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Profile: United Fruit Company
United Fruit Company was a participant or observer in the following events:
The dictator Jorge Ubico is overthrown and Guatemala enjoys what is known as the “ten years of spring” with two popularly elected and reformist presidents. The second president during this era, President Jacobo Arbenz (1951-1954), permits free expression, legalizes unions, allows diverse political parties, and initiates basic socioeconomic reforms. One key program is a moderate land reform effort aimed at alleviating the suffering of the rural poor, by which only plantations of very high acreage are affected, and only in cases where a certain percentage of such acreage is in fact lying unused. In these extreme cases, the unused portions of the land are not expropriated, but simply purchased by the Guatemalan government at the same value declared on the owner’s tax forms.The property is then resold at low rates to peasant cooperatives. To set an example, President Arbenz starts with his own lands. [Gleijeses, 1992; Woodward, 1999; Schlesinger and Kinzer, 1999]
The land redistribution collides with the interests of the United Fruit Company (UFCO), for whom 85 percent of the 550,000 acres they own are uncultivated. The US government demands extra compensation for the United Fruit Company over what has already been given. [Gleijeses, 1992; Woodward, 1999; Schlesinger and Kinzer, 1999]
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