UNITED STATES—Finally someone had the guts to stand up to Allied Fruit, it marked the dawn of a new era in central America. Violinists and accordion players poured in, and revolutionists and painters and would-be saints. Abstract expressionism made a vibrant appearance. Journalists straggled in. Spanish speaking reformers of every stripe, as well as adventurers, thrillseekers, artistes, poets, people curious for the taste of freedom, set off for that land of lakes and mountains. Communists, socialists, abstract expressionists, Stalinists, Trotskyists, Maoists, drunkards and pederasts all set off for the isthmus. It was a magnet for radical chic tourism. A symbol and refuge for the disenfranchised and the disenchanted.

“What would Uncle Sigmund think?” thought Bernard Lukasey, who saw the world through Gotham Time’s eyes. His phone would ring, it hadn’t rung yet. He had plenty of clients now between Ford Motorcars, Betty Crocker and AT&T. G-d knew, Bernard was like this machine that can register seismic activity twenty thousand miles away. He had a secretary work up some notes for Allied Fruit.

Guatemala was turning into a beatnik haven and a rogues gallery. It got more attention from the State Department. Each day bohemians and anarchists poured into the country.

Slept in hotels, camped on beaches, filled the café Minerva and Guamote with smoke andcaffeinated chatter. All the suspects who would long vex and bedevil Uncle Sam’s Hamburgerland flocked to Guatemala City, or were en route. It was a party.

They came from far and wide, from New York and a young guy from Argentina. He grew up in the province Rosario in the Paraná River. Asthmatic . Like many sickly children, he became very perceptive and observant from the time he was small. He could see elected leaders and not only the leaders, but the businessmen who lurked behind the leaders and manipulated them as puppets. The Argentinian rooted against corporations the other children rooted against Lex Luthor. They poured in, a beatnik guitarist player who improvised to the tune of Gershwin’s “Embraceable You” did “Hateable You.”

Hateable you,
Debateable you,
It’s quite a stew,
AFCO bananas
And copper too,
Now we come for your people
There’s always a loophole,
Debatable, hateable you.
When’ll we learn,
When does a company
Become a concern.

It is a song Ernesto heard when he arrived in Guatemala City the year Graydon Miller’s parents got married in a farmhouse in Idaho. He walked for hours, talked all night. For the Argentinian, it was the place where a person could breathe “the most democratic air in Latin America.” It was here that he met tough young Cubans, the leaders of an army of a guy named Fidel, whose cause he would join. Fidel himself was in prison in the Isle of Pines, Cuba. But President Gascón granted refuge to Fidel’s soldiers. In these men, Ernest found the perfect balance of action and theory.

He moved into their apartments, shared their sleeping bags and meals with the exiled army. So really the taking of Allied Fruits uncultivated lands did more than damage their ledger books. It lit a fuse that burned through the hemisphere. It gave Ernesto a cause. The Cubans were the ones who called him “Che,” which means something like “Hey,” in Argentinian argot.

Che Guevara said he first felt true and unadulterated hatred while reading about the Braden Copper Company, a subsidiary of Kennecott, the U.S. firm that had its paws on the mineral veins of Latin America, from which the telephone company extruded its copper cables to wrap the world.

Since 1948 Spruille Braden a U.S. Ambassador at large in Latin America started to receive a salary as lobbyist for the Allied Fruit Co. When this company’s interests were afflicted in Guatemala, he was one of the actors who helped sculpt the coup that deposed President Gascón around the time TV sets were just getting popular in Hamburgerland. He helped to conceive and implement the coup d’etat that replaced Augusto Jacobo Gascón with another army officer.

Spruille Braden later helped get Anastasio Somoza Debayle a starter dictatorship in Nicaragua, where his family had already ruled since 1937. In his first act as President of Nicaragua on May Day 1967 he awarded Ambassador Braden and wife Verbena “The Great Cross of Rubén Dario,” the semi-forgotten poet star of America who conquered Spain, and then was conquered by wine that conquers the poet when water could save us all, but the wine if Rioja craves to transfuse out veins.

On which occasion, the dictator made the remarks that: “Diplomatic ‘Patience and good manners are fine under the Marques of Queensberry rules, but they lead to defeat when applied to a barroom fight, like that which we have with the Kremlin. Often it is necessary to fight fire with fire. Nobody more than I opposed to intervening in the affairs of other nations. But. . . we can be compelled to intervene. . . I would like to emphasize that exalted moneyism , excuse me, capitalism, excuse me, communism, there I said it.

Communism is so flagrantly global and not domestic. Its suppression, even by force, in an American country, by one or more of the other republics, does not constitute intervention in internal affairs.”  

To be continued…

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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)