A Translation of Pablo Neruda’s “La United Fruit Co.”

When the trumpet sounded,

All was prepared on Earth

And God divided the world between

Coca-Cola, Anaconda Copper,

Ford Motors, and other companies.

To the United Fruit Company

Went the juiciest piece,

The central coast of my world,

The sweet waist of the Americas.

 

It rechristened these lands

“Banana Republics,”

And over the sleeping dead,

Over the restless

Conquering heroes,

The liberty and the flags,

It established a farce:

It outlawed free will,

It handed out imperial crowns,

It unleashed envy.

It attracted a dictatorship of flies,

Trujillo flies, Tacho flies,

Carías flies, Martínez flies,

Ubico flies, flies wet

With the blood of the poor and marmalade,

Flies drunk and buzzing

Over the graves of the people,

Circus flies, flies

Well-versed in tyranny.

 

Among the bloody flies,

The Fruit Company made landfall,

Pillaging the coffee and the fruit.

In fleets like serving trays,

The treasure of our sunken lands

Slipped away.

 

Meanwhile,

In the sugary depths of the ports,

The fallen Indians were buried

In the morning mists:

A tumbling corpse, a nameless

Thing, a forgotten statistic,

A bunch of dead fruit

Tossed into the trash.

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