The Coup and the Palm Trees

Agrarian Conflict and Political Power in Honduras

Title Details

Pages: 240

Illustrations: 6 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 10/01/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6537-4

List Price: $29.95


Pub Date: 10/01/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6536-7

List Price: $114.95

The Coup and the Palm Trees

Agrarian Conflict and Political Power in Honduras

How the complex history of an agrarian region transformed existing power hierarchies

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“If they are going to kill us anyway, we might as well die in our lands.” With these words and a shrug of shoulders, a leader of the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguán (MUCA) explains their decision to occupy more than 20,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in the Bajo Aguán region in Northern Honduras after the military coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009.

The Coup under the Palm Treesinterrogates the Honduran present, through an exploration of the country’s spatiotemporal trajectory of agrarian change since the mid-twentieth century. It tells the double history of how the Aguán region went from a set of “empty” lands to the centerpiece of the country’s agrarian reform in the 1980s and a central site for the palm oil industry and drug trade, while a militarized process of state formation took place between the coups of 1963 and 2009. Rather than a case of failed democratic transition, the book shows how the current Honduran crisis—exemplified by massive outmigration towards the United States, blatant narco-state links, and the 2009 coup—is better understood within longer historical processes in which violence, exclusion, and dispossession became the central organizational principles of the state.

By revealing key historical connections between Cold War and post–Cold War era reforms in Honduras, The Coup and the Palm Trees demonstrates that while Honduras has moved beyond bananas, struggles over land remain central to the nation’s political conflicts, including the 2009 overthrow of President Zelaya. This book should be read by all who want to get beyond the headlines of an immigration 'crisis' and understand the deep political and economic roots that compel many Hondurans to struggle for their livelihoods and a more democratic future.

—John Soluri, author of Banana Cultures: Agriculture, Consumption, and Environmental Change in Honduras and the United States

About the Author/Editor

Andrés León Araya is associate professor of Political Science at the University of Costa Rica.