“La United Fruit Co.” por Pablo Neruda

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am planning to use the poem “La United Fruit Co.” published by Pablo Neruda in 1950 in a series of pre-viewing lessons for the film “Diarios de motocicleta.”


A text called Graded Spanish Reader: Primera Etapa by Cengage Learning has pre- and post-reading activities for the poem. It also has other good readings for upper level Spanish classes.

The textbook Pasajes: Literatura also has good pre- and post-reading activities. What I particularly like about this book is that it has a very nice black-and-white drawing of the poem that students can use to interpret the poem.

As with the poem “A Roosevelt” there are references to historical figures that the students will not recognize. Again, I’d like to mention Momentos cumbres de las literaturas hispanicas published by Pearson as a resource. What is particularly useful in this text is that it has “códigos” before each reading to help students to understand background information for the literary work, such as social, political, historical and geographical contexts. Someone has so kindly placed the contexts and some of the questions for “La United Fruit Co.” into a Word document.

Here is a gem that a teacher created to accompany the movie “Diarios de motocicleta.” The lessons are found at http://pier.macmillan.yale.edu/lesson-plans-5 and include “La United Fruit Co.” Just scroll down to  “Diarios de motocicleta: La evolución del Che” to access the documents. One item that the teacher incorporates that I find particularly interesting is a mural by Diego Rivera that I had not previously seen called “Gloriosa Victoria.”


Here are resources about the mural that are in English. One interesting fact about the painting is that it disappeared in 1956 and did not re-appear until 2006  It is also interesting to note that Ernesto “Che” Guevara was in Guatemala during the CIA-backed coup in 1954 and witnessed what was happening.



Another resource that not only works with the poem but also the socio-political context for the poem is the site http://atlas-caraibe.certic.unicaen.fr/es/page-243.html

If you are interested in teaching more about the United Fruit Company, now called Chiquita, the Zinn Education Project has a video clip and reading excerpt in English at http://zinnedproject.org/materials/the-united-fruit-company/.

I think the following illustration would be useful to show the reach of the United Fruit Company in Latin America:


An historical event that relates to the poem is la masacre de las bananeras in Ciénaga, Colombia in 1928, which was a confrontation between the United Fruit Company and the workers. Gabriel García Márquez included this event in his novel Cien años de soledad.

Here is a good text about the massacre: http://cut.org.co/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/MASACRE-DE-LAS-BANANERAS.pdf

Here is a political cartoon that relates to the text about the massacre:


Here is a short, animated video that briefly describes the conflict: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=505Q-Um1KHw



In looking at the resources I have gathered, I believe the best way to organize the lessons would be to start with a brief history of Banana Republics and the United Fruit Company, incorporated the Colombian banana massacre and the Guatemalan coup as illustrated in the mural “Gloriosa Victoria.”

The next step would be pre-reading work with the vocabulary and concepts from the poem “La United Fruit Co.” Finally we will read and analyze the poem. Since I plan for the students to read “A Roosevelt” before this poem, we can then see how Neruda’s portrayal of the United States compares with that of Darío.

At this point the students are ready to watch the film “Diarios de motocicleta.” I believe the scene where the students can most strongly connect the poems to events in the film is the one at the Chuquicamata mine, owned by the U.S. Anaconda Mining Company.

After the film, my plan is to have students explore the life of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and the development of his revolutionary beliefs that motivated his later actions, leading to a student debate about his place in history.

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6 Responses to “La United Fruit Co.” por Pablo Neruda

  1. Pingback: “Diarios de motocicleta” | Señora B

  2. Pingback: “A Roosevelt” por Rubén Darío | Señora B

  3. KLBaker says:

    I love all of your ideas for pre-teaching this movie! Exactly what I’ve been looking for! Did you actually put together a plan for this? How did it work out in the classroom? I’d be interested to hear what, if anything you would tweak!

    • senorab72 says:

      I just showed the movie for the first time at my current school this past school year, but I really didn’t do any activities with it other than comprehension questions from FilmArobics due to my lack of time. This summer I used my blog to organize my resources and my thoughts. I have my United Fruit Co lesson done, and most of A Roosevelt. I also hope to do a post-movie lesson about Che Guevara using a reading, a couple of songs, and maybe a poem written by Nicolás Guillén. I will be using it all this school year. I can update the blog with how it goes. 🙂

  4. ken leber says:

    Excelletn website and resources! Thank you!

  5. Pingback: “Diarios de motocicleta” | Señora B

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