In his book, The Lost City of the Monkey God, Douglas Preston writes that one of the biggest reasons for Honduras’ unstable development “was the country’s unhealthy relationship with the United States, whose shortsighted policies and business interests had kept [Honduras] politically unstable for more than a century….One might say that modern Honduran history began in 1873, when Jules Verne introduced Americans to the banana in his novel Around the World in 80 Days.” The creation of the United Fruit Company, which became the largest employer in Honduras in the 1880s, “was the beginning of a long and destructive relationship between American banana companies and the country of Honduras”.
That story continues today, albeit with different leaders and perhaps murkier complications.
The banana has remained an important part of the Honduran lifestyle, economy, and trade. So has the Honduran spirit of resistance. My reporting partner and I were able to see this first hand, as we reported on a banana worker’s strike that was in its 9th week. Our first day in the field we were present for a meeting with multiple different organizations, and we heard many workers speak out on the injustices they faced in the workplace, particularly when it came to their healthcare. I’ll save the details of this for the story we are working on, but it was a powerful display of strength, bravery, and spirit. Many of the people striking are dependent on the money from the banana fields to feed their families, but they remain in la lucha-the fight-because they know it’s the right thing to do. Many of those leading the strike are women, and it was particularly powerful to see them step forward, in a society that is not always welcoming of strong female figures. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to help to tell the story of the continued lucha in Honduras, to deepen my own knowledge, and to add to the conversation about American influence and what it means—for better and for worse.
Roxana, one of the leaders of the strike, listens to other workers at a strike meeting.
– Anna Clare Spelman