Banana Land: Blood, Bullets and Poison

Banana Land: Blood, Bullets and Poison

2014, Crime  -   54 Comments
Ratings: 8.59/10 from 547 users.

Bananas are by far the most popular fruit in the United States, but consumers know little about the conditions in which they are produced. Banana Land provides a fascinating and surprising peek behind the curtain into an underworld marked by great turmoil and sacrifice.

Delicious taste aside, the unanimous popularity of the banana lies in its low cost to the consumer; it's decidedly cheaper than other fruits in the supermarket such as apples or pears. Banana Land lays bare the ultimate result of these low prices in the form of cheap pesticides, abusive labor practices and comprised environmental standards.

As illuminated in the film, the crisis in the banana industry harbors even more nefarious implications than those already cited. The banana business model began in 1899 with the formation of the United Fruit Company (UFC). The company monopolized the industry, attracting investments from wealthy and powerful players throughout the globe, which in turn led to the protections and support of lawmakers in Washington. In order to ensure that bananas would remain the lowest cost fruit on the market, the UFC partnered with repressive regimes throughout Central America. These regimes worked to stifle any objections from the industry's exploited workers, even in the form of massive bloodshed.

As argued by the film's esteemed interview subjects, these practices set a precedent which remains intact today. This is evidenced by the Chiquita Corporation's admitted financial support of the United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia, a paramilitary group which worked to defend the economic interests of the region by violently attacking its opposition.

Handsomely produced and featuring a series of searing interviews with experts who work among the front line of the conflict, Banana Land exposes the inner workings of an industry in which little is known by average consumers. Behind the appealing polish of playful marketing campaigns lies a world fraught with unspeakable violence, corporate and political greed, and egregious violations of the most basic human rights. With great insight and clarity, and unblinking footage of abhorrent working conditions and episodes of violent upheaval, the film paints a vivid portrait of an industry gone bananas.

Directed by: Jason Glaser, Diego Lopez

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11 months ago

The movie might be interesting but I did not enjoy the quality of the sound. I think the music was too lound and unneccessary. It was very "violent" to my ears.

2 years ago

According to the documentary, what was the reason for men becoming infertile and children being born with disorders?

4 years ago

I get it, I really get that the banana republic is evil. But not eating bananas is not how power vaccumes work. I am not putting pure violence in my mouth, because one way or another I would have a banana. Because as long as bananas exist, someone is selling them. So its the system that needs to change. I liked the buy from organic farms option, ill go with that.

5 years ago

Hi this is very sick here in honduras was a Honduran writer that wrote about this problem the book is called green prison by Ramon Amaya Amador you guy should read it

5 years ago

Wonderful documentary... but sadly, the problem is much deeper than a few corporations that are just "inhumanely evil". "Making those businessmen rich" -- neither Dole nor Chiquita make any money, their profit margins are in the very low single digits. They're squeezed almost as much as these workers, they're just higher up the food chain. What is happening here... is an inevitability of the relative power dynamics. Also, I'm sorry, but does Equador have a... "government"?

5 years ago

Note to producers- It’s COLOMBIA not Columbia- “United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia”

5 years ago

"The world is a cruel and unfair place. That's nature." Is that a justification for abuse?
I hope you are not a naturally cruel and unfair person or the name 'Justin' doesn't fit.
Maybe your concept of nature is different. Men and corporations are cruel and unfair; nothing to do with nature or being Okay. Greed and poisoning is not nature.
The point of the film was pesticide poisoning. Is poison nature or natural?
Or are we willing to be sterilized for the sake of money? Or maybe it's not us that gets poisoned so we don't understand. I'm sure with a little effort you can find a banana plantation and work there. They need people willing to be sterilized.
Where is the responsibility of Dole?
It's Dole who will kill people for profit instead of giving a fair wage and healthy working conditions. And when they don't get their way, they turn tail and run like irresponsible children.
It may be normal business but not natural. Maybe perverse..........

5 years ago

what a one-sided film. I live in Puerto Armuelles, Panama built from ground up in the 1920s by the united fruit company. This little town was once one of the cleanest, nicest towns in the country. United Fruit employed 7,000 people, many of them middle managers who earned far more than minimum wage. The teachers were imported from the US and all kids, regardless of class or race were taught for free. The unions drove the company out of this town in the 1990s and since then the town has completely fallen apart. The population has fallen by half, drugs and rampant, infrastructure crumbling and the workers y'all care about so much haven't had a job in 2 decades. The world is a cruel and unfair place. That's nature but ask the people in this town if they'd take united fruit back, and they would
In a minute.

6 years ago

I am disgusted and shocked. Families being terrorized for greed, and some politics involved of course.

Dave Scotese
6 years ago

"... if reform became a goal of workers, governments, and consumers alike... "
I strike government from this list. Government tends to create laudable goals and then cause them to be incomplete and pervert them into government-support engines. If and when a government EVER completes a laudable goal, the collection of tax revenue created to reach that goal loses its foundation and the government thereby loses that revenue. It is a recipe for impoverishment of the government because of how governments work.

Government must be stricken from any list of participants in a laudable goal. Good examples of how laudable goals are perverted and prevented by the involvement of government are the "War on Poverty," "Public school," and the "War on Terror." Study any of these things deeply and you will discover that government (that is, the public sanction of violence in the form of "law enforcement") is counterproductive to the goals of humanity.

As Lord Acton said, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Stop giving them any. Workers and consumers alone are better suited to solve this problem without any sanction for the use of legislators and the violence they inspire.

Blair M Schirmer
6 years ago

God damn it.

6 years ago

Thank you Jason Glaser and Diego to bring this issue up to table. Most people do care as long as they know. Also, I checked the website:, is it under construction? Is there anyway we can know more about it or do more about it to help the victims beside just buying organic banana or share the infomation? Thank you.

6 years ago

I saw this on the BBC a while back and thought it was a great documentary. Do me a favor though and learn how to spell the article above the spell it like the school and not like the country....

7 years ago

It sickens me to know that the main stream media does not turn it's focus on something as horrible as this. But what sickens me more, is knowing that the people behind it continue to sleep well at night, and just don't care.

They go to church on sunday pretending to be good christians, while in reality they are as evil as they can be.

7 years ago

Why don't the people band together, start a revolution, and overthrow their corrupt government allowing corporations to exploit them? It's hard to feel guilty for those that choose not to help themselves. Every single human being on this planet has had ancestors who were enslaved and exploited. This is nothing new. The people of the Banana Republics are 'allowing' this to happen. Also there is no law that states that these workers MUST live DIRECTLY by a plantation. They can move, but they prefer the convenience. If someone chose to live by a nuclear power plant, wouldn't the first rational question be: "Why?"

Sammie Galati
7 years ago

The bananas that we knew and loved from the 50's no longer exist. EVERY banana that you eat today is a genetically modified clone of the original Candevish variety, that at a minimum is radiated. The industry is currently looking for it's replacement now as the current variety is very susceptible to fungus. Due to the clone chain, if one is vulnerable the entire supply is affected. The genetic modification is what enables growers to pack, gas, and extend the shelf life for 3 weeks.

7 years ago

a eye opener on the companies... They should be made to make safety for all workers..

7 years ago

I've really taken a lot away from this documentary, such profound and raw emotions. I don't know how or if this history affects how Australia produces or funds its bananas but I will certainly ensure I'm not funding such injustice.

7 years ago

This was sure a great eye opener, to see that the corp. running the banana plantation hAVE no regards of the people in these countries. it sure makes me very sad. to be called an American

7 years ago

This is an multilayered epidemic. It's as convoluted and simple as human nature. The hope is this: times are changing. Collective human consciousness is gaining speed. Trust that we, who are aware and appalled and moral, will have begun a movement that future generations will lead and embody until absolute justice is served. Oppression kills before its opposing force shatters it to smithereens. Until the time comes, stay strong everyone. Stay strong. Stand firm. And know that ONCE MORE---acceptance of diversity is the ultimate answer. I want to taste all the 300 types of bananas that exist. Yellow kills. Blood bananas are bad luck. Karma. Do t touch them.

7 years ago

Im never going to buy bananas again after watching this. what a sick world we live in. how can people spray POISON over families houses and destroy peoples lives and kill people and rip apart families all for a FRICKIN BANANA!!! well, not the banana its all about the $$$.. I wish I lived near one of those farms I would leave death threats at the banana plant saying "Fly the plane at your own risk! Planes will be shot at!" I would shoot those planes down and i would make sure those who flew the planes knew that they are dropping bullets at people and they would recieve the same towards their planes. If i lived over their I would devote my life to being a hunter and hunt down and kill the people flying the planes and running the plants. Im not sure why there isnt more of a war going on over there. the people should unite and kill the people running the company. Man they are lucky people dont have sniper rifles and shoot the planes down. I would be scared to fly those planes. I hope someone reads this comment that lives near a banana plant and starts shooting them down. it would be nice to see another documentary of how they can not fly planes anymore because they get shot down. look what they did to your loved ones with those chemicals are you really going to sit back and watch that happen? i wouldnt. get some guns people and blow them out of the air!

Arlene Montemarano
7 years ago

These people are appealing to the outside world to care about them. We can at the very least refuse to buy these poisoned tainted fruits, and thereby support only the organic banana growers. I want the food that I feed to my family to be clean, clean of poisons and clean of the pain and suffering caused by the industry.

7 years ago

Our world is controlled by monsters

7 years ago

Awesome film. I knew something about the topic already, but it made my blood boil. What a sick, disgusting, putrid, monstrous way to produce so-called 'food'.

But I must add that the banana industry is just one manifestation of a much bigger problem. The entire world, its governments, its industries, its education systems, its health systems, its banking and financials systems, its security apparatuses, even its education and religious systems, is infested by an insane, demonic pursuit of unaccountable power, money, and control over others. The conspiracy 'loons' are really on to something. The bottom line is that we probably will never defeat this insanity if we continue to see it as many separate issues. We need to get at the rot at the root, which is nastier than any banana fungus could ever be. Our world is controlled by monsters.

7 years ago

mono culture crops of any kind require huge amounts of pesticides.

Christian Cruzata
7 years ago

This documentary makes me recall the famous movie in which Leonardo Di Caprio starred. I am talking about BLOODY DIAMONDS. It is basically the same plot in which those who have overwhilming power abose and reabused of those who can't defend themselves. I hope some day an honest but brave film maker or movie director may have the courage to make a movie called BLODDY BANANAS.

Kash Jay
7 years ago

Fantastic and eye opening. Thank you for your work and spreading the truth.

7 years ago

Pretty soon we wont be able to eat anything. If you stop buying it, the prices will drop further and the problem will get WORSE. Dont you understand economics?

7 years ago

Truly astounding.Even thou I eat only Organic fruits and veggies. Have lost my Desire for Bananas .This is a must watch Doc another reason why the TTP Trans Pacific Partnership should. not go thru. More abuse Globally with no accountability .This DARK ACT D=DENT the A=AMERICANS the R=RIGHT to K=KNOW . All this and more . Not good for anyone on the Planet . Thank you TOP DOCUMENTARY for my emails. I do not watch TV of any kind I watch things as this Impact Films that can stimulate awareness an change .

Sue Hughes
7 years ago

This doc was a real eye opener for me. Bananas were my morning smoothie staple. No more. All the more reason to grow your own food when possible.

drew hempel
7 years ago

In 1992 I toured a Chiquita banana plantation in Costa Rica as part of my semester college program with School for Field Studies Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development. At the end of the tour Chiquita offered all the students free bananas. I was the only one who refused to eat the bananas. We learned how the chemicals had killed off the animals - the crocodiles, etc. and harmed the workers.

This is a great doc since it corroborates the Bananas! doc made by the Swedish film makers then sued by Dole to censor the film and to attempt to discredit the workers suing due to sterility from the pesticides.

Also Dole was part of the illegal take-over of Hawaii - the Dole plantation colonization business is deep in U.S. history.

Equal Exchange has strong standards - you can buy their bananas at cooperative stores. I've heard the organic label option used by Chiquita is not to be trusted - i wouldn't be surprised after watching this doc.

7 years ago

The moment this documentary started, I was engaged. I couldn't look away. I needed to know, and the fact that I have loved ones who eat bananas so casually, even I! We all do it so blindly, thinking little of the story behind the banana. We just assume and that's were we all went wrong. We assume that these multi-billionaire companies have the greatest intentions set in mind for their consumers, when the complete opposite is true! I'm filled with rage after watching this! I wish I could help out, reach out somehow and just start making the world a better place because I know one day it will all come down to it! I will spread this documentary around, because as it has inspired me and changed me perspective, I'm positive it will for others too! Thank you for this documentary and thank you for supporting this cause!

7 years ago

Jason Glaser - this docu was very good - I was aware of the pesticide usage from other docus about palm oil, but this was a real eye opener about banana monoculture. I had no idea all bananas were clones!
Definite switch to organic if I want naners.

Another place to look into worker abuse is the Niger Delta. It's really all over the place, and usually US or British multinational corps are at the helm :/ I wish people would wake up and make the world a better place.

labute rabe
8 years ago

I'm convinced. Think glabally, act locally. You have to hit these companies where it hurts: their wallets. I'll look for fair trade bananas. It's also completely inappropriate for Banana Republic to gets its name from exploited countries.

Chris P
8 years ago

Fantastic and eye opening documentary. Definitely one that I'll remember and shape my buying habits from.

8 years ago

Thanks for this eye opening documentary. Brilliant job!.....It's organic from now on for my family.

8 years ago

thanks for telling the i know why i do not care for bananas.

8 years ago

such a shame that people have to live in conditions like those. those who are comfortable doing such things are not human but selfish and greedy and GODLESS in the end they will reap what they sew.

8 years ago

Wow! I will not buy any more bananas unless they're organic. This Documentary was an eye opener for me.

8 years ago

Great job !!!!!!!!

8 years ago

I am deeply grateful that I watched this documentary; I find myself speechless. I am ashamed of the way so many in the world value profit over people, convenience and pleasure over decency. Thank you Jason and Diego for working to share truth with consumers and for giving voice to those whose labor is exploited and whose voices are silenced/ignored. Your documentary was beautifully shot, clear and effective, and I really appreciated that you opted for subtitles - it is important for people to speak for themselves - not be dubbed over.

I will never buy another banana from Dole, Del Monte, or Chiquita again, and I will do what I can to share this information with my friends and family.

Jason Glaser
8 years ago

Thanks everyone, I'm one of the directors (Diego is the other) Let us know what else you think. We are working on a documentary on sugarcane workers right now. Means a lot that people seem to enjoy the piece so much and its having the intended effect of people thinking twice about buying bananas from the big guys. Equal Exchange is pretty great if you can find them, so it's not a total loss for people who love the yellow fruit, but they're hard to find sadly.

As far as doing voice instead of text. Trust me, it would be cost prohibitive for us to find that many solid voice actors and I just frankly don't like it. However, I will give it a good think for the next project.

8 years ago

I wish the folks who make these informative documentaries would use speech instead of the written translations -- very difficult to see these!!!!

Ken A
8 years ago

Scathing documentary, well done. Should be required-viewing in all high schools.

thomas biehl
8 years ago

Only eat organic banana, if you dont want to be part of whats going on !

louise manelia
8 years ago

That solves it. No more bananas for me, organic or otherwise. I have not eaten any in quite a while and now I can justify why.

The BesT
8 years ago

Anyone Buying regular ( pesticide type ) Banana should STOP
and Buy Organic Banana offered in most Grocery now for a few cents more but Taste so much better and doesn't leave a terrible after taste and of Course Doesn't get Chemicals in high Quantity inside your Body and your Kids .