The plan that the United States is a ‘banana republic’ is nuts

Horrorstruck by the terrorist attack on our nation’s capital by Trump’s eager executioners, previous president George W. Bush, Wisconsin Republican congressman Mike Gallagher and Secretary of Condition Mike Pompeo demurred the thought that the United States resembled a Latin American “banana republic.”



a group of people riding skis on top of a building: People sit atop railings outside the windows of the U.S. Capitol building.


© Presented/Amy Harris
Persons sit atop railings exterior the home windows of the U.S. Capitol developing.

Their reactions exhibited a hubris in and of by itself. For them, only the brown folks of Latin America revolted in these kinds of absent.

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Alzheimer’s may possibly explain the a few forgetting the extremism of this previous May well and Oct in Michigan exactly where Trump loyalists stormed the state’s capital with assault rifles in the 1st instance and plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in the next. Nor did they remember other racists rebelling with tiki torches by way of the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, in the summertime of 2017 chanting, “Jews will not replace us.”

Then there is our nation’s granddaddy of rebellions: the American Civil War that started off in 1861 as secessionist forces attacked the U.S. base that was Fort Sumter. Why did southern Confederates secede? Since president Abraham Lincoln would not let the even more expansion of slavery. 

I will give non-pupils of historical past a move on not considering Shay’s Rebellion and the Whiskey Insurrection. The previous involved insurrectionists, quite a few armed innovative war veterans, attacking Massachusetts’ courts, to end the foreclosures of farms, and a federal arsenal in 1786. The latter entailed a federal excise tax on whiskey that prompted western Pennsylvania distillers to assault tax collectors in 1791.

In 1794, President George Washington led 13,000 federalized soldiers into Pennsylvania’s backcountry to quash the riot. Afterwards that year in an tackle to Congress, he characterized the whiskey insurrection as “fomented by mixtures of adult males who … have disseminated, from an ignorance or perversion of information, suspicions, jealousies, and accusations of the entire Governing administration.”

My place is that the “banana republic” appellation signifies the notion that the U.S. is further than socio-political upheaval. This is grounded in the portrayal of brown “other” nations as culturally, if not racially, vulnerable to political violence. Certainly, that is how media conditioned me in my youth.

As I came of age in the 1980s, I did not examine much but viewed a good deal of tv. As a latchkey child, I viewed reruns just after faculty. Living in Greater Los Angeles, I also pass the time with Channel 7’s KABC “Eyewitness News” that highlighted debates amongst Bruce Herschensohn and John Tunney.

Herschensohn was a conservative commentator who served in the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Tunney was a a person-phrase California U.S. Senator linked to the Kennedys who championed the liberal standpoint.

In masking U.S. overseas policy, the two often argued about the incessant wars and golpes in the Caribbean and Central The usa, significantly the revolutions of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

Back then these governments ended up commonly labeled “banana republics.” The origin of the epithet stemmed from the region’s financial dependency on the export of this fruit and other commodities this sort of as espresso and sugar as dictated by U.S. financiers and organizations this kind of as Chiquita (previously United Fruit) and Dole courting back again to the early 20th century.

The cognomen is also drenched with racist assumptions of American exceptionalism. As the Town Upon the Hill, the U.S. felt obligated to mentor such nations. Ostensibly, Latin Us citizens, as a race, ended up much too unstable and corrupt to govern themselves without the need of its tutelage.

This is in addition to their defense from European interference as declared in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. Tacitly, only the U.S. could.

As I watched Herschensohn and Tunney reprise a nightmare of demise squads, strongmen, assassins, “freedom fighters,” and insurgencies, I ignorantly bought into this epistemology and thought to myself, “Why can not these nations just get their act together like the United states of america?”

Then in school, I was assigned Walter Lefeber’s “Inevitable Revolutions: The United States in Central America (1983).” It specific a prolonged background of U.S. interventionism, both equally overt and covert, to instate vicious rulers in the course of the region by way of crafty routine adjust that entailed coups, military services advisors, naval and maritime invasion, and contrived elections.

If a nationalist federal government with ambitions of self-willpower emerged, the U.S. systematically attempted to destabilize it. Consider Cuba traditionally and Valenzuela in the current.

Even more examining revealed the Central Intelligence Agency’s sponsorship of the murderous coups of the democratically elected presidencies of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954 and Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973. Their criminal offense, the pursuit of their citizens getting larger regulate of their lands’ sources at some expense of U.S. conglomerates.

That’s why, the respective installation of the merciless army dictatorships of Carlos Castillo Armas and Augusto Pinochet. To paraphrase President Franklin Roosevelt’s alleged description of the U.S.-supported Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, the two had been scoundrels, but they were being our scoundrels.

Even though the ideological pretext for U.S. interventionism was to beat the unfold of communism in the Western Hemisphere, the product motive was to maintain industrial hegemony though smothering choice autochthonous financial designs that privileged the social demands of Latin People in excess of U.S. business interests.

In sum, the history of the U.S. is anything at all but just one of continuity. So, while we may not be bananas, background and the pro-Trump sedition reminds us that we have a reasonable share of nuts.



a man wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Frank P. Barajas


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Frank P. Barajas

Frank P. Barajas is the Professor and Chair of History at California Condition University Channel Islands.

This post originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Visitor column: The strategy that the United States is a ‘banana republic’ is nuts

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