Credit: Hulton Archive/Print Collector/Getty Images

Historical Insights Coups in Honduras

The expansion of the banana industry in Honduras launched the first organized labor movements and major strikes in the nation’s history. About 1905, The Caribbean. Credit: Hulton Archive/Print Collector/Getty Images

Coups in Honduras

Decades of heavy-handed U.S. intervention in Honduras incited a pervasive, bloody rebellion during the early 1900s.

By the 20th century, American companies had established expansive fruit plantations in Honduras. The United States received 75 percent of the country’s exports, while hundreds of thousands of locals relied on plantations for wages. The exploitative relationship gave rise to frustration among Hondurans, exacerbated by the 1920 installation of an American-friendly president who protected U.S. business interests over those of his country. When Honduras stopped cooperating, the United States blocked their exports and the country dissolved into chaos—widespread looting and violence ensued. Thousands joined the rebellions, unleashing their pent-up vexations. The American marines and sailors that arrived to protect plantations failed to quell the violence. Over the next three years, 17 uprisings took place. The poor in isolated rural areas endured violence from the sidelines as scores perished in the capital city. In 1925, tenuous order returned when the United States lifted its economic embargo on fruit, but discord would plague the country for decades.