UNITED STATES—And in 1955, Sam Delaney was still Allied Fruit, and Allied Fruit was Sam Delaney. Now Sam’s go-to man for propaganda mojo, the one and only Bernard ‘Bernie’ Lukasey, supplied the ammo. In 1955 at the age of 60, Bernie’s arsenal of both sublime and visceral manipulative techniques was lavishly stocked. Best of all, once Sam Delaney called him from his portico office with all the big windows so long dreamed of for his New Orleans wedding-cake ante-bellum styled mansion, created during his too-brief retirement concerned, shall we say, about the fallow lands property of Allied being confiscated and going to mostly Mayan people to farm.

Allied owned 55 percent of the land and cultivated only 15 percent. Bernie noted the irony of Sam, a Russian immigrant being sore about lands that had already been confiscated.

“So what if the Spanish already took their lands when they were living there? #$% dem,” said Sam.

“These people love you, Sam. They call you El Amigo. And you’ve always got a couple of mistresses with smooth brown thighs in San Pedro Sula.”

Sam would not dignify that comment, even though he was well into his third old-fashioned, and looking forward to the cherry.

Bernie Lukasey spoke on in his measured reptilian voice:

“The new leader will provide that balance of love for the people and respect for the high-paying jobs. We’ve always paid the most of the people on the isthmus.”

Providentially, Bernie devised a plan for spying. The plan involved putting in place a network of moles, as they say in spycraft: one plan for seducing newspapers, and plan for waging psychological warfare—all this from a guy with an office on Forty-Second Street. Lukasey even had a three-prong plan for contrasting his Godless enemy’s outlook on thirty-three vital issues with those of Christianity. The sheer audacity of this plan lay in Bernie’s way of seeing a level of reality that was in plain sight that everybody else and their mother could see, but Bernie saw it first. While Carneyism and the witchhunt, all pointed to the Soviet Union, Bernie in his presentation of the plan to the New York office of Allied Fruit, brought out the map, the pointer and the slide show, and said:

“They said it can’t happen here. Yeah, it can’t happen here. BUT IT ALREADY DID,” Bernie said, and while his rapt audience was absorbing his pamphlet proposal. He wielded the pointer, “The country is experiencing a Red Scare primarily construed as the Soviet threat.” He took the red tip of his pointed the enormous land mass shaped like a Brahman bull, that stretched from Poland to Japan. “Gentlemen,” Bernie said and slid the pointer with an ominous soft glissando, “the communists already have a beachhead in our own hemisphere.”

The red pointer came to a stop in one of the small Bananaland republics that some of the gentlemen on the board of directors had to step up and peer. Instantly everyone in the executive meeting room was seeing red. Guatemala. He framed it this way. The very safety of the Free World hung in the balance in this covert operation waged especially for Allied Fruit. Everybody in the company hated Bernie, didn’t trust him, didn’t like his politics, didn’t like his fees. But their general sense was they were getting their money’s worth, very definitely.

Maybe somebody in the U.S. Government remembered what happened with Sam’s Co. Chamelecón in 1911 when the Secretary of State dismissed him. Now, a half century later, in fact reacted with alacrity rather than ignoring Sam Delaney’s dilemma.

Few shots were fired in this covert operation that amounted to an undeclared war. A young go-go publicist, Granger joined the company in ‘52, just about the time Gastón made his big move to expropriate our land, that was really their land, and there occurred a complete turnaround in the press as a result of what Bernie did. There was absolutely no question that Bernie played a significant role in changing public opinion on Guatemala and furthermore, he a private citizen, a hired stump for clients ended up calling the shots for swashbuckling Machiavellian escapades that got recorded in history. He made history and his presence was erased. He reduced everything to its simplest component. He did it through manipulation of the press.

“He was very, very good at that until the day he died.” Bernie Lukasey himself said in his bestselling Prosperity and Propaganda:

He denied that he charged fees; that’s for day laborers. It was a consultation, “The sky’s the limit when you’re consulting.” As for politics, cynics cynically charged that Bernard “Bernie” with being cynical, but it wasn’t that his politics were askew; Lukasey was essentially apolitical. To be this chameleon, will o’ the wisp for big business.

All this for an undeclared war waged on behalf of Allied Fruit. A war fought by the US government on behalf of its silent partner, Allied Fruit Co., on foreign soil, against the elected government of Guatemala. A war that, in the mid-1950s when the Cold War seemed ready to boil over, was seen by those waging it as a crusade to keep Moscow from expanding their beachhead just a thousand miles south of New Orleans.

It was guttural, it was too shocking to be easily digested—it bore the devious signature of Bernard Lukasey, almost bloodless, who persevered imperturbably like an ancient turtle. The psychological warfare included recorded sound effects, air-raid sirens, veils of smoke in the perimeter of the city, confused recorded voices disseminated from sound towers 20-feet high, and radio reports from Miami depicting the battle as fictional infantry was doggedly closing in on the capital as they got the upper hand over government loyalists.

“Not one shot was fired,” Bernie boasted when it was all said and done, and Gascón was spirited in a Cessna to Acapulco, trembling like a chihuahua.

To be continued…

Grady is the Wizard of Fiction.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)