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Afro-Jamaican traditions and labor organizing on United Fruit Company plantations in Costa Rica, 1910.

While Costa Rica's reputation of being the most pacific and homogeneous of the countries of Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies.  is not entirely undeserved un·de·served  
Not merited; unjustifiable or unfair.

, historians have increasingly called this view into question. Recent works have documented inequalities in land tenure land tenure: see tenure, in law. , concentrations of power, and social struggles which make Costa Rica Costa Rica (kŏs`tə rē`kə), officially Republic of Costa Rica, republic (2005 est. pop. 4,016,000), 19,575 sq mi (50,700 sq km), Central America.  look more like its Central American Central America

A region of southern North America extending from the southern border of Mexico to the northern border of Colombia. It separates the Caribbean Sea from the Pacific Ocean and is linked to South America by the Isthmus of Panama.
 neighbors than had previously been assumed.(1)

Left out of the consensual CONSENSUAL, civil law. This word is applied to designate one species of contract known in the civil laws; these contracts derive their name from the consent of the parties which is required in their formation, as they cannot exist without such consent.
 view of Costa Rican history, in particular, have been social and political developments in the country's Atlantic Coast province of Limon. Central America's Atlantic coast has traditionally been more closely linked to the Caribbean than to the rest of the isthmus isthmus (ĭs`məs), narrow neck of land connecting two larger land areas. Since it commands the only land route between two large areas and is on two seas, an isthmus has great strategical and commercial importance and is a favorable situation , and Limon's tropical rainforests have remained isolated from Costa Rica's cool, coffee-growing highlands until the present. However, in the late nineteenth century U.S.-based companies began to build railroads and plant bananas in Limon, recruiting workers primarily from Jamaica. Thus the society which developed in Limon was an English-speaking enclave of white North American North American

named after North America.

North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.

North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus.
 managers and black Jamaican workers, with a culture and history quite distinct from the rest of Costa Rica, although inevitably intertwined.(2) In particular, the extreme polarization of race and class on the Atlantic Coast contrasts sharply with the more homogeneous central valley.

Although Costa Rican nationalists and anti-imperialists have protested the United Fruit Company's domination of the Atlantic Coast for close to a century, they have generally had little contact with the Jamaican banana workers themselves.(3) This paper focuses on these workers and seeks to uncover the ways in which they attempted to challenge the presumably pre·sum·a·ble  
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster.
 dominant plantation system by creating a very different kind of life and society in its shadows. The workers brought with them a rich cultural tradition, based on their African background and their generations of plantation work under slavery for the British, which became the basis for organizations and collective action which allowed them to escape from, or to resist, Company domination. This culture of resistance encompassed several apparently contradictory elements: a British identity and a faith in the British Crown as the protector of the slave or worker's interests; involvement in Protestant Non-Conformist sects; and belief and participation in African-based religious forms.(4) In particular, I seek to illuminate the ways in which culture, belief systems and everyday forms of resistance grow into, or intersect In a relational database, to match two files and produce a third file with records that are common in both. For example, intersecting an American file and a programmer file would yield American programmers.  with, those areas more commonly studied by labor historians: working-class organizations, unions, and strikes. I focus on the first labor union labor union: see union, labor.  formed by the UFCO's Jamaican workers, and a three-week strike it led in late 1910, as a window into the lives and culture of the workers.

Between 1900 and 1913 some 20,000 Jamaicans migrated to Costa Rica, attracted by the newly-established United Fruit Company banana plantations. The earliest migrants were single men who lived in Company barracks bar·rack 1  
tr.v. bar·racked, bar·rack·ing, bar·racks
To house (soldiers, for example) in quarters.

1. A building or group of buildings used to house military personnel.
, but soon families followed and a thriving Jamaican community developed in the Limon area.(5) Through the late 1920s the UFCO UFCO United Fruit Company  maintained a core of some 5,000 Jamaican workers, along with some 2,000 native Costa Ricans, while many others worked as tenants or contractors for the UFCO or for large Costa Rican planters Planters is an American snack food company under Kraft Foods manufacturing, best known for its nuts and the Mr. Peanut icon that symbolizes them.

Started by Italian immigrants Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1906, it was incorporated in 1908
. These migrants were part of a stream of West Indians who left in the decades after emancipation when depression in the sugar industry and unavailability of land for alternative cultivation made subsistence impossible at home.(6) As in Panama, where they went to work on the railroad and canal-building projects, many Jamaicans were mobile and in-and out-migration were high, but by the early 1900s a fairly stable community had developed as well.

The UFCO faced a myriad of difficulties in establishing a labor force to grow its bananas. Finding "free" labor to work in plantation agriculture has been notoriously difficult throughout the history of the Americas, yet the Company had to somehow recruit workers. Until the 1920s, few Costa Ricans were attracted to the coast.

The Jamaicans who came to Costa Rica were mostly second-generation ex-slaves (slavery was abolished in Jamaica in the 1830s), and came from a cultural tradition which shared both an aversion to what they considered slave-like about plantation agriculture, and a language, religion and organized social life developed to survive, mitigate or challenge these "slave-like" conditions. The solutions that the workers in Costa Rica sought to the challenges confronting them have strong parallels in the Jamaican slave tradition. Workers wanted access to land, for both subsistence and market production. They tried to maximize their independence with respect to the plantation, and they forged social ties outside of plantation domination in their families, communities, organizations, and religions, both Christian and African. In particular, Afro-Jamaican religious tradition which encompassed Protestant Non-conformism and obeah and myalism myalism
a West Indian Negro cult, probably of West African origin, that believes in the Obeah.
See also: Religion
 - two African-based religious forms which flourished among the slaves, and which was a major factor behind a number of slave and post-slavery rebellions in Jamaica - played a crucial role in labor organizing in Costa Rica. The Jamaicans in Costa Rica, as had the slaves in Jamaica, attempted in both confrontational and accommodationist ac·com·mo·da·tion·ist  
One that compromises with or adapts to the viewpoint of the opposition: a factional split between the hard-liners and the accomodationists.
 ways to develop in the shadows of the plantation a system which satisfied their material and spiritual needs.

Under ordinary conditions, slaves and workers leave few records of their own about their activities. Activities which challenge the social order are especially likely to remain invisible, because workers take pains Verb 1. take pains - try very hard to do something
be at pains

endeavor, endeavour, strive - attempt by employing effort; "we endeavor to make our customers happy"
 to conceal them from those who are maintaining the records. It is only when a challenge becomes overt, as in the case of strikes, that the record becomes fuller. Even so, hostile accounts in Company and government records make it difficult to discern what workers were really doing and thinking during a strike. Nonetheless, the written record on strikes in Limon allows us to piece together many aspects of workers' lives and culture.

Until 1910, strikes on UFCO plantations were sporadic, short-lived and generally unsuccessful. Most of them took place among workers in newly-opened land, where conditions were the most onerous, and were carried out by newly-arrived workers, who did not have the infrastructure of family or community support which older workers had developed and which could act as a cushion in hard times. Newly arrived workers could also have been given an unrealistic picture of what awaited them in Costa Rica by a labor contractor in Jamaica, as we shall see was the case in 1910. Also, new workers did not yet have an investment in their life in Costa Rica. Although the chances of a strike's success may have been slim, they probably felt that they had much less to lose than did established workers.

Several factors militated against any sort of worker organization. Migrant workers are generally reluctant to organize because of vulnerability to repression, high turnover, and a common desire to earn some money and move on, rather than struggle for improved conditions. In the absence of any sort of union, it was not surprising that the Company was able to quickly break any strikes which did occur. For example, when 7 dockworkers declared themselves on strike in 1904, the Company brought in 165 laborers from outlying plantations within a few hours to finish their task. The strikers were suspended.(7) The Company's reaction also suggests why strikes were not more frequent among its workers.

But by 1910 the Jamaican community of Limon had developed a complex social life of churches, newspapers, mutual aid societies, and lodges, all outside of Company control. These provided a strong institutional network for the Artisans and Labourers' Union, founded in January of that year with 2,000 members, in response to a supervisor beating two Jamaican workers.(8) The union members described themselves as "workers and farmers [agricultores]," and in many ways the union appears to have been more of a cross-class alliance of Jamaicans (hence its name, Artisans and Labourers' Union) than a class-based alliance of workers. No Costa Rican workers participated. Nonetheless, the union signalled a major shift in worker consciousness and in workers' ability to seriously challenge the Company's domination and to have a voice in determining their work conditions. It also threatened to undermine the Company's ability to mobilize strikebreakers.

In the early days of its existence, the Union's main function was to provide mutual aid and organize social functions, along the lines of the Jamaican churches, lodges and Friendly Societies in Costa Rica. It also ran a cooperative store or commissary COMMISSARY. An officer whose principal duties are to supply the army with provisions.
     2. The Act of April 14, 1818, s. 6, requires that the president, by and with the consent of the senate, shall appoint a commissary general with the rank, pay, and emoluments
,(9) and a bar where meetings were held. The union store is a good example of how workers sought ways to improve their situation without directly placing any demands on the Company. The Company generally paid workers with coupons which could be used only in Company commissaries. Other local stores discounted the coupons 20-25% off their marked value, the rate at which the Company would redeem them (in merchandise). If a worker wanted to be paid in cash, he would often have to wait up to two weeks after the end of the month to receive his pay; coupons could be obtained in advance. Whenever workers voiced their complaints against the Company, the coupon system ranked high on the list.(10) The union commissary may have circumvented these problems by allowing members to buy on credit, thus enabling them to wait for their pay in cash instead of accepting coupons.

The union's first actual demand to the Company occurred on July 16, 1910, when it notified the UFCO that it intended to declare August 1, Jamaican Emancipation Day Emancipation Day is celebrated in various locations in observation generally of the emancipation of slaves. Caribbean
Emancipation Day is widely observed in the British West Indies during the first week of August.
, a holiday, and refrain from working that day. Emancipation Day, a public holiday in Jamaica, held great symbolic importance - not only affirming the difference in workers' status from that of slaves, but also asserting a Jamaican identity through a celebration "A Celebration" was a non-album single released by U2 between the October and War albums in 1982. It is probably better known for its B-side, "Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl" (later shortened to "Party Girl"), which has become a fan favorite throughout the  unacknowledged by either the UFCO or Costa Rica.(11) The fact that the union's first demand concerned national identity and dignity rather than wages or working conditions is further indication of the race/ethnic rather than the class nature of the union.

The following day the Company locked out some 600 workers identified as belonging to the Union and told them that they were relieved of their positions.(12) The Company thus turned what had begun as a social and cultural celebration into an issue of labor discipline and control, which in turn suggested to the workers that their freedom still had severe limitations.

Both the Company and the workers turned immediately to the Costa Rican government for support. The workers' protest focused on pay issues, in particular, the system of hourly wages which resulted in workers never receiving the daily wage they had been guaranteed. They also protested long waits before the monthly pay check arrived, the coupon system, and the money discounted for the Company hospital. In addition, they denounced merciless supervisors who "turn the respect and obedience of the workers into a perfect slavery. They have them jailed and everything that comes into the heads of such lords [caciques], they engage in physical abuse [torturar en el trozo], abolished by law, orders which are followed by the Police Officers, because since they are subsidized sub·si·dize  
tr.v. sub·si·dized, sub·si·diz·ing, sub·si·diz·es
1. To assist or support with a subsidy.

2. To secure the assistance of by granting a subsidy.
 by the Allied Companies, they are afraid of losing this bonus [sobresueldo]."(13) The Company, for its part, complained that the union "is nothing less than a threat to the industrial interests of the country."(14) It named three of the union's leaders as "very dangerous" and asked that they be deported.(15) But the government had little institutional presence on the isolated Atlantic Coast and was slow to respond, so the Company quickly resorted to its own power.

Its next attempt to break the union consisted of sending its recruiting agent to St. Kitts Noun 1. St. Kitts - the largest of the islands comprising Saint Christopher-Nevis
Saint Kitts, St. Christopher, Saint Christopher

Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Christopher-Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Christopher-Nevis, St.
 (one of the Leeward Islands Leeward Islands (l`ərd, ly , another British West Indian colony) to import a large number of workers who could replace Jamaican union members. These 725 men arrived, on a ship licensed to carry 300, on November 16. The Company offered them 70 cents a day (Jamaicans were then receiving $1 per day), and immediately scattered them among outlying farms.

The efforts of the Jamaican unionists, combined with the unifying force of an underlying Afro-Caribbean tradition which the Jamaicans and St. Kitts men shared, however, allowed the two groups to overcome what Michael Conniff has called the "interisland in·ter·is·land  
Relating to, involving, or connecting two or more islands: interisland competition; interisland ferries. 
 jealousy" that undermined labor organizing among Panama Canal Panama Canal, waterway across the Isthmus of Panama, connecting the Atlantic (by way of the Caribbean Sea) and Pacific oceans, built by the United States (1904–14) on territory leased from the republic of Panama.  workers.(16) Instead of despising de·spise  
tr.v. de·spised, de·spis·ing, de·spis·es
1. To regard with contempt or scorn: despised all cowards and flatterers.

 the St. Kitts men as scabs, a number of union activists made it their business to contact them immediately upon their arrival and to convince them to refuse to work while Jamaican union members were locked out. The St. Kitts men found out right away that the wages they were being offered were substantially below what the Jamaicans were earning, and this became one of their principal grievances in refusing to work. In addition, they complained that the pay, food and quarters that they were provided were far below what had been promised by the recruiting agent. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 the British Consul, Jamaican "agitators . . . told the St. Kitts men that the country was unhealthy" and provoked panic among them. "The Jamaicans in Limon were caring for the St. Kitts men, some in good faith, but some also with the idea of working them up to fight the authorities," the Consul went on.(17)

The St. Kitts men fled back to the city of Limon from the farms where they had been assigned, and demanded redress from the British Vice Consul vice consul  
n. Abbr. VC
A consular officer who is subordinate to and a deputy of a consul or consul general.

 in Limon, the Costa Rican government, the Company, the Union, and prominent members of the Jamaican community. These different actors' varying reactions determined the course of the strike, and the future of the union.

Once the St. Kitts men's strike had begun, the Costa Rican government overcame any lingering hesitation it had felt about supporting the Company. By December 1 it had sent 250 soldiers and 50 extra police to Limon, and posted guards all along the railway line to ensure that no more of the laborers could reach the city. The Governor also informed the men on November 24th that "anybody who is found not working tomorrow 25th November will be locked up and punished for vagrancy vagrancy, in law, term applied to the offense of persons who are without visible means of support or domicile while able to work. State laws and municipal ordinances punishing vagrancy often also cover loitering, associating with reputed criminals, prostitution, and ."(18) The arrival of an American gunboat gunboat, small warship for use on rivers and along coasts in places inaccessible to vessels of larger displacement. In the U.S. Civil War both sides used as gunboats, on the Mississippi and other rivers, any boat that had an engine and had room to mount a gun.  in the Limon harbor backed up the notice, but this only further milled the Jamaican community around the workers and against the UFCO. The Jamaican-owned Limon Times editorialized: "We are all British Subjects . . . we all belong to a world-wide Empire, and on the strength of that assertion, all British Subjects have every right to be treated with the greatest amount of respect; and should not be so subjected to American aggression."(19)

The workers made several appeals to the British Vice Consul, C. G. McGrigor, to intervene and arrange for the men to be transported back to St. Kitts, but as the Times repeatedly pointed out: "What can one expect when he is an employee of the United Fruit Company?"(20) When this route proved fruitless, the workers went over McGrigor's head to the Consul in San Jose San Jose, city, United States
San Jose (sănəzā`, săn hōzā`), city (1990 pop. 782,248), seat of Santa Clara co., W central Calif.; founded 1777, inc. 1850.
 and then to the Minister in Panama. The Consul, aware of how discredited McGrigor had become, arrived from San Jose on November 29, and issued a public notice affirming his support for the Company.

You and all British subjects here are under the authority of the PRESIDENT OF COSTA RICA, and the Officials named by him, and I hereby order you to obey such authorities absolutely.

The laws of this Country oblige all men to work; and for those who refuse, the Vagrancy Acts are in force, and such men are liable to be arrested and taken to any part of the Country, and there forced to work.

You are hereby directed to return, as free men, to work at the farms of the United Fruit Company . . .

I advise you to work as free men, and save money, rather than to be forced to work, and have nothing.(21)

Small wonder that the workers often wondered whether the difference between slavery and "free labor the labor of freemen, as distinguished from that of slaves.

See also: Free
" was really so great after all.

The workers then circulated a petition which they sent to the Minister in Panama, protesting the attitude of the local British authorities, but there is no record of any response to this. Despite this lack of support from above, however, the St. Kitts strikers remained firm for three weeks, and generated substantial support among the Jamaican community.

The workers' apparent faith in appeal to ever-higher British authorities has several possible explanations. Scholars sometimes attribute such faith to a kind of false consciousness: the socially weak and disempowered share in a belief system which serves to maintain their low position in the existing hierarchy, thus supporting the interests of the more powerful.(22) In fact the powerful are able to maintain their position partially through their ability to impose their ideology on the rest of society. The Jamaican and St. Kitts workers, however, did not seem to suffer from this sort of false consciousness. They certainly were not disposed to accept British authorities' decisions when these contradicted what the workers believed to be just. The British Consul recognized quite well that his position would not be enough to ensure the goodwill of the workers, and felt obliged o·blige  
v. o·bliged, o·blig·ing, o·blig·es
1. To constrain by physical, legal, social, or moral means.

 to ask for police protection while he was in Limon.(23)

Another possible explanation is workers knew quite well that the British authorities had more interest in maintaining the existing order than in upholding workers' rights, but were consciously manipulating the hypocrisies in the system which claimed to protect them. The workers' challenge to British authorities to uphold their rights could have been strictly instrumental: regardless of their degree of faith in the outcome, it was worth pursuing all possible routes to their goal. More cynical workers may have also felt that a failed attempt to mobilize British authority on their behalf would convince the more credulous cred·u·lous  
1. Disposed to believe too readily; gullible.

2. Arising from or characterized by credulity. See Usage Note at credible.
 of the need for more militant action. The workers could easily have made their appeals to Consul McGrigor in this spirit.

There is reason to suspect, however, that many workers did believe that the British authorities would act in their interest, and that this belief was based on more than just "false consciousness." Abigail Bakan Abigail "Abbie" Bakan is a professor of Political Studies at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She is a founding member of the International Socialists and a member of its steering committee.  notes that belief in the British Crown as a champion of slave, worker and peasant rights was a constant in Jamaican radical ideology from the colonial period Colonial Period may generally refer to any period in a country's history when it was subject to administration by a colonial power.
  • Korea under Japanese rule
  • Colonial America
See also
  • Colonialism
 until the 1940s and terms this a "mixed" rather than a false consciousness.(24) In fact, in several key instances of rebellion in Jamaica, the Crown proved that its intervention could overturn the interests of the planter planter, farm or garden implement that places propagating material such as seeds or seedlings into the ground, usually in rows. Broadcasting, i.e., scattering seed in all directions, by hand followed by harrowing (see harrow) to cover the seed with soil was an early  class: after the 1831 "Baptist War The Baptist War also known as the Christmas Uprising and the Great Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1831-32, was a 10 day rebellion that mobilized as many as 60,000 of Jamaica's 300,000 slave population. ," when the Crown abolished slavery, and after the Morant Bay Morant Bay is a town in southeastern Jamaica. It is the capital of the parish of St. Thomas. In 1865 it was the starting point of the Morant Bay Rebellion, the only major peasant revolt (as distinguished from slave rebellions and worker uprisings), in Jamaican history.  uprising of 1865, when the new Crown Colony crown colony
A British colony in which the government in London has some control of legislation, usually administered by an appointed governor.
 government proved much more concerned with peasant interests than the planter-dominated Assembly.(25) Thus, especially in the nineteenth century, slaves and peasants often correctly perceived the Crown as antagonistic antagonistic adjective Referring to any combination of 2 or more drugs, which results in a therapeutic effect that is less than the sum of each drug's effect. Cf Additive, Synergism.  to the will of the planters. In Costa Rica, Jamaican workers had even more justification for believing that the Crown or its agents would defend its citizens against a US company or the Costa Rican government.

In fact the workers used quite different language when appealing to Costa Rican president Jimenez to intervene on their behalf: they accused the "powerful Foreign Companies [Empresas Eztranjeras (sic)]" of "stomping even on the national spirit [pisoteando hasta el espiritu nacional]."(26) This too was probably a combination of instrumentalism instrumentalism: see Dewey, John.
 or experimentalism

Philosophy advanced by John Dewey holding that what is most important in a thing or idea is its value as an instrument of action and that the truth of an idea lies
 - exhausting all possibilities - and a not-altogether-impossible hope that Jimenez would uphold his own anti-imperialist rhetoric and stand up to the Company - as indeed he did on other occasions. Thus the workers did not simply accept or mimic the dominant ideology The dominant ideology, in Marxist or marxian theory, is the set of common values and beliefs shared by most people in a given society, framing how the majority think about a range of topics, The dominant ideology is understood by Marxism to reflect, or serve, the interests of the , rather, they used the elements of that ideology which served their own interests, and challenged those in power to live up to their lofty rhetoric. And the workers proved quite adept at adjusting the language of their appeals according to the audience.

Many established members of the Jamaican community played a more supportive or at least more ambiguous role during the strike than did the British and Costa Rican authorities. The Times took up a subscription to raise funds for food and clothing for the Leeward Island laborers,(27) and it printed numerous articles in favor of the strikers. The Costa Rican authorities reacted sharply against the paper, even briefly jailing its General Manager for having criticized the police.(28)

The workers also appealed to the local Protestant ministers to support their cause, with varying degrees of success. Both the Company and the Governor accused several of the local Protestant ministers of complicity in the strike. However, the Protestant ministers actually played a decidedly ambiguous role in Costa Rica, just as they had in Jamaica. An examination of the role of Protestant Non-conformism is especially illustrative of the sometimes paradoxical interconnections among differing forms of consciousness and action. Protestantism could lead to slave and worker docility doc·ile  
1. Ready and willing to be taught; teachable.

2. Yielding to supervision, direction, or management; tractable.
 as well as resistance, and to either individual or collective solutions to the problems facing the working classes. The various Protestant sects which ministered to the slaves starting in the late eighteenth century created an enormous tension within slave society because of their dual message, which acknowledged the slaves' humanity and promised a better world in the hereafter In the future.

The term hereafter is always used to indicate a future time—to the exclusion of both the past and present—in legal documents, statutes, and other similar papers.
, at the same time as they preached obedience in this world. During times of protest and rebellion, both slaves and planters often believed that Non-conformist missionaries supported the slaves, even while their actions placed them firmly on the side of law and order.(29) In the early nineteenth century this tension was resolved in favor of slave resistance to a certain extent with the growth of Black Baptism, a syncretic syn·cre·tism  
1. Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous.

 form which incorporated African forms of worship - drumming, dancing and spirit possession - and, equally important, translated the missionaries' other-worldly message emphatically into the terms of this world. Black Baptists played leading roles in the slave rebellion A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slave owners.  of 1831-32 and the Morant Bay rebellion The Morant Bay rebellion began on October 11, 1865, when Paul Bogle led 200 to 300 black men and women into the town of Morant Bay, parish of St. Thomas in the East, Jamaica.  of 1865.(30)

Like earlier plantation owners, the UFCO quickly realized the advantages that organized religion could bring to production, and built company churches and hired ministers to serve their workers. In 1906 one newspaper article commented that the

general conduct and character of the Jamaican laborers . . . shows how much the companies and private capitalists . . . owe to the . . . missionaries. . . . Without the Gospel following up those people the American racial idea would have created an insuperable barrier to any satisfactory adjustment in this country between the white man as capitalist and the black man as laborer. This, the preaching of the Gospel, has happily obviated and adjusted.(31)

But by providing an institutional basis for maintaining Jamaican cultural ties and habits and an affirmation of the rights and humanity Rights and Humanity is a multi-faith, multi-cultural international movement linking people from many faiths and walks of life and of various political opinions. It promotes respect for human rights as a foundation for global economic and social justice and human development.  of workers, the various churches in Limon also formed the basis for the alternative society that the Jamaicans maintained in the shadow of the plantations. As in Jamaica, the plantation workers could sometimes interpret in subversive ways the message of the ministers and missionaries who preached resignation and obedience.(32)

Four local ministers - at least two of them black - played visible roles during the strike. Reverends Glasspole (or Grasspole) and E. A. Pitt, both black Jamaicans, initially provided at least moral support for the strikers,(33) but when the British Consul from San Jose insisted that the St. Kitts men end their strike Pitt appeared with him and reiterated the "necessity of going to work at once."(34) A UFCO-employed minister, Reverend John Henderson

Main article: Henderson (surname)

The name John Henderson may refer to:
  • John Henderson (AFL football)
  • John Henderson (clergyman), early settler in Yalobusha County, Mississippi
, was "politely asked to resign on some pretext PRETEXT. The reasons assigned to justify an act, which have only the appearance of truth, and which are without foundation; or which if true are not the true reasons for such act. Vattel, liv. 3, c. 3, 32.  or other" after the strike because of his supposed support for the strikers.(35) Another minister, Reverend R. Waite-Smith, published several articles in the Times supporting the strikers and the union and attacking the Company with strong language. Waite-Smith escaped arrest only by seeking sanctuary in the church.(36) According to the Governor of Limon, the British Consul shared his view that "those responsible for this [rebellious] attitude [among the strikers] are Reverend Waite-Smith and the other protestant ministers."(37) Thus as in nineteenth century Jamaica, Protestant ministers did, to a certain extent, support the aspirations of the plantation workers. But their support, while important, was not enough to swing the balance in favor of the workers.

The union itself was divided on the issue of supporting the St. Kitts men when they went on strike. Many union members clearly realized that creating ties of solidarity with the St. Kitts workers was a more constructive approach than simply rejecting them as scabs, and the militancy of the St. Kitts men themselves certainly contributed to making this approach a success. However, a number of union members, and in particular some of the leadership, were not pleased with the militant turn events had taken. Up until recently the union had served more as a sort of social club for Jamaicans; now it was suddenly involved in a bitter labor dispute, supporting strikers who were not even Jamaican.

Two of the leaders of the union abandoned it two weeks after the strike began. The President appears to have fled the country, carrying most of the union's funds with him. As the official leadership collapsed, however, some of the more militant members of the rank and file rose to take their places and, along with many of the St. Kitts workers, kept the strike alive.

Those who came to the fore during the 1910 strike - who replaced the union's official leaders, created ties of solidarity between the Jamaican and the St. Kitts workers, and through their words and actions, turned the strike into a strong and militant movement - were a curious combination of people. In addition to the black ministers, two were known as obeah-men. Charles Ferguson, the Jamaican who appears to have been the real ringleader ring·lead·er  
A person who leads others, especially in illicit or informal activities.


a person who leads others in illegal or mischievous actions

Noun 1.
 of the strike, was known for his close relations with those who kept alive an African-based tradition of healing and supernatural power, in particular, obeah. And his ties to an obeah-man from St. Kitts seem to have been crucial in allowing the two groups to unite. A closer look at some of these individuals reveals some of the links between alternative, Afro-Caribbean based cultural forms and political organizing.

Much more than the ministers or the British officials, Ferguson took the real leadership role in encouraging the St. Kitts men to strike, rallying the Jamaican community around them and resurrecting the union after its leadership fell apart. Ferguson was not a Company employee, but he was certainly an active member of the Jamaican community. He worked at various odd jobs odd jobs nplchapuzas fpl

odd jobs nplpetits travaux divers

odd jobs odd npl
 in Limon, bookkeeping bookkeeping, maintenance of systematic and convenient records of money transactions in order to show the condition of a business enterprise. The essential purpose of bookkeeping is to reveal the amounts and sources of the losses and profits for any given period.  and translating, and also owned several properties, including a small business in Bocas del Toro Toro may refer to:
  • Denominación de Origen Toro, the Spanish wine region
  • Toró, the nickname of Rafael Ferreira Francisco, Brazilian football (soccer) player
 (Panama).(38) There was wide-spread agreement about Ferguson's role in promoting the strike, and he was put on the new Executive Board of the Union that was formed on December 5. Workers called Ferguson the "alma mater ma·ter  
n. Chiefly British

[Latin mter; see m
 of the strike," because "he didn't rest, he was always going from group to group perorating, in one, collecting signatures in another. . . ."(39) Ferguson earned the nickname "Consul" by trying to fulfill the role that workers believed the Consul should have carried out. One worker explained that "due to his harangues of oratory oratory, the art of swaying an audience by eloquent speech. In ancient Greece and Rome oratory was included under the term rhetoric, which meant the art of composing as well as delivering a speech.  among the blacks he acquired the nickname of 'Consul' ... he used very harsh words against the English Consul and went around collecting signatures to present petitions to the English Minister in Panama, with the goal that the British Government come to intervene in this affair on the side of the St. Kitts Blacks."(40) The Company demanded that the government take action against him, in addition to the union officials and Joseph Nathan, the St. Kitts leader.

But it took months for Ferguson's case to be prosecuted, and the investigation that the government launched against him unveiled some of the links among the political, cultural and religious identifications of the Jamaican community. For what made Ferguson seem so threatening to the Company - and what made him such an effective leader to the workers - was not just the fact that he circulated a petition to the Minister in Panama. Ferguson was deeply enmeshed en·mesh   also im·mesh
tr.v. en·meshed, en·mesh·ing, en·mesh·es
To entangle, involve, or catch in or as if in a mesh. See Synonyms at catch.
 in a network made up of obeah-men and others with access to the supernatural, as well as labor organizers, who used their power to challenge the existing order on many levels. One UFCO foreman warned ominously that Ferguson was a "dangerous element" because of his "influence among a certain class of people."(41) The Costa Rican government, the British consular officials, and the UFCO all accused Ferguson, in addition to his role in the strike, of associating with other subversive Jamaicans: J. Washington Sterling, an obeah-man who was practicing medicine illegally in Limon, and Francis (nobody ever discovered his last name), whom the investigators referred to as a sorcerer (tool) SORCERER - A simple tree parser generator by Terence Parr <>.

SORCERER is suitable for translation problems lying between those solved by code generator generators and by full source-to-source translator generators.
 [brujo]. The UFCO administration accused Ferguson and Sterling together and the Costa Rican authorities investigated and tried them together and finally expelled them from the country together.(42)

The government's investigation found many who were willing to testify against Ferguson - mostly Costa Rican officials, British officials, and UFCO management-level employees, though some Jamaicans cooperated as well. While Ferguson was accused primarily for his role as a labor organizer, his associate J. Washington Sterling's crimes were of a medical - and supernatural - nature. Sterling challenged the hegemony of the government and fruit company doctors by practicing medicine without a license. He also apparently tried to establish a pharmacy along with Charles Bryan, former Secretary of the Union, another connection between his world and that of the labor organizers. Ferguson's role, as Sterling's associate, was to recruit patients for him.(43) But Sterling was no ordinary doctor: he was an obeah-man who relied on supernatural as well as physical means for his cures, and whose powers extended beyond healing.

Obeah and myalism were the two African-based belief systems predominating in Jamaica in the eighteenth century. Both were clandestine CLANDESTINE. That which is done in secret and contrary to law.
     2.Generally a clandestine act in case of the limitation of actions will prevent the act from running.
, but myalism was a group worship, while obeah was usually a power invested in an individual obeah-man. Monica Schuler called myalism "a powerful catalyst for African and Afro-Jamaican resistance to European values and control."(44) The Jamaican Black Baptist movement, which as we have seen was a driving force behind the 1831 slave rebellion in Jamaica, was closely associated with myalism.(45) And myalism and Black Baptism have remained linked. A myalist revival in the 1840s followed the same geographical limits of Black Baptist Moses Baker's following,(46) and the 1860s revivalist movement which preceded the Morant Bay uprising of 1865 "partook par·took  
Past tense of partake.


the past tense of partake
 of the Myal tradition," and so "could also be revolutionary."(47) A wave of pocomania revivalism revivalism

Reawakening of Christian values and commitment. The spiritual fervour of revival-style preaching, typically performed by itinerant, charismatic preachers before large gatherings, is thought to have a restorative effect on those who have been led away from the
, a nineteenth century African import, like myalism based on dance, drumming, singing and spirit possession, was closely associated geographically with the areas of rebellion in 1938 in Jamaica, carrying on the link of religious revivalism and rebellion.(48) Although there is no evidence of Black Baptist activity in Limon, myalism clearly had a thriving presence there in the period during and especially after the strike.

Obeah too was politically subversive from its first appearance. It was outlawed in Jamaica as early as 1760 for inspiring a slave rebellion in that year.(49) Orlando Patterson Orlando Patterson is a preeminent Jamaican sociologist at Harvard University who is recognized for his many scholarly contributions to his study on ethnicity primarily of those people of African descent and is one of the most cited modern writers in his field.  writes that

obeah functioned largely in the numerous rebellions of the slaves .... In the plotting of these rebellions the obeah-man was essential in administering oaths of secrecy, and, in cases, distributing fetishes which were supposed to immunize im·mu·nize
1. To render immune.

2. To produce immunity in, as by inoculation.

 the insurgents Insurgents, in U.S. history, the Republican Senators and Representatives who in 1909–10 rose against the Republican standpatters controlling Congress, to oppose the Payne-Aldrich tariff and the dictatorial power of House speaker Joseph G. Cannon.  from the arms of the whites.(50)

Also notable in the contemporary descriptions of both myalism and obeah is the medical importance that they held. Myal doctors often worked in plantation hospitals,(51) myal leaders were referred to as "Doctor", for they were trained in medicinal herbs in Africa and "served important medicinal functions."(52) The obeah-man was "doctor, philosopher, and priest,"(53) and "sometimes exercised considerable power over a slave community in opposition to that of white medical practice."(54)

Everybody interviewed from the UFCO Administrator to the British Consul E Nutter Cox to the workers - concurred in identifying Sterling as an obeah-man.(55) And it seems to have been Sterling and Ferguson's ties to obeah which allowed them to link up immediately with one of the St. Kitts men, Joseph Nathan, who was both a leader of the strike and, according to the UFCO, an obeah-man. In soliciting Nathan's expulsion from Costa Rica during the heat of the strike, the UFCO Administrator used language strikingly similar to that which the foreman had used against Ferguson when he wrote that Nathan was "what the Jamaicans and Blacks of the 'Leeward Islands' call an 'Obeah man', and he has absolute influence over the others."(56) And it seems to have been Nathan's deportation deportation, expulsion of an alien from a country by an act of its government. The term is not applied ordinarily to sending a national into exile or to committing one convicted of crime to an overseas penal colony (historically called transportation). , on December 7, that signalled the end of the strike.(57) Thus the two main leaders of the strike, one from Jamaica and one from St. Kitts, both had close ties to obeah. This could well have accounted for their ability to rally the workers around them, overcoming inter-island differences. This was probably how they managed to convince the St. Kitts workers to support, rather than undermine, the Jamaicans' union, and the Jamaicans to organize, rather than to despise de·spise  
tr.v. de·spised, de·spis·ing, de·spis·es
1. To regard with contempt or scorn: despised all cowards and flatterers.

, the St. Kitts workers.

In addition to the combination of fear and respect with which West Indians viewed obeah-men, they may well have had dimly-held notions or even very specific recollections, from stories passed down through the generations, of the supernatural ability of obeah-men to successfully challenge or even overturn the social order. In addition, the Afro-Jamaicans' shared yet clandestine adherence to a system of belief and collective ritual could provide, even more than the collective but open organizations like lodges and friendly societies, the foundation for organized resistance to those in power. The cultural tradition embodied in the two obeah-men was probably a major factor contributing to the strength of the movement.

The Protestant ministers and British consular officials were intermediate figures: outside of the workers' community, yet riot obviously allied with the Company either. The workers clearly felt that Crown representatives should support their struggle, and felt betrayed when they did not, as in the case of Vice-Consul McGrigor. This betrayal, while probably contributing to the eventual dissolution of the strike and the union, also helped to strengthen the African element. For men like Sterling, Ferguson and Nathan, who represented the African more than the British component of Afro-Caribbean culture, stood unequivocally on the side of the workers. Yet it is interesting that even Ferguson, with his close ties to obeah and the African tradition, emphasized appeals to Great Britain Great Britain, officially United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 60,441,000), 94,226 sq mi (244,044 sq km), on the British Isles, off W Europe. The country is often referred to simply as Britain. , rather than obeah, in his attempts to further the strike. Or it may be that Ferguson did invoke obeah, but in ways which eluded those who maintained the written record.(58)

By attributing such a crucial role to individuals with supernatural powers, the obeah tradition may have actually contributed to weakening the collective organization of the workers in the long run. This may be one reason why the strike eventually collapsed and why the workers were never able to successfully resurrect the union. If the power and unity of purpose of the group resides in one or two individuals, this disempowers the other members even while perhaps galvanizing galvanizing, process of coating a metal, usually iron or steel, with a protective covering of zinc. Galvanized iron is prepared either by dipping iron, from which rust has been removed by the action of sulfuric acid, into molten zinc so that a thin layer of the zinc  the group with respect to its adversary, in this case the UFCO. The fact that Nathan's expulsion coincided with the breakdown in resolve among the St. Kitts workers lends support to this view.

The multifaceted mul·ti·fac·et·ed  
Having many facets or aspects. See Synonyms at versatile.

Adj. 1. multifaceted - having many aspects; "a many-sided subject"; "a multifaceted undertaking"; "multifarious interests"; "the multifarious
 role that religion could play in the community is further revealed by the wave of religious revivalism - public, mass religious meetings and healings, with the dancing, drumming and spirit possession characteristic of myalism, Black Baptism, and pocomania - which followed the demise of the union. As in Jamaica, religious revivalism in Limon seems to have had a continuous, if underground, existence. But the outburst in 1911-1912 stands out in size, variety and longevity. In June of 1911 the Times complained that followers followers

see dairy herd.
 of Sterling were engaging in "vile practices [revival meetings] which have stirred the town during the past month the like of which has never been known in the previous history of Port Limon."(59) What made Sterling's followers leave the privacy of their homes and bring their religion in to the streets and yards, to the horror of Limon's Jamaican middle class?

In Jamaica, scholars have found that outbursts of religious revivalism have preceded periods of social protest.(60) In Limon, there is little evidence of religious revivalism prior to the 1910 strike. Rather than an impetus to rebellion, religious revival Religious revival may refer to
  • Christian Revivalism;
  • Revival meeting;
  • Islamic revival.
 in Limon seems to have been a reaction to the failure of a political movement.(61) It may also have been a reaction to the failure of the Nonconformists nonconformists, in religion, those who refuse to conform to the requirements (in doctrine or discipline) of an established church. The term is applied especially to Protestant dissenters from the Church of England.  to fulfill the leadership roles the workers wanted them to. The two ministers who remained supportive of the workers - Reverend Henderson and Reverend Waite-Smith - both left Limon voluntarily shortly after the strike ended.(62) Ferguson and Sterling, in contrast, remained in the country until they were deported later in 1911, after pursuing every possible delaying tactic. Not only that, they both remained active in challenging the UFCO. Ferguson helped to organize another strike in April.(63) Both men were accused of aiding two of their friends who burglarized the Company railroad offices; Sterling allegedly used obeah to help the accused escape from prison afterwards.(64)

Thus the behavior of the various community leaders after as well as during the strike contributed to, or continued, workers' adherence to African rather than British traditions. At the same time, the lack of any outside or institutional system of support for organization based on this Afro-Caribbean tradition made it extremely vulnerable. Yet even with the union and the strike crushed, the community remained imbedded imbedded,
adj See embedded.
 in the Afro-Caribbean religious tradition. Revivalism, however, though abhorrent ab·hor·rent  
1. Disgusting, loathsome, or repellent.

2. Feeling repugnance or loathing.

3. Archaic Being strongly opposed.
 to the Jamaican middle class, proved to be little threat to the UFCO or the Costa Rican authorities. In fact, by dividing the Jamaicans along class lines, it may have served the purposes of those who were threatened by the union.

The social institutions like schools, churches and clubs, which the Company fostered in its paternalism paternalism (p·terˑ·n , interacted with other types of organization which were fully independent of Company control, like Lodges, newspapers, and friendly and mutual aid societies. These latter provided the basis for organized resistance. People on both sides of the strike, and divided over the legitimacy of Sterling and Ferguson's activities, were active members of Limon's various churches and lodges.(65) Interestingly, the coexistence of Protestantism, obeah and Masonry seemed to pose no conflicts to the workers. Their testimony during the government's investigation of Sterling and Ferguson makes it abundantly clear that most of them were members of lodges and churches as well as believers in obeah.

Evidence from one of the few novels written by a Jamaican Costa Rican confirms this. The protagonist, a second generation Jamaican immigrant and a Protestant minister, married an obeah-man's daughter and felt no hesitation about consulting an obeah-man himself. His own father's advice, given on his deathbed, was that he should use the sign of his Lodge if he was ever in danger.(66) Part of the rite that his father-in-law (the obeah-man) instructed him to follow to undo an evil spell that a neighbor had cast on his fields was to repeat "The Lord is great and strong" seven times every day.(67) Thus the three traditions - Masonry, Protestantism and obeah - could easily coexist. What did appear to be in "total conflict" with the world of these three traditions was Western medicine, science, and what one learned in school.(68)

The events of 1910, important in their own right, also serve as a window into cultural traditions which are ordinarily invisible to the historian. The Artisans and Labourers' Union was one source of strength for the workers in 1910, but this strength was nourished nour·ish  
tr.v. nour·ished, nour·ish·ing, nour·ish·es
1. To provide with food or other substances necessary for life and growth; feed.

 by individuals like Charles Ferguson and Joseph Nathan who embodied the values and traditions of the community which had survived from their African past, molded by the experiences of plantation slavery. While the organized mutualism Mutualism

An interaction between two species that benefits both. Individualsthat interact with mutualists experience higher sucess than those that do not.
 and unionism of the Jamaican workers have resembled the experience of European and U.S. workers in the early period of industrialization industrialization

Process of converting to a socioeconomic order in which industry is dominant. The changes that took place in Britain during the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and 19th century led the way for the early industrializing nations of western Europe and
, the role of obeah-men in mobilizing the workers has its parallels in the slave rebellions of the Caribbean. The Company discovered the Christian religion, mutualism and even unionization to be acceptable (and occasionally even advantageous),(69) but it certainly never fomented the underground traditions of African belief systems, and when they became visible, both Costa Rican and British authorities and the Company always attacked them.

Even the Jamaican community, despite its impressive solidarity behind the union and the St. Kitts workers, was divided when it came to obeah and myalism. The Jamaican-owned Limon Times, which had so vigorously denounced the Company and the British authorities during the strike, had nothing but scorn for the "crowds of the unwashed" attending myalist ceremonies and the "obnoxious vermins as these obeahmen."(70) Thus, strikingly, Afro-Caribbean cultural identity proved to be both the cement that held a multi-class Jamaican community together around the striking workers and, in the end, the issue which divided the community, apparently along class lines. For while Jamaican ministers and newspaper editors could support the workers in their struggle to maintain their cultural identity, their dignity, their rights as workers with respect to the Company, and their union, these respectable Jamaicans could not condone condone v. 1) to forgive, support, and/or overlook moral or legal failures of another without protest, with the result that it appears that such breaches of moral or legal duties are acceptable.  those aspects of Afro-Jamaican identity which proved most potentially subversive to the social order: obeah and myalism. These belief systems, perhaps because of their very clandestine quality, were able to nourish nour·ish
To provide with food or other substances necessary for sustaining life and growth.
 the strike when the workers were under attack from all sides.

In the best of times, UFCO workers' affirmation of Afro-Jamaican cultural identity constituted a form of everyday resistance to Company domination. The confrontation in 1910 grew directly out of the workers' attempts to celebrate this cultural identity. But as the confrontation escalated, fault lines became apparent in the apparently unified community. When everyday resistance grew into a movement which challenged the Company's right to complete control of the conditions of work, representatives of the established, public institutions of Jamaican cultural life abandoned the workers' cause rather than risk losing their respectability, and workers' resistance was driven underground. The underground aspects of Jamaican cultural identity - obeah and myalism - proved to be the only sources capable of sustaining support for open challenge to the social order.

History Department Lewiston, ME 04240


I wish to thank Cindy Forster and David McCreery David McCreery (b. September 16 1957, Belfast, Northern Ireland) was a Northern Ireland football player. He played mostly in midfield but was very versatile, and during his career played in every position bar goalkeeper.  for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

1. See the Introduction to Lowell Gudmundson's Costa Rica Before Coffee (Baton Rouge Baton Rouge (băt`ən rzh) [Fr.,=red stick], city (1990 pop. 219,531), state capital and seat of East Baton Rouge parish, SE La. , 1986) for a discussion of the "white legend" in Costa Rican historiography historiography

Writing of history, especially that based on the critical examination of sources and the synthesis of chosen particulars from those sources into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods.
. Social histories which discuss labor struggles in Costa Rica include Marielos Aguilar, Carlos Luis Fallas Carlos Luis Fallas Sibaja (January 21, 1909 – May 7, 1966), also known by the byname Calufa, was a Costa Rican author and political activist.

After working as a young man in the banana plantations of the United Fruit Company in the Costa Rican Atlantic coast,
: su epoca y sus luchas, (San Jose, 1983), Victor Hugo Acuna, La huelga bananera de 1934 (San Jose, 1978) and Los origenes de la clase obrera en Costa Rica: las huelgas Las Huelgas is a monastery that lies approximately 1.5 km west of the city of Burgos in Spain. Historically, it has often been the site of many weddings of royal families, both foreign and Spanish, including that of Edward I of England to Eleanor of Castile, for example.  de 1920 por la jornada La Jornada is one of Mexico City's leading daily newspapers. It was established in 1984 by Carlos Payán Velver. The current editor (directora general) is Carmen Lira Saade.  de ocho horas (San Jose, 1986), Daniel Camacho et al., Desarrollo del movimiento sindical en Costa Rica (San Jose, 1985), Vladimir de la Cruz de la Cruz is a common surname in the Spanish language meaning 'of The Cross.'
  • Carlos de la Cruz
  • José de la Cruz
  • Juana de la Cruz
  • Oswaldo de la Cruz
  • Ramón de la Cruz
  • Tommy de la Cruz
  • Ulises de la Cruz
  • Matthew de la Cruz
  • Cross de la Cruz
, Las luchas sociales en Costa Rica (San Jose, 1984), and Los martires de Chicago y el 1 de mayo de 1913 (San Jose, 1985), Arnoldo Ferreto, La huelga bananera 1934 (San Jose, 1987), Mario Oliva Medina, Artesanos y obreros costarricenses (San Jose, 1985), and Carlos Luis Fallas Monge, El movimiento obrero en Costa Rica, 1830-1902 (San Jose, 1983). Studies of Costa Rica's Atlantic coast, or of the West Indian community, inevitably touch on social or labor struggles, without necessarily exploring them in depth. See Roy Simon Bryce-Laporte, "Family, Household and Intergenerational in·ter·gen·er·a·tion·al  
Being or occurring between generations: "These social-insurance programs are intergenerational and all
 Relations in a 'Jamaican' Village in Limon, Costa Rica," in Stanford N. Gerber, ed., The Family in the Caribbean (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (pwār`tō rē`kō), island (2005 est. pop. 3,917,000), 3,508 sq mi (9,086 sq km), West Indies, c.1,000 mi (1,610 km) SE of Miami, Fla. , 1973 ), Jeffrey Casey Gaspar, Limon, 1880-1940 (San Jose, 1979), Ronald N. Harpelle, "West Indians in Costa Rica: Racism, Class and Ethnicity in the Transformation of a Community" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto Research at the University of Toronto has been responsible for the world's first electronic heart pacemaker, artificial larynx, single-lung transplant, nerve transplant, artificial pancreas, chemical laser, G-suit, the first practical electron microscope, the first cloning of T-cells, , 1992), Charles Koch, "Jamaican Blacks and their Descendants DESCENDANTS. Those who have issued from an individual, and include his children, grandchildren, and their children to the remotest degree. Ambl. 327 2 Bro. C. C. 30; Id. 230 3 Bro. C. C. 367; 1 Rop. Leg. 115; 2 Bouv. n. 1956.
 in Costa Rica," Social and Economic Studies 26:3 (September 1977): 339-61, Carlos Melendez and Quince Duncan Quince Duncan was born in 1940 in San José, Costa Rica. He is regarded as Costa Rica's first Afro-caribbean writer in the Spanish language. His works typically concern the Afro-caribbean population living on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, particularly around the city of Puerto Limón. , El negro en Costa Rica (San Jose, 1981), Paula Palmer, "What Happen": A Folk History of Costa Rica's Talamanca Coast (San Jose, 1977), Trevor Purcell, Banana Fallout: Class, Color, and Culture among West Indians in Costa Rica (Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. , 1993). Two recent articles have documented the events of the 1910 strike: Elisavinda Echeverri-Gent's "Forgotten Workers: British West Indians and the Early Days of the Banana Industry in Costa Rica and Honduras," Journal of Latin American Studies The Journal of Latin American Studies (JLAS) is an interdisciplinary journal focusing on Latin America. Since 1969, it has been published quarterly, in February, May, August and November, by Cambridge University Press.  24 (May 1992), 275-308 and Carlos Hernandez, "Los inmigrantes de Saint Kitts Noun 1. Saint Kitts - the largest of the islands comprising Saint Christopher-Nevis
St. Kitts, Saint Christopher, St. Christopher

Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Christopher-Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Christopher-Nevis, St.
: 1910, un capitulo en la historia de los conflictos bananeros costarricenses," Revista de Historia 23 (1991), 191-240. Even those authors who have written about actual strikes, however, have failed to discern the rich organizational life of the West Indian workers, and the way in which social and cultural organizations provided the basis for labor activity firmly rooted in Afro-Caribbean culture. Gudmundson has characterized Costa Rican labor history Labor history may refer to:
  • Labor Unions in the United States, including history
  • The academic discipline of Labor History
  • Australian labour movement, including history
  • Labor History (journal)
 as "pre-Thompsonian" because of its focus on leadership, politics and institutions rather than on working class lives and culture (Elizabeth Fonseca C. and Mario Samper K., "Entrevista a Lowell Gudmundson," Revista de Historia 16 [1988], 28).

2. For all its notoriety, the United Fruit Company has inspired remarkably little serious literature. What studies do exist tend to be either official company histories, or critiques of the Company's political intervention in the countries in which it operated. Company histories include Frederick Upham Adams Frederick Upham Adams, (December 10, 1859-August 28, 1921) was a noted inventor and author. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to an American Civil War veteran/mechanical engineer, and died on August 28, 1921 at Larchmont, New York. , Conquest of the Tropics: The Story of the Creative Enterprises Conducted by the United Fruit Company (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
, 1914); B.C. Forbes, Men Who are Making America (New York, 1917); Samuel Crowther, The Romance and Rise of the American Tropics (New York, 1929); Charles Morrow Wilson, Empire in Green and Gold: The Story of the American Banana Trade (New York, 1947); and Stacy May and Galo Plaza Galo Plaza Lasso (1906 – 1987) was president of Ecuador from September 1, 1948 to August 31, 1952, and secretary general of the Organization of American States (O.A.S.) from 1968 to 1975. , The United Fruit Company in Latin America (New York, 1958). Notable among political critiques are Richard J. Barnet Barnet (bär`nət), outer borough (1991 pop. 283,000) of Greater London, SE England. Although mainly residential, manufactures there include automobile and aircraft parts, electrical components, and beverages.  and Ronald E. Muller, Global Reach: The Power of the Multinational Corporations

Main article: multinational corporations

  • ABB
  • ABN-Amro
  • Accenture
  • Aditya Birla
  • Affiliated Computer Services Inc
  • Airbus
  • Allianz
  • Altria Group
  • American Express
  • Akzo Nobel
  • Apple Inc.
 (New York, 1974); Paul Dosal, Doing Business with the Dictators: A Political History of United Fruit in Guatemala, 1899-1940 (Wilmington, DE, 1993); Charles Kepner and Jay Soothill, The Banana Empire: A Case Study in Economic Imperialism Economic imperialism is the term used to describe the application of economics to the so called non-economic aspects of life such as crime, marriage and war.[1][2] See also
  • Gary Becker
  • Mainstream economics

 (New York, 1935); Vilma Lafnez and Victor Meza, "El enclave bananero en la historia de Honduras," Estudios Sociales Centroamericanos 2:5 (May-August 1973), 115-56; Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer Stephen Kinzer is an American author and newspaper reporter. He is a veteran New York Times correspondent who has reported from more than fifty countries on four continents. During the 1980s he covered revolution and social upheaval in Central America. , Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (New York, 1982). Only a very few have begun to apply the approaches of social history, which have inspired such a wealth of literature on other plantation societies, to Central America's banana plantations. See Catherine LeGrand, "Colombian Transformations: Peasants and Wage Laborers in the Santa Marta Santa Marta (sän`tä mär`tä), city (1993 pop. 270,253), capital of Magdalena dept., N Colombia, a port on the Caribbean Sea.  Banana Zone," Journal of Peasant Studies 11:4 (July 1984), 178-200; Philippe Bourgois Philippe Bourgois (b. 1956) is a Richard Perry University Professor of Anthropology & Family and Community Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He has conducted research in Central America on ethnicity and social unrest and is the author of , Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation (Baltimore, 1989).

3. See my "West Indian Workers in Costa Rican Racial and Nationalist Ideology, 1900-1950," The Americas: A Quarterly Journal of Inter-American Cultural History, 51:1 (July 1994), 11-40 for further discussion of this. An important exception in the 1930s was Communist labor organizer Carlos Luis Fallas, author of the classic Mamita Yunai (San Jose, 1986).

4. Abigail Bakan argues that Jamaican slave and worker resistance is based on a common ideology of faith in the Crown and the use of religious idiom, organizations and authorities. But she does not explore the African belief systems which I believe were just as important, if not more so, in sustaining the workers' culture of resistance in Costa Rica. See Bakan, Ideology and Class Conflict in Jamaica: The Politics of Rebellion (Montreal, 1990), 11-16 and passim PASSIM - A simulation language based on Pascal.

["PASSIM: A Discrete-Event Simulation Package for Pascal", D.H Uyeno et al, Simulation 35(6):183-190 (Dec 1980)].

5. The Company reported in 1912 that its hospital in Limon served 4,200 black employees and 2,000 of their dependents. In Guatemala during the same year, it noted that 35% of its laborers had wives, and 20% had children, implying that the work force was overwhelmingly male. See United Fruit Company Medical Department, Annual Report (1912), 27, 36.

6. See Bonham Bonham can refer to:
  • Bonhams, a British auction house
  • Dr. Bonham's Case, a legal case decided in 1610 concerning the supremacy of the common law in England
  • Bonham, Texas, USA
  • Bonham (band), heavy metal band formed by Jason Bonham
 Richardson, Caribbean Migrants (Knoxville, 1983) and Panama Money in Barbados (Knoxville, 1985) for discussion of this phenomenon in St. Kitts and Nevis Noun 1. St. Kitts and Nevis - a country on several of the Leeward Islands; located to the east southeast of Puerto Rico; achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1983
Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Christopher-Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St.
 and Barbados. For the West lndies generally, see Elizabeth Thomas-Hope, "The Establishment of a Migration Tradition: British West Indian Movements to the Hispanic Caribbean in the Century after Emancipation," in Colin G. Clarke, ed., Caribbean Social Relations (Liverpool, 1978).

7. Limon Weekly News 194, June 11, 1904.

8. According to a report in the Heraldo del Atlantico 4:153, March 10, 1913. The relationship between fraternal fraternal /fra·ter·nal/ (frah-ter´n'l)
1. of or pertaining to brothers.

2. of twins; derived from two oocytes.

1. Of or relating to brothers.
 societies and unionization has been traced in Europe as well. See, for example, William Sewell
For the US Senator, see William Joyce Sewell. For the sociologist and university president, see William H. Sewell.

William Sewell (January 23, 1804 - November 14, 1874), English divine and author, was born at Newport, Isle of Wight, the son of a
, Work and Revolution in France: The Language of Labor from the Old Regime to 1848 (Cambridge, 1980). The corporate trade associations he discusses, out of which trade unions grew, were also mutual aid and social organizations. His discussion of compagnonnage (47-55) especially emphasizes the ritualistic rit·u·al·is·tic  
1. Relating to ritual or ritualism.

2. Advocating or practicing ritual.

 and mutual aid functions of such societies. E. P. Thompson has called lodges and friendly societies "the subculture subculture /sub·cul·ture/ (sub´kul-chur) a culture of bacteria derived from another culture.

 out of which the less stable trade unions grew, and in which trade union officers were trained" (The Making of the English Working Class [New York, 1963], 421).

9. The commissary is mentioned in "Narrative Report of the Disturbances in Limon, Costa Rica among the Labourers imported from the Leeward Islands," Enclosure No. 1 in Mr. Consul Cox's Despatch Commercial No. 12 of the 8th of December 1910, British Foreign Office (hereafter FO) 288/125:279.

10. See the petition signed by 63 non-UFCO merchants and testimony given by numerous workers to a government investigative commission in 1912, all collected in Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica (hereafter ANCR ANCR Archivio Nazionale Cinematografico della Resistenza
ANCR Announcer
ANCR Associação Nacional do Cavalo de Rédeas (Brazil)
ANCR Association of Nordic Cancer Registries
ANCR Ancor Communications, Inc.
) Serie Congreso 9875. Workers voiced an almost identical protest 25 years later (Costa Rica Ministerio de Gobernacion Memoria [1937-38], 25).

11. Emancipation Day was a holiday of equal importance to Christmas and New Years in early 20th century Jamaica. See Olive Lewin Dr. Olive Lewin (1937- ) is a Jamaican author, social anthropologist, musicologist, and teacher. Dr.Lewin is probably best known for her recorded anthologies of old Jamaica folk songs, researched and collected over her lifetime. , "Emancipation Songs and Festivities fes·tiv·i·ty  
n. pl. fes·tiv·i·ties
1. A joyous feast, holiday, or celebration; a festival.

2. The pleasure, joy, and gaiety of a festival or celebration.

," Jamaica Journal Jamaica Journal is a periodical published by the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) in Kingston, Jamaica. It publishes scholarly articles on the history, natural history, art, literature, music, and culture of Jamaica.  17:3 (1984), 18-23 for a description of the holiday's celebration.

12. "Nosotros los delegados nombrados por los Trabajadores y Obreros de Limon, a Vos. con reverencia decimos," petition to Costa Rican President Jimenez from 600 Limon workers, August 8, 1910, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 3134 fol. 1.

13. Ibid., fol. 4.

14. UFCO Administrator to Secretario de Estado en el Despacho de Gobernacion, September 24, 1910, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 3134, fols. 12-13.

15. C.J. Veitch to E. J. Hitchcock, August 8, 1910, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 3134, fols. 10-11.

16. Michael Conniff, Black Labor on a White Canal: Panama, 1904-1981 (Pittsburgh, 1985), 9.

17. "Narrative Report," Enclosure No. 1 in Mr. Consul Cox's Despatch Commercial No. 12 of the 8th December 1910, FO 288/125:279-80.

18. Government Notice of November 24, 1910, published in the Times 1:7, November 25, 1910.

19. Times 1:8, November 26, 1910.

20. Times 1:6, November 24, 1910.

21. E Nutter Cox, British Consul, San Jose, "To the British Subjects from the Leeward Islands, from his Britannic Majesty's Consul in Costa Rica," November 29, 1910, FO 288/125:274.

22. Ken Post applies this concept, developed by Marx and Gramsci, to the Jamaican case in Arise Ye Starvelings: The Jamaican Labour Rebellion of 1938 and its Aftermath (The Hague, 1978). For example, he attributes a Jamaican peasants' appeal to "God and British Justice" to false consciousness, since "neither ... was likely to be on the side of the poor Jamaican peasant" (57).

23. Limon Governor Pardo to Ministro de Gobernacion, November 27, 1910, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 3134, fol. 24.

24. Abigail Bakan, Ideology and Class Conflict in Jamaica, 135. Even Maroon maroon, term for a fugitive slave in the 17th and 18th cent. in the West Indies and Guiana, or for a descendant of such slaves. They were called marron by the French and cimarrón by the Spanish.  communities in Jamaica apparently shared this view of the good King, as noted by R. C. Dallas in The History of the Maroons v.II (London, [1803] 1968), 208-209.

25. Bakan, Ideology and Class Conflict, 65, 91.

26. "Nosotros los delegados," ANCR Serie Gobernacion 3134, fol. 2.

27. Times 1:10, November 29, 1910.

28. Times 1:9, November 27, 1910.

29. For the 1831-32 rebellion see Mary Turner, Slaves and Missionaries: The Disintegration of Jamaican Slave Society, 1787-1834 (Urbana, 1982), 154-66; for the Morant Bay uprising see Bakan, Ideology and Class Conflict, 90.

30. Ken Post discusses of the role of syncretic religious forms in the development of slave and peasant consciousness in Jamaica generally (Arise Ye Starvelings: 140-48). For the role of Black Baptism in the 1831 rebellion, see Turner, Slaves and Missionaries, 148-53; for the Morant Bay rebellion, see Gad J. Heuman, Between Black and White: Race, Politics, and the Free Coloreds in Jamaica, 1792-1865 (Westport, CT, 1981), 190.

31. Limon Weekly News 297, July 7, 1906.

32. In addition to the case discussed here, Philippe Bourgois mentions that a Baptist minister led a strike on a UFCO plantation in Sixaola in 1918-19 (Ethnicity at Work, 253 n. 11).

33. "Narrative Report of the Disturbances in Limon, Costa Rica among the Labourers imported from the Leeward Islands," Enclosure No. 1 in Mr. Consul Cox's Despatch Commercial No. 12 of the 8th of December 1910, FO 288/125: 278.

34. Times 1:10, November 29, 1910. He based his appeal on the fact that "you are all men of the same color as myself, and many of you belong to the same country as myself."

35. Times 1:83, March 2, 1911. Unfortunately I was unable to ascertain whether Henderson was white or black. He remained in Limon for some time after his dismissal, and remained active in his Lodge (Times 1:103, March 25, 1911).

36. Limon Governor Pardo to Minister of the Interior, November 25, 1910, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 3134, fol. 18.

37. Limon Governor Pardo to Minister, November 27, 1910, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 3134, fol. 24.

38. Testimony of C. G. Ferguson and letter from Mayor of Bocas del Toro, ANCR Serie Gobernacion fol. 44, 51.

39. Testimony of Osmond Phillip Nunes Hart, May 23, 1911, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660.

40. Testimony of Charles Nation Kinlock, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660.

41. Testimony of Alfred Fitzgerald Coombs Coombs can refer to:
  • Coombs test, a test for the presence of antibodies or antigens
  • Coombs reagent, the reagent used in the Coombs test
  • Coombs' method, a type of voting designed by the psychologist Clyde Coombs
, May 24, 1911, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660.

42. See copy of the expulsion order in ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660, fol. 60.

43. Testimony of D.C. de Mercado De Mercado is a Spanish surname. Although its exact moment of appearance is not known, it is believed to have first appeared around the Spanish provinces of Segovia and Valladolid. Its roots are most likely in Old Castile or Andalusia. , ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660.

44. Schuler, "Alas, Alas, Kongo," A Social History of Indentured African Immigration immigration, entrance of a person (an alien) into a new country for the purpose of establishing permanent residence. Motives for immigration, like those for migration generally, are often economic, although religious or political factors may be very important.  into Jamaica, 1841-1865 (Baltimore, 1980), 32.

45. Ibid., 33.

46. Ibid., 34.

47. Ibid., 105.

48. Post, Arise Ye Starvelings, 145.

49. Edward Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770-1820 (Oxford, 1971), 162. Turner concurs that the slaves in the 1760 rebellion "had bound themselves by obeah oaths" (Slaves and Missionaries, 57).

50. Orlando Patterson, The Sociology of Slavery: An Analysis of the Origins, Development and Structure of Negro Slave Society in Jamaica ( London, 1967), 192.

51. Schuler, "Alas, Alas, Kongo," 136 n.9.

52. Patterson, Sociology of Slavery, 187, 191.

53. Brathwaite, Creole Society, 214.

54. Barry Higman, Slave Populations of the British Caribbean, 1807-1834 (Baltimore, 1984), 271.

55. See letter from UFCO Administrator in San Jose to the Secretary of Gobernacion, May 23,1911, and letter from F. Nutter Cox to Secretary of Gobernacion, May 26, 1911, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660, fols. 15, 24.

56. Administrator to Jimenez, November 29, 1910, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 3134, fol. 40. Although some authors have identified obeah as a particularly Jamaican phenomenon, Elsa Goveia found it just as prevalent in the Leeward Islands (Slave Society in the British Leeward Islands at the End of the Eighteenth Century [New Haven New Haven, city (1990 pop. 130,474), New Haven co., S Conn., a port of entry where the Quinnipiac and other small rivers enter Long Island Sound; inc. 1784. Firearms and ammunition, clocks and watches, tools, rubber and paper products, and textiles are among the many , 1965], 248).

This is the only written reference to Nathan's ties to obeah, and it is difficult to ascertain exactly what this charge meant to a North American UFCO official, or even if he chose the charge solely because he knew it was the easiest way to convince the Costa Rican government that Nathan should be deported. Undoubtedly, however, Nathan was respected by, and had great influence over, the St. Kitts workers.

57. Times 1:18, December 8, 1910.

58. The government investigators clearly asked witnesses whether Ferguson had circulated petitions or agitated ag·i·tate  
v. ag·i·tat·ed, ag·i·tat·ing, ag·i·tates
1. To cause to move with violence or sudden force.

 among the workers; they never inquired as to whether he had used obeah. It may also be that witnesses were afraid to publicly accuse Sterling and Ferguson of such things, since they could have retaliated by turning their powers against them. Obeah was clearly a force to be feared as well as admired. Since Nathan was deported without the benefit of an investigation, we know even less about him.

59. Times 166, June 13, 1911.

60. As mentioned above, the 1831-32 rebellion followed the growth of the Black Baptist movement (see Turner, Slaves and Missionaries, 128), while the 1865 Morant Bay uprising followed the religious revival of 1862 (see Heuman, Between Black and White, 171,189-90). The 1938 rebellion in Jamaica was nourished by the pocomania revival in the 1920s and 30s (Post, Arise Ye Starvelings, 145).

61. In this respect, religious revivalism in Limon followed the pattern that E. P. Thompson called the "chiliasm chiliasm: see millennium.  of despair" in early nineteenth century England. Thompson's descriptions of these revivalist meetings have much in common with the character of revivalism in Limon from 1911-1913 (see Thompson, Making of the English Working Class, 375, 380, 381). While studies of religion in Jamaica have tended to see revivalism as part of an Afro-Caribbean tradition, comparison with England suggests that the British Non-conformist sects lent themselves particularly well to such interpretations in times of social and economic stress.

62. The Times reported on Waite-Smith's departure in February (Times 1:69, February 14, 1911), and Henderson's in March (Times 1:83, March 2, 1911).

63. Testimony of Alfred Fitzgerald Coombs, Llewellyn Brock brock  
n. Chiefly British
A badger.

[Middle English brok, from Old English broc, of Celtic origin.]
, and Osmond Phillip Nunes Hart, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660. They do not give details about the strike, but it was probably a strike among the banana loaders, who travel in the train from farm to farm loading the fruit which has been cut. These men were protesting a cut in pay and a change in the way their hours were calculated which reduced the number of hours for which they would be paid. The Company tried unsuccessfully to force the St. Kitts men to break this strike. See the Times 1:123 (April 21, 1911), and 1:124 (April 22, 1911). The Company ended up bringing in 200 Costa Rican strikebreakers from the interior (Times 1:129 [April 28, 1911]).

64. McGrigor to E. J. Hitchcock, UFCO Manager in San Jose, May 22, 1911, ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660, fol. 34. McGrigor added that "for his services he was well paid and received a house and a peice (sic) of land." See also testimony of Osmond Phillip Nunes Hart and Llewellyn Brock, also in ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660.

65. Sterling belonged to one of the Masonic lodges. A fellow member, who changed his testimony several times over the course of the investigation, claimed that first Sterling and then another member who was a UFCO foreman invoked these ties of brotherhood to influence his testimony. See testimony of George Constantine George Constantine (born February 22, 1918 in Southbridge, Massachusetts; died January 7, 1968 in Southbridge) was a racing driver from the United States. He participated in one Formula One Grand Prix, debuting on December 12, 1959. He scored 0 championship points.  Salomon Dario in ANCR Serie Gobernacion 2660.

66. Quince Duncan, Los Cuatro cuat·ro  
n. pl. cuat·ros
A small guitarlike instrument of Latin America, usually having four or five pairs of strings.

[Spanish, from Latin quattuor, four; see quatrain.]
 Espejos (San Jose, Costa Rica, 1973), 46.

67. Ibid., 79.

68. Ibid., 47.

69. Since the 1960s, the Company has found that the best way to undermine labor militancy has been to support a docile doc·ile  
1. Ready and willing to be taught; teachable.

2. Yielding to supervision, direction, or management; tractable.
 union. See Bourgois, Ethnicity at Work, 10.

70. Times 1:98, March 19, 1911; 1: 104, March 26, 1911.
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Author:Chomsky, Avi
Publication:Journal of Social History
Date:Jun 22, 1995
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