Tabs from the Americas

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. drj says:

    Banana giant held liable for funding paramilitaries

    In case someone doesn’t know: the banana giant in question is Chiquita, formerly known as the United Fruit Company – the company that was basically responsible for creating the term banana republic.

    In certain countries, United Fruit was so economically so dominant that it could commandeer states to do its dirty work – or even overthrow governments (usually with some help of the CIA*) if these dared to introduce policies against its business interests.

    It doesn’t seem much has changed:

    A court in the United States has found multinational fruit company Chiquita Brands International liable for financing a Colombian paramilitary group.

    The group, the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), was designated by the US as a terrorist organisation at the time.

    Following a civil case brought by eight Colombian families whose relatives were killed by the AUC, Chiquita has been ordered to pay $38.3m (£30m) in damages to the families. […]

    The victims ranged from trade unionists to banana workers.

    The United Fruit Company even makes a thinly veiled appearance (as “the General Fruit Company”) in the Godfather, specifically in the golden telephone scene.

    * Fun fact: the Dulles brothers (John Foster Dulles, Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, and Allen Dulles, Director of the CIA under Eisenhower and Kennedy) were both alumni of United Fruit’s law firm Sullivan & Cromwell and were both directly involved with the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:


    A second case against Chiquita brought by another group of plaintiffs is due to start on 15 July.

    You got any dreams? We want them too.

  3. just nutha says:

    While I will agree on electing Supreme Court justices, part of me looks and thinks elected by ‘we the sheeple’/appointed by partisan hacks and demagogues, six of one/half dozen of the other. Call it an idea that lives at the corner of Damned if You Do Boulevard and Damned if You Don’t Parkway.

  4. Gustopher says:

    @just nutha: Elected by the people likely means fixed terms, and that the system isn’t vulnerable to the load-bearing septuagenarian problem the US has had, or the gaming of retirements.

    So, it might be a bad idea, but it’s still better than us!

  5. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: You live in a state that elects fixed-term Supreme Court justices; how much does that feature contribute to the dysfunction in Olympia? I never noticed that it made a difference while I lived there.

  6. Mister Bluster says:

    The golden telephone scene was in The Godfather Part II. Michael Corleone is in Havana, Cuba for a meeting of American industrialists with the soon to be overthrown Cuban President/dictator Fulgencio Batista. The telephone was a gift from the United Telephone and Telegraph Company. A fictional representation of the International Telephone and Telegraph Company.

    The brokers Colonel Sosthenes Behn and his brother Hernan Behn formed International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT) in 1920. The brothers had acquired the Puerto Rico Telephone Company in 1914, along with the Cuban-American Telephone and Telegraph Company and a half-interest in the Cuban Telephone Company.

    Don’t know if Coppola/Puzo were aware that in 1974 there existed an independent landline telephone company in the United States that was named United Telephone. I worked United Telephone exchanges in Indiana and Missouri in the 80’s.

  7. a country lawyer says:

    General Smedley Butler, much revered in the Marine Corps and two time recipient of the Medal of Honor, after retirement bemoaned the fact that in his service Marine Corps had been used by the moneyed interests to further their interests to the detriment of the South and Central American people. “I was a gangster for capitalism.” he said. He went on to enumerate specific instances including how he “..helped make Honduras right for the American Fruit Companies.”

  8. Ken_L says:

    Trump Republicans have responded to the arrival of Russian warships in Cuba in their usual measured, sensible fashion.

    Biden’s latest deterrence flop? The Cuban Missile Crisis, Part 2
    It’s easy to understand why the Post’s editorial board, which specialises in evidence-free world-on-fire hysteria that would make Lindsey Graham blush, chooses to remain anonymous.


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