Oleg Zabluda's blog
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Samuel Zemurray (Шмил/Самуил Давидович Змура) (born to a poor Jewish family 1877 in Kishinev, Russian Empire, died...
Samuel Zemurray (Шмил/Самуил Давидович Змура) (born to a poor Jewish family 1877 in Kishinev, Russian Empire, died 1961 in New Orleans, Louisiana), emigrated (alone) to his uncle in Alabama, when he was 14. There he first saw bananas, and at the age 18, was reselling bananas from ships locally, accumulating $100,000 by age 21. In 1910 (age 33)  he bought jungles in Honduras and developed them as banana plantations. Fearing overturn of his sweetheart tax deals in Honduras, he organized and financed a revolution restoring to power previously deposed Honduran president Manuel Bonilla, who granted Zemurray land concessions and low taxes.

"Banana republic" term was coined by O. Henry's (1862-1910) "Cabbages and Kings" (1897, predating Zemurray, but all true), which he wrote in Honduras, while having jumped bail from US on federal charges of embezzlement in First National Bank of Austin, where he worked as a teller and bookkeeper. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to five years jail in 1898, where he served 3 years and published 14 stories.

Rich Cohen's biography of Samuel Zemurray, which started it all, is poorly documented, also makes the following claims, not supported by any evidence, or wrong:
Zemurray's  convinced the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo to allow in some 5,000 Jewish refugees escaping Nazi Europe. He paid for dozens of ships to help Jews in Displaced Persons camps after the war to break the British blockade of Palestine [OZ: SS Exodus was sailing under Honduras flag]. When the initial vote to create the Jewish state failed at the United Nations in 1947 - but was close enough to allow for a re-vote within 72 hours - Zemurray from his mansion in New Orleans called several Latin American leaders and got enough of them to switch their votes. explaining otherwise mysterious ones — Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador, Panama.



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