Column title ‘Banana Republic’ is offensive

I was upset this morning [Jan. 31, 2006] to open up the Tufts Daily and read an article about Bolivia’s new president with a header above the headline stating “BANANA REPUBLIC INSIGHTS” [“Banana Republic Insights | Tickle Me Evo: New Bolivian president faces many tall tasks”].

As you might know, the term “BANANA REPUBLIC” is loaded with meaning. The American Heritage Dictionary defines the term as “a small country that is economically dependent on a single export commodity, such as bananas, and is typically governed by a dictator or the armed forces.”

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary states that this term is especially applied to countries “run despotically.” Furthermore, Britannica Student Encyclopedia states in its entry for Central America that the term is a “disparaging label” often applied to countries in this region.

Wikipedia defines it as “a pejorative term for a small, often Latin American or Caribbean country, politically unstable, dependent on limited agriculture, and ruled by a small, wealthy and corrupt clique.” Wikipedia not only offers a history of the term, but also an explanation of how the term is used now.

It states, “In modern usage the term has come to be used to describe a generally unstable or ‘backward’ dictatorial regime, especially one where elections are often fraudulent and corruption is rife.”

I am writing to let you know not only that Bolivia is not one of the major banana producing countries, which are sometimes pejoratively called banana republics.

I am writing to let you know that this is an offensive term loaded with negative meaning which surely does not belong in the Glocal Economics section of the Tufts Daily.

As I know that it was not anyone’s intention at the Daily to offend its readers, I only ask that you refrain from using this header in the future and that you do your best to prevent similar situations in the future.

Sebastian Chaskel

LA ’07


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