Title: Violence, Collective Action and Agrarian Transitions in Coastal Ecuador Since 1900
Name: Steve Striffler
Department of Anthropology
University of Arkansas
Old Main, 330
Fayetteville, AR. 72701
striffler@hotmail.com
Year: 1997
Type: Dissertation Fellowship
Summary:

My research on Ecuador examined how violence between and among plantation workers, peasants, landlords, labor activists, and the state helped transform that country's banana industry. In the first half of the century, the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita) purchased large quantities of land, hired thousands of workers, and established one of the largest banana plantations in Ecuador's southern coast. To maintain control, the multinational utilized various forms of violence, but by and large preferred the carrot to the stick. In exchange for hard work and political conformity, the company offered high wages, cheap housing, and exceptional benefits. In the late 1950s an agricultural disease destroyed much of the plantation and United Fruit began laying off workers. By 1960, most of the workers had been fired, and in 1962 they invaded the plantation, forcing United Fruit from the property and the country. The rest of my study examines the emergence of the subsequent system of banana production contract farming and the role that violence played in creating and sustaining that system. With United Fruit out of the picture, the struggle for land was intense, involving sustained patterns of violence between police forces, the military, peasant-workers, and landlords. The current system, whereby Ecuadorian landlords produce bananas under contract for the major multinationals, is sustained by violence emanating from a range of groups.

Bibliography: Striffler, Steve. In the Shadows of State and Capital: The United Fruit Company,
Popular Struggle, and Agrarian Restructuring in Ecuador, 1900-1995
. (2002, Duke University Press).