.

MundoAndino Home : Colombia Guide at Mundo Andino

Banana massacre


The Banana massacre, in Spanish, Matanza de las bananeras or Masacre de las bananeras was a massacre of workers for the United Fruit Company that occurred on December 6, 1928 in the town of Cienaga near Santa Marta, Colombia. An unknown number of workers died after the government decided to send the military forces to end a month-long strike organized by the workers' union in order to secure better working conditions.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez depicted a fictional version of the massacre in his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, as did Alvaro Cepeda Samudio in his La Casa Grande.

Strike

The workers of the banana plantations in Colombia went on strike in December 1928. They demanded written contracts, eight-hour days, six-day weeks and the elimination of food coupons. The strike turned into the largest labor movement ever witnessed in the country until then. Radical members of the Liberal Party, as well as members of the Socialist and Communist Parties, participated.

Massacre

An army regiment from Bogota was dispatched by the government to deal with the strikers, which it deemed to be subversive. Whether these troops were sent in at the behest of the United Fruit company did not clearly emerge.

The troops set up their machine guns on the roofs of the low buildings at the corners of the main square, closed off the access streets,

and after a five-minute warning opened fire into a dense Sunday crowd of workers and their wives and children who had gathered, after Sunday Mass, to wait for an anticipated address from the governor.

Number dead

General Cortes Vargas, who commanded the troops during the massacre, took responsibility for 47 casualties. In reality, the exact number of casualties has never been confirmed. Herrera Soto, co-author of a comprehensive and detailed study of the 1928 strike, has put together various estimates given by contemporaries and historians, ranging from 47 to 2,000.

Among the survivors was Luis Vicente Gamez, later a famous local figure, who survived by hiding under a bridge for three days. Every year after the massacre he delivered a memorial service over the radio.

Another version by Jose Gregorio Gerrero said that the number of dead was nine: eight civilians and one soldier. Guerrero added that Jorge Eliecer Gaitan had exaggerated the number of deaths.

Justifications

General Cortes Vargas, who issued the order to shoot, argued later that he had issued the order because he had information that U.S. boats were poised to land troops on Colombian coasts to defend American personnel and the interests of the United Fruit Company. Vargas issued the order so the US would not invade Colombia. This position was strongly criticized in the Senate, especially by Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, who argued that those same bullets should have been used to stop the foreign invader. [*]

Official U.S. telegrams

The Telegram from Bogota Embassy to the U.S. Secretary of State, dated December 5, 1928, stated:

The Telegram from Santa Marta Consulate to the U.S. Secretary of State, dated December 6, 1928, stated:

The Telegram from Bogota Embassy to the U.S. Secretary of State, dated December 7, 1928, stated:

The Telegram from the U.S. Department of State to Santa Marta Consulate, dated December 8, 1928, stated:

The telegram from Santa Marta Consulate to the U.S. Secretary of State, dated December 9, 1928, stated:

The Dispatch from Santa Marta Consulate to the U.S. Secretary of State, dated December 11, 1928, stated:

The Dispatch from Bogota Embassy to the U.S. Secretary of State, dated December 11, 1928, stated:

The Dispatch from US Bogota Embassy to the US Secretary of State, dated December 29, 1928, stated:

The Dispatch from US Bogota Embassy to the US Secretary of State, dated January 16, 1929, stated:

Consequences

Guerrilla movements in Colombia like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia argued that one of the consequences for the development of communism in Colombia was triggered by events like these and called it state terrorism. The Banana massacre is set to be one of the main events that preceded the Bogotazo, the subsequent era of violence known as La Violencia and the guerrillas that developed during the bipartisan National Front to created the ongoing Colombian armed conflict.

External links

The Santa Marta Massacre

Gabriel Garcia Marquez and His Approach to History in One Hundred Years of Solitude

Chiquita brands and their actions in Colombia

Didn't find what you were looking for.
Need more information for your travel research or homework?
Ask your questions at the forum about History of Colombia or help others to find answers.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Banana massacre


Disclaimer - Privacy Policy - 2009