THE AMERICAS: Trouble in Green Gold

The bold adventurers who ranged through Central America toppling governments and creating the sprawling United Fruit Co. banana empire are long gone. There was Lorenzo Dow Baker, the founder, a Massachusetts schooner captain who got into bananas back in 1870 when he found that the fruit he skeptically picked up for 25¢ a bunch in Jamaica fetched $2.50 a bunch or more in New York. There was Minor C. Keith, who hacked through Central American jungles a railroad line that, according to legend, cost a human life for every tie in the first 25 miles. And then there was Russian-born...

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