Banana Ballet

21 04 2008

This video is a quintessential example of America’s treatment of information about banana plantations and human rights violations.  If you were to close your eyes and listen solely to the music, you might assume that you were watching a happy, Latin ballet.  The opening welcomes amigos (friends) to the banana plantation.  But when you open your eyes, no one is dancing.  With sound off, it almost seems like the video is recorded in fast forward.  That’s how quickly to workers are moving, especially when they begin sorting and packing.  This is not rapid time.  This is the real pace of work.  The video is almost 4 minutes.  The workers do this for 14 hours a day.  The ending of the video is the most significant part.  The packer in the front keeps smiling at the camera.  While I don’t know him firsthand, I can bet that he isn’t actually glad to be there.  Workers are trained to appear happy when inspectors or reporters come to the plantations.  They are educated on how to answer questions and especially on how to lie.  If they tell the truth about their work conditions and treatment, they are fired.  So of course this worker is smiling for the camera.  Besides, it’s his Youtube debut.  He wants to make a good impression.

We’ve had our eyes closed on the banana industry for years.  We don’t want to see the truth about our beloved fruit.  And even when we do see it, we mask it with happy music and fake smiles.  But this is the reality: 

Banana plantations are exploitative.

They violate workers’ rights.

They cause cancer and disease.

They abuse, pollute, oppress and beat down. 

Open your eyes and turn off that happy music.  It is time we knew the truth.