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Roots of Resistance

Roots of Resistance
A Story of Gender, Race, and Labor on the North Coast of Honduras

A first-of-its-kind study of the working-class culture of resistance on the Honduran North Coast and the radical organizing that challenged US capital and foreign intervention at the onset of the Cold War, examining gender, race, and place.

March 2021
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416 pages | 6 x 9 |

On May 1, 1954, striking banana workers on the North Coast of Honduras brought the regional economy to a standstill, invigorating the Honduran labor movement and placing a series of demands on the US-controlled banana industry. Their actions ultimately galvanized a broader working-class struggle and reawakened long-suppressed leftist ideals. The first account of its kind in English, Roots of Resistance explores contemporary Honduran labor history through the story of the great banana strike of 1954 and centers the role of women in the narrative of the labor movement.

Drawing on extensive firsthand oral history and archival research, Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda examines the radical organizing that challenged US capital and foreign intervention in Honduras at the onset of the Cold War. She reveals the everyday acts of resistance that laid the groundwork for the 1954 strike and argues that these often-overlooked forms of resistance should inform analyses of present-day labor and community organizing. Roots of Resistance highlights the complexities of transnational company hierarchies, gender and race relations, and labor organizing that led to the banana workers strike and how these dynamics continue to reverberate in Honduras today.

  • Abbreviations and Acronyms
  • Glossary
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Honduran Workers—New Voices, Old Memories
  • 1. Intersecting Projects: Contested Visions for the North Coast
  • 2. Revolutionary Antecedents to the 1954 Strike: Liberals, Rebels, and Radicals
  • 3. Life and Labor in Banana Fincas
  • 4. The Making of a Campeño and Campeña Culture: Race, Gender, and Resistance
  • 5. “Mujeres que cuidaban hombres y vendedoras ambulantes”: Gendered Roles and Informal Work on the North Coast
  • 6. ¡La Gran Huelga del 1954! Labor Organizing in the Banana Labor Camps
  • 7. Contemporary Movement Leaders Reflect on the Legacy of the 1954 Strike
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices
    • A. Los 30 Puntos: Tela Railroad Company Worker Demands
    • B. Central Strike Committee 7 Demands of Company and Honduran Government, May 17, 1954
    • C. Standard Fruit Company Worker Strike Demands, May 7, 1954
    • D. Signed Contract between Standard Fruit Company, Agúan Valley, the Members of the Central Strike for Labor Relations
    • E. Program of the Honduran Revolutionary Democratic Party
    • F. Brief Selected Chronology of Labor and Political Events in Honduras
    • G. Table of Early Signs of Worker Actions and Strikes in Honduras
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda is an associate professor of Chicana/o-Latina/o Transnational Studies at Pitzer College and a member of the intercollegiate department of Chicanx Latinx studies at the Claremont Colleges Consortium.