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Writing 2—Martinsen

Pablo Neruda: “La United Fruit Co.” from Canto General (1950)

Cuando sonó la trompeta, estuvo When the trumpet sounded


todo preparado en la tierra, everything was prepared on earth,
y Jehova repartió el mundo and Jehovah gave the world
a Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda, to Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, y otras entidades: Ford Motors, and other corporations.
la Compañía Frutera Inc. The United Fruit Company
se reservó lo más jugoso, reserved for itself the most juicy
la costa central de mi tierra, piece, the central coast of my world,
la dulce cintura de América. the delicate waist of America.

Bautizó de nuevo sus tierras It rebaptized these countries


como "Repúblicas Bananas," Banana Republics,
y sobre los muertos dormidos, and over the sleeping dead,
sobre los héroes inquietos over the unquiet heroes
que conquistaron la grandeza, who won greatness,
la libertad y las banderas, liberty, and banners,
estableció la ópera bufa: it established an opera buffa:
enajenó los albedríos it abolished free will,
regaló coronas de César, gave out imperial crowns,
desenvainó la envidia, atrajo encouraged envy, attracted
la dictadora de las moscas, the dictatorship of flies:
moscas Trujillos, moscas Tachos, Trujillo flies, Tachos flies
moscas Carías, moscas Martínez, Carias flies, Martinez flies,
moscas Ubico, moscas húmedas Ubico flies, flies sticky with
de sangre humilde y mermelada, submissive blood and marmalade,
moscas borrachas que zumban drunken flies that buzz over
sobre las tumbas populares, the tombs of the people,
moscas de circo, sabias moscas circus flies, wise flies
entendidas en tiranía. expert at tyranny.

Entre las moscas sanguinarias With the bloodthirsty flies


la Frutera desembarca, came the Fruit Company,
arrasando el café y las frutas, amassed coffee and fruit
en sus barcos que deslizaron in ships which put to sea like
como bandejas el tesoro overloaded trays with the treasures
de nuestras tierras sumergidas. from our sunken lands.

Mientras tanto, por los abismos Meanwhile the Indians fall


azucarados de los puertos, into the sugared depths of the
caían indios sepultados harbors and are buried in the
en el vapor de la mañana: morning mists;
un cuerpo rueda, una cosa a corpse rolls, a thing without
sin nombre, un número caído, name, a discarded number,
un racimo de fruta muerta a bunch of rotten fruit
derramada en el pudridero. thrown on the garbage heap.
Writing 2—Martinsen

The United Fruit Company (1899–1970) was a major American corporation that traded tropical fruit
(primarily bananas and pineapples) grown in Third World plantations and sold in the United States and
Europe. Critics often accused the company of exploitative neocolonialism and described it as the
archetypal example of the influence of a multinational corporation on the internal politics of the so-called
"banana republics."

The United Fruit Company was known as la frutera ("the fruit company") or Mamita Yunay ("Mommy
United") in Central America, where it was most active. For much of the 20th century, it dominated the
exportation of bananas from Latin America and maintained a virtual monopoly on the banana trade in
certain regions. The company had a deep and long-lasting impact on the economic and political
development of several Latin American countries.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Fruit_Company

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