By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
Is it any wonder Miami is the laughingstock of the entire nation?
Mayor Joe Carollo is tired of having Miami smirkingly referred to as a banana republic. He's fed up with all those people who keep driving up to the front doors of City Hall to toss bananas out their car windows. He's had it with the FedEx shipments of bananas that have been arriving nearly every day for the past week. And he has no tolerance for the pranksters who manufactured a new flag for the city plastered with, what else, bananas.
Miami is not a banana republic, the mayor insists, and anyone who thinks so is dead wrong.
You know what? I agree with him.
Miami would have to be much, much better run to qualify as a banana republic. When you think about it, Miami actually gives banana republics a bad name. Truth be told when the United Fruit Company or International Telephone and Telegraph or any other big American corporation took control of an economically desperate Latin-American nation, they also established a measure of order and stability. Of course they did this by exploiting the local labor force and installing their own tin-horn dictators who ruled with ruthless authoritarianism. But the way things are going in Miami, I suspect most folks would welcome such a change -- at least if the alternative is more of the same from Crazy Joe.
In fact this may be the only recourse for solving Miami's problems.
The difficulty, though, is that most big multinationals these days are leery of coming right out and taking over a foreign country, let alone an American city. So I figured the only way to get the ball rolling was to invite one of them in to the City of Miami.
"Chiquita Brands corporate offices, how may I direct your call?"
"I'd like to talk to whoever is in charge of recruiting."
"Do you mean personnel, sir?"
"No, I'd like to talk to whoever is in charge of deciding where you guys set up your banana republics."
"This isn't Banana Republic, sir. This is Chiquita. We don't sell clothes. We have nothing to do with those stores."
"I'm not taking about the clothing store. I'm talking about the banana company. I want to ask someone about setting up a puppet government in a Third World country."
"Which Third World country would that be, sir?"
"You mean in Florida?"
"Technically I suppose we're in Florida. But I don't know too many people these days who think of Miami as being part of the United States."
"Hold the line and I'll transfer you to international relations."
"International relations, this is Janice, how may I help you?"
"Hi, Janice, my name is Jim and I'm calling from Miami. I was wondering if Chiquita might be interested in coming down here and setting up its own banana republic."
"You mean the clothing store?"
"No, no, no! I'm talking about a puppet government, you know, just like you used to have in certain Central American countries."
"I'm pretty sure we don't do that anymore."
"Oh come on, for old time's sake. I'm sure it's like riding a bicycle: You never forget how. We could really use the help. Have you been reading all the crazy things that have been happening down here? Our mayor has gone cuckoo, the city's economic health is in the toilet, and ethnic and racial tensions are running at an all-time high. The only thing that could possibly save us is the strong hand of a benevolent corporate master. And I think you're just the company to do it."
"Well, that's very flattering but I've got to be honest with you. Miami seems just a little too dysfunctional, even for us. Besides, does anyone there actually grow bananas?"
"Hmmm, I hadn't thought about that."
"The best I can do is try to send down someone from our development office."
"Oh, thank you."
"I'm not making any promises. I just said I'd try. Don't get your hopes up."
"You're not a banana republic yet."
"I know, I know."
"But we'll see what we can do."
"That's all any of us can ask."