Cuyamel Fruit Company

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Cuyamel Fruit Company

Cuyamel Fruit Company, a large banana-producing enterprise in Honduras founded by Samuel Zemurray. After arriving in Puerto Cortés, Honduras, in 1905, Zemurray purchased the properties and concessionaire's rights of William F. Streich. In 1911, with plans of expanding beyond the Honduran northern coast, Zemurray incorporated Cuyamel, only to discover that Honduran president Miguel Dávila had negotiated a customs receivership agreement with the United States. The agreement provided Dávila with a loan from New York bankers, secured by a U.S. customs receiver, who would have restricted Cuyamel's duty-free imports. To protect his interests, Zemurray supported Manuel Bonilla Chirinos in a coup that ousted Dávila in 1911. In return, the new president granted Zemurray generous concessions. Zemurray turned to large-scale irrigation, flooding of inferior lowlands, and selective pruning that enabled Cuyamel to compete successfully against the United Fruit Company (UFCO). In 1915, Zemurray expanded Cuyamel's holdings into the Motagua Valley along the disputed border between Honduras and Guatemala. In 1929, UFCO bought out Cuyamel for $31.5 million. The agreement also required Zemurray to retire from the banana industry. He returned to New Orleans as UFCO's largest shareholder, a position he subsequently used to take over the operations of that company.

See alsoBanana Industry .


Charles D. Kepner and Jay H. Soothill, The Banana Empire (1935).

Charles M. Wilson, Empire in Green and Gold: The Story of the American Banana Trade (1947).

Stacy May and Galo Plaza, The United Fruit Company in Latin America (1958).

Thomas P. Mc Cann, An American Company: The Tragedy of United Fruit (1976).

Additional Bibliography

Argueta, Mario. Bananos y política: Samuel Zemurray y la Cuyamel Fruit Company en Honduras. Tegucigalpa: Editorial Universitaria, 1989.

García Buchard, Ethel. Poder político, interés bananero e identidad nacional en Centro América: Un estudio comparativo: Costa Rica (1884–1938) y Honduras (1902–1958). Tegucigalpa: Editorial Universitaria, 1997.

                                  Thomas M. Leonard