The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana. . . So in this postelection landscape, let’s not aggravate income gaps that already would make a Latin American caudillo proud. To me, we’ve reached a banana republic point where our inequality has become both economically unhealthy and morally repugnant.I often use this neat trick in class (or at least I think it's neat) to illustrate how intrusive the US has been in its relations with the Spanish-speaking world: I ask the students something like "So which powerful country made it possible for a fascist dictator to remain in power in Spain until 1975?" or "Which country aided the bloody military dictatorships in Argentina and Chile?" While the students are mulling over the possible answers, a huge picture of the US flag gradually appears on the screen. So tomorrow, when the students ask me what a banana republic is, I will simply press the button and let the US flag appear on the screen once again.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
My course on Hispanic Civilization is winding to a close. Today, I was preparing a lecture on the economic problems of Latin American countries in the XXth century. The term "banana republic" comes up on several occasions in the texts we will be discussing in class. So I decided to search online for a precise definition of this term. And look what I found in Nicholas Kristof's recent article in The New York Times:
Posted by Clarissa at 2:01 PM