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Sam Zemurray migrated from the Russian empire to the United States at age 14; created a banana empire in Latin America, which morphed into United Fruit company. He orchestrated a coup again the President of Honduras, a coup which the United States didn’t want. Later he convinced the US to help overthrow Guatemala’s Swiss German president Arbenz. Arbenz wanted to expropriate United Fruit lands, while apparently leaving the large German coffee plantations, to which he was linked, untouched. Arbenz took weapons from the Soviet block, which helped convince the US government to listen to Zemurray.

Later Zemurray reportedly helped to fund the Nation magazine. Perhaps so they could tell everyone that it’s all because of American imperialism, rather than an on-the-make immigrant from the Russian Empire?

Before running back across this guy, we had been wondering how many of the construction projects proposed as part of Jared Kushner’s “peace plan” would benefit the real estate interests of the Kushners and Trumps. The Kushners were also from the old Russian Empire. They were refugees, but Zemurray may have been a refugee, too, as was Meyer Lansky. Zemurray was apparently a chain migrant, as his uncle seems to have already established a store. The Trumps were certainly on-the-make economic migrants. And, Trump’s mother was born in the UK. Another on-the-make immigrant, for whom the US is getting the blame, is Holtec’s Kris Singh of India. Born and raised in India, but his privately held company gets called “American”, because he set up shop in the United States. Never mind then his apparent shell companies in Cyprus (closed in Jan 2016) and in Hong Kong (opened in Oct. 2015).

Zemurray helped establish Tulane University’s School of Tropical Medicine, because it was in his interest: “Samuel Zemurray provided financial support for the founding of the country’s first School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at Tulane in 1912.[1] Known as “Sam the Banana Man,” Zemurray backed the institution in part given his own business interests in the banana industry in Honduras, which were at the time greatly affected by diseases like yellow fever. His banana schemes also prompted him to organize and support a military coup at around the same time against Honduran President Miguel R. Dávila in order to restore Manuel Bonilla to power, since Bonilla offered favorable tax breaks and railway concessions for Zemurray’s business interests.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulane_University_School_of_Public_Health_and_Tropical_Medicine
Zemurray may be the origin of Tulane’s reputed ties to the CIA, as well as their Latin American library. We were looking for any Tulane research on Ebola in DR Congo (Zaire) and started reading about Zemurray.

Samuel Zemurray (nicknamed “Sam the Banana Man”;[1] born Schmuel Zmurri; January 18, 1877 – November 30, 1961) was a businessman who made his fortune in the banana trade. He founded the Cuyamel Fruit Company, and later became head of the United Fruit Company, the world’s most influential fruit company at the time.[2] Both companies played highly controversial roles in the history of several Latin American countries and had a significant influence on their economic and political development.

Formerly Zemurray’s home, this mansion on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans is now the residence for presidents of Tulane University

Zemurray’s birth name was Schmuel Zmurri (Yiddish: ‫זמורי ‎שמואל‎‬‎, Russian: Шмуэль Давидович Змура, Shmuyel Davidovich Zmura). He was born in Kishinev, Bessarabia, Russian Empire (present-day Chişinău, Moldova,) to a poor Jewish family that emigrated to America when he was 14. Zemurray had no formal education. He settled in Selma, Alabama, where his uncle owned a store, and where he encountered bananas for the first time. He entered the banana trade in Mobile, in 1895, at the age 18. His early wealth was largely due to a very successful venture in New Orleans.

Before Zemurray, the bananas that ripened in the transport ships were discarded upon arrival at the port, because they could not be delivered to market quickly enough to avoid spoilage. Zemurray bought the ripe bananas very cheaply and sold them locally and along the rail lines to grocers within a day of New Orleans. His success earned him the nickname “Sam the Banana Man”.[3] By age 21, he had banked $100,000. He later bought a steamship and went to Honduras. In 1910, he bought 5,000 acres (20 km²) of land along the Cuyamel River. He later added more land and found himself heavily in debt.

At the time, the governments of Honduras and Nicaragua were working to reschedule their sovereign debt. United States Secretary of State Philander C. Knox was involved in the negotiations, which would have agents of bankers J.P. Morgan and Company sitting in the countries’ customs offices to collect the taxes needed to repay the debt.

Zemurray feared that he would be taxed out of business and appealed to Knox for help. Knox spurned him, so Zemurray returned to New Orleans, where deposed Honduran president Manuel Bonilla was living in exile. Zemurray contracted two mercenaries, Guy “Machine Gun” Molony and Lee Christmas, who along with Bonilla devised a plan to overthrow the Honduran government. Zemurray smuggled Bonilla back to Honduras, along with a ship full of powerful weapons, and Bonilla was successfully returned to power in a military coup. Bonilla then granted Zemurray the land concessions and low taxes that saved his business.

In 1930, Zemurray sold his company, Cuyamel Fruit, to the rival United Fruit Company[2] of Boston for $31.5 million in stock, and retired. United Fruit suffered financially because of mismanagement and the Great Depression, so much so that its stock declined in value by 90% after it acquired Cuyamel.[4] This encouraged Zemurray to return to the banana business by buying a controlling share of United Fruit and voting out the board of directors. Zemurray reorganized the company, decentralized decision-making and made the company profitable once more.

In 1953, the U.S. State Department and United Fruit embarked on a major public relations campaign to convince the American people and the rest of the U.S. government that Colonel Jacobo Arbenz intended to make Guatemala a Soviet “satellite”. Zemurray authorized Edward Bernays to launch a propaganda campaign against Col. Arbenz’s democratically elected government, which intended to expropriate some of the unused land owned by the United Fruit Co. and redistribute it to the local peasants. In 1954, the campaign succeeded and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency helped orchestrate a coup that replaced Arbenz with a military junta led by Col. Carlos Castillo Armas.[4]

Zemurray retired as president of United Fruit in late 1951.[5] He and his family made generous donations to Tulane University (including a large collection of Mayan artifacts discovered in banana fields), the Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School, and to other philanthropic ventures, including the Zionist movement through his personal acquaintance, beginning in the 1920s, with Chaim Weizmann. Zemurray supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal policies,[4] helping to draft the Agricultural Adjustment Administration industry codes [1], and contributed financially to left-wing causes, such as The Nation magazine.[6] despite Zemurray having written to The Nation in 1950 to dispute its earlier article which referred to the United Fruit Company as an “obstacle of progress in Central America”.[7] He created the Zemurray Foundation in 1951.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Zemurray

[The Wikipedia article fails to make the timeline clear. According to UnitedFruit.org: “After Zemurray retired in 1951, he remained as chairman of the executive committee of United Fruit. In that position it has been said that he had an important role in engineering the overthrow of the government of Guatemala in 1954, after the democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz began expropriating the company’s plantations in order to follow his agrarian reform project. Zemurray led a campaign that portraied Arbenz as a dangerous Communist in the American media. Working together with an advertisement company he distributed alarmist propaganda among the press and Congressmen in which he showed Guatemala as a foothold of the Soviet Union in the Western Hemisphere. This campaign was eventually successful, since the CIA sponsored a military coup against Arbenz, in which the rebels used United Fruit boats to transport troops and ammunition. The colonel who led the coup, Carlos Castllo, set back Arbenz labor and agrarian reforms and harshly repressed the opposition. In 1961, United Fruit also provided two ships for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.” Read more here: http://www.unitedfruit.org/zemurray.htm

Wikipedia continues: “Zemurray died in New Orleans in 1961, where he had lived for most of his life; his mansion on Audubon Place was donated to Tulane University and is now the residence of its president.[3] His daughter, Doris Zemurray Stone, an archaeologist and ethnographer, served as the director of the National Museum of Costa Rica and endowed various professorial chairs in U.S. universities.

1. ^ http://www.vaguedirection.com/everybody-panic-theres-nothing-we-can-do/
2. ^ a b Steven Heller (March 13, 2012). “America’s Original Fast Food”. Salon.com.
3. ^ a b Cohen, Rich (June 6, 2012). “The Birth of America’s Banana King: An excerpt from Rich Cohen’s The Fish That Ate the Whale”. Slate.com.
4. ^ a b c Grushkin, Daniel (June 7, 2012). “Book Review: ‘The Fish That Ate the Whale,’ by Rich Cohen”. Businessweek.com.
5. ^ Samuel Zemurray (1877-1961)”. United Fruit Historical Society. 2001 http://www.unitedfruit.org/zemurray.htm
6. ^ “Samuel Zemurray (1877-1961)”. United Fruit Historical Society. 2001 http://www.unitedfruit.org/zemurray.htm
7. ^ Buiso, Emily (March 17, 2008). “Banana Kings: The history of banana cultivation is rife with labor and environmental abuse, corporate skulduggery and genetic experiments gone awry”. The Nation.


* Peter Chapman. Bananas: How the United Fruit Company Shaped the World. New York, NY: Canongate, 2008.
* The Associated Press. “Samuel Zemurray, 84, Is Dead; Headed United Fruit Company”. The New York Times, December 2, 1961.
* Thomas P. McCann. On the Inside. Beverly, Massachusetts: Quinlan Press, 1987.
* Chaim Weizmann (1949). Trial and Error: The Autobiography of Chaim Weizmann. Jewish Publication Society of America.
* Maggie Heyn Richardson, “Banana Man”, Imagine Louisiana magazine, Summer 2007.
* Stephen Kinzer. Overthrow. New York, NY: Times Books, 2006.
* Rich Cohen. The Fish That Ate the Whale. New York, NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2012.
* Dan Koeppel. Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, Hudson Street Press.

External links
“America’s Gone Bananas: Here’s How It Happened”, by NPR Staff, June 2, 2012

* https://www.npr.org/2012/06/02/154153252/americas-gone-bananas-heres-how-it-happened
CC-BY-SA-3.0: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Zemurray https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

One must wonder if the land reforms under Swiss-German Arbenz and his half-German wife were designed to preserve the land of large German farmers? 672 acres is still a large farm. He expropriated uncultivated land from landholdings greater than 673 acres. His German father-in-law, a coffee planter, participated in the infamous massacre (“La Matanza“) of the indigenous peasants in El Salvador in 1932. One must wonder if United Fruit simply made an easier target for expropriation? Arbenz also bought weapons from communist Czechoslovakia and, at the time, communist East Germany was in the Soviet orbit. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2019/04/23/examining-the-exploitive-role-of-ethnic-germans-in-guatemala-to-better-contextualize-the-us-border-crisis/