Leaders of the banana plantations workers' strike. From left to right: Pedro M. del Río, Bernardino Guerrero, Raúl Eduardo Mahecha, Nicanor Serrano and Erasmo Coronell. Guerrero and Coronel were killed by the Colombian army.
After U.S. officials in Colombia and United Fruit representatives portrayed the workers' strike as "communist" with a "subversive tendency" in telegrams to the U.S. Secretary of State, the United States government threatened to invade with the U.S. Marine Corps if the Colombian government did not act to protect United Fruit’s interests. The Colombian government was also compelled to work for the interests of the company, considering they could cut off trade of Colombian bananas with significant markets such as the United States and Great Britain.
The strike turned into the largest labor movement ever witnessed in the country until then. Radical members of the Liberal Party, as well as members of the Socialist and Communist Parties, participated.
These were not socialist demands. The workers wanted to be recognized as employees, and demanded the implementation of the Colombian legal framework of the 1920s.