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March 30, 2005

Some of you may have heard of draconian tactics undertaken by Chiquita to protect (and try to increase) their banana sales world-wide, but are you aware that the innocuously named United Fruit Company later became United Brands, then, still later Chiquita Brands?

An interesting timeline of Chiquita's history.

A report about pesticide spraying of substances banned in the USofA, dying workers, a lawsuit, and USofA corporations refusing to accept the judgment of the courts.

From the timeline:

1979 The United States bans the use of dibromochloropropane (DBCP) for the effects it has on human health. DBCP had been developed by Dow Chemical and Shell Oil as a pesticide to kill nematodes (microscopic worms that feed on the roots of banana trees). DBCP had used widely in the Central American plantations since the 1960s and caused damages in the banana workers' testicles. Although prohibited in the United States this pesticide continued being used in the banana-producing countries.

Emphasis, mine, but does anyone doubt that "Nemagon" is the market name of the chemical sprayed to fight "nematodes"? (Aha! I found confirmation. Scroll down to, "Workers slam US banana firms".)

1993 A Texas court settles out a multimillion dollar suit filed against several American companies by thousands of Costa Rican banana workers in the 1980s who claimed that they had been made sterile by exposure to DBCP, an insecticide.

From the story:

On January 17th, 2001, due to these efforts, the Nicaraguan National Assembly passed Law 364, which lays the legal groundwork upon which farmworkers can sue the corporations

Three U.S. corporations have been found liable under Law 364 in a Nicaraguan court; Dole, Dow, and Shell have been ordered to pay US$490 million to Nemagon victimsEach of these companies has denied the legality of the case on fallacious grounds, calling for a new trial in the U.S.

The 364 case was dismissed by a California court for "technical reasons" but some case, possibly the one in the Texas court? Was settled for $50M in 1997/98, with everyone but Dole (formerly Standard Fruit) participating.

I guess now I'm wondering...where did the $50M go and why are the people in the original story I quoted living in a plastic-tent camp? Are they all former Dole employees or something?

Posted by AnneZook at 03:38 PM