concentrate on condemning the poor rather than addressing broader structural issues, are missing the mark. In many circumstances, foreign en vironmental organizations will overlook or disregard the economic and policy factors that contribute on various scales to deforestation in the Petn lowlands of Guatemala. For instance, these areas are predominantly characterized by comparatively low (but increasing) population densities; limited, poor quality infrastructure for communication and transportation; weak agricultural market conditions; a low level of agricultural services, such as research, extension and credit; insecure land tenure; and limite d organization among communication and farmers (Shriar 2011: 134). For Guatemala, rapid population growth and agricultural intensification inscribed visible impacts on its biologically diverse landscape (Carr 2012:66). Large investment in agriculture an d the domination and control of private sector over economic and public policy has lead to widespread dispossession and severely inequitable land distribution. Without fertile land on which to make a living, many left for these frontier areas, which for th e most part were not desirable locations to cultivate crops for the export market. In most cases, due to high proportion of recent migrants to these regions from urban and degraded rural areas, farmers are less familiar with agro ecological conditions and requirements for sustainable land use. Policies to date have focused on intensification techniques, perennial cultivation, and
82 forest harvesting; while labor availability, land tenure, lack of off farm employment, and poor public education are acute proble ms in marginalized frontiers. The various studies assessing the effectiveness or lack there of within the conservation effort in Guatemala view foreign conservation programs as overly concerned with the ecological conditions, and are less attentive to the needs of people. Land degradation is not an issue of science or plant breeding it is at its core economic. In Guatemala, the majority of rural poor are living in marginal agricultural areas where land productivity and therefore household income are stagn ant and declining. With poor or no access to capital for agricultural endeavors or alternative economic opportunities, farmers often extract short term rents through resource conversion and degradation. The result is increased ecological degradation and the expansion of agricultural activity in the frontier forest and other marginalized lands, creating self perpetuating cycles of degradation. Theoretically, as countries develop economically and the productivity of their existing agricultural lands improv es, there is less pressure for deforestation. Conservation campaigns that encourage subsistence farming and the use of green fertilizers are especially problematic. Under conditions of low population density, farmers have little incentive to intensify pr oduction per unit area and returns to labor or cash tend to be a much more important influence on their strategies. With weak market conditions and infrastructure, there is little incentive to produce higher value crops that could reduce the area of cultiv ation needed to earn sufficient income. As illustrated in this thesis, farmers commonly feel compelled to clear large areas of land (forest or otherwise) to demonstrate their occupation of a parcel countries with a
83 history of insecure tenure and land dispo ssession. Without legal tenure, they also may find it impossible to obtain credit and thus invest in improving and stabilizing their production systems. Furthermore, with an absence of agricultural organizations to support local farmers and push for gover nment programs for credit and other rights, farmers are left with very little to combat the compounding circumstances perpetuating poverty and underdevelopment in the country. The situation in Petn raises some critical issues for conservationists. In the context of this argument, I encourage conservation organizations to use their social and political capital to campaign for structural change, which has been much more effective in reaching conservation goals, as well encouraging independent social, politi cal, economic national development. Valuing both the human and ecological aspects of these fragile circumstances empowers rather than condemns stakeholders to participate in change. It is of utmost importance that conservationists adopt both a historical and global perspective when investigating an ecological history. Just as social, political, and economic processes are unalienably embedded in their environmental contexts, so too are environments intrinsically affected by reverberations from the human s phere. Nowhere is this central insight of environmental history more apparent the socially and ecologically disastrous relationship between the United Fruit Company and misguided Liberal policy makers in the 19 th and early 20 th century.
85 Figure 1 Eco regions of Guatemala from weGuatemala.org
86 Figure 2 Maya Biosphere
87 Figure 3. Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC)
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