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The dark history of bananas - John Soluri

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In December 1910, the exiled former leader Manuel Bonilla boarded a borrowed yacht and set sail for Honduras in hopes of reclaiming power by whatever means necessary. Bonilla had a powerful backer: the notorious organization known throughout Latin America as “El Pulpo.” It was a U.S. corporation trafficking in, of all things, bananas. John Soluri investigates the United Fruit Company.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator John Soluri
  • Director Sofia Pashaei
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Sound Designer André Aires
  • Music André Aires
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more
Additional Resources for you to Explore
Bananas are the world’s most widely consumed fruit. At the start of the twentieth century, bananas became big business, giving rise to the United Fruit Company — one of the world’s first multinational business corporations. How did this mighty “economic empire” influence politics, society, and environments in Central America?

ProMusa is a network for scientific discussions on bananas. “Musa” is the scientific name for bananas. The site has a wealth of information, including: a “Musapedia” with lots of facts about bananas, images of the incredible diversity of bananas, and an extensive bibliography of all things banana.

BananaLink is a United Kingdom-based organization that works for fair and equitable production and trade in bananas and pineapples based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Their website has excellent graphics and is among the most up-to-date on changes taking place in the industry.

Visualizing the Americas is a recently launched project hosted by the University of Toronto that examines the history of capitalism through the production and consumption of the banana. It preserves and digitizes rare, endangered records that are integral to the histories of the multinational banana companies or to the histories of the communities in which the companies operated. The digitized archives are freely accessible to anyone in the world.

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Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator John Soluri
  • Director Sofia Pashaei
  • Narrator Jack Cutmore-Scott
  • Sound Designer André Aires
  • Music André Aires
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-Checker Eden Girma
  • See more