United States of Banana


The Plot

“The plot of United States of Banana unfolds in the following way: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Nietzsche’s Zarathustra and a character named Giannina decide to cross the Hudson to go to Liberty Island, penetrate the Statue of Liberty and free Segismundo, subsequently freeing Puerto Rico from its colonial captivity. This act of defiance produces a response from Gertrude –Hamlet’s mother – who concocts a plan to marry Basilio, free Segismundo, and bring him into the same family as Hamlet as the only possible way to save the ancien régime of imperial United States of Banana from collapsing.

As part of her plan, Gertrude convinces Basilio that Puerto Rico should be granted admission into the United States of Banana, that all illegal immigrants shall be granted citizenship, and that the borders of the United States of Banana shall be opened. However, her efforts to mitigate the revolution by granting concessions to Giannina and the other insurgents fail, who declare unilaterally the independence of Puerto Rico after realizing that the changes in the United States of Banana’s policies towards Puerto Rico and Latin America were an attempt to perpetuate a sort of imperial Pax Banana under the joint leadership of Basilio and Gertrude.

War erupts between Puerto Rico, Cuba (which has claims to Puerto Rico and seeks to create its own Caribbean empire), and the United States of Banana; Giannina and her comrades can only rely on coconuts and philosophical conversation to fight the soldiers of the empire. But the timely intervention of China – the United States creditor – secures the independence of Puerto Rico and brings Braschi’s geo-political comedy to a close.”

Ronald Mendoza de Jesus (“Freedom: United States of Banana and the Limits of Sovereignty.” Poets, Philosophers, Lovers: On the Writings of Giannina Braschi.)