work with a insecticide in the banana fields left sick and barren, Decades later, hundreds of Nicaraguan farmers are still demanding that the companies responsible pay for the damages, a possibility that was weakened this Wednesday after the French justice system rejected the lawsuit.
Some b in the municipality of TonalaThe rusty rail where Nemagan was bottled, a product used as an insecticide on banana plantations in the Cinadega Department of northwestern Nicaragua. Containers were sometimes reused to store water.
Attracted by the employment offered by banana companies, Tonla saw its residents multiply in the 1970s, close to the crops and with only 600 residents.
Banana plantations were established in the north-west of NicaraguaFertile land, warm weather and heavy rains from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.
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“Tonala had about four farms, each with 4,000 workers. This was where they paid the best, they had hostels for employees and it took three to four days for a shipment of bananas,” says Luis Gomez It is said that now he is 60 years old. old.
“It was great, people came from everywhere, but that joy came from the sadness of not having children,” details Luis’ wife, 55-year-old Idalia Paz, who was sterile because of a farmer. exposure to these chemicals,
DBCP, an insecticide banned in the United States in the late 1970s and marketed as Nemagon or Fumazone in Nicaragua until the mid-1980s, has been the subject of numerous lawsuits in Latin America.
It was used in banana plantations and was accused of causing cancer and infertility. The health risks were recognized in 1977, after several cases of infertility were detected among workers at a California factory.
“If we had known there was a danger, we would have taken care of ourselves in another way. But we didn’t know that, until we found out later that this product is harmful (…), I have some diseases besides sterility; if I’m alive it’s because God is great,” admitted Pedro Regalado, 74, who worked at El Paraíso Farm.
“They do not accept the claim”
In 2006, a Chinadega court sentenced agrochemical companies Shell, Dow Chemical and Occidental Chemical to pay $805 million to approximately 1,200 former banana farm workers for health effects caused by the pesticide. But they never found anything and many victims have already died.
The decision was confirmed on appeal in Nicaragua, and in 2008 the plaintiffs took the case to France through an ‘executive’ process, which allows applications to be made in country a foreign court decision,
Farmers are expected to wait for the court’s decision this Thursday in Tonala while they discuss how they will use the money for their health.
But the empty and muffled voice in the voice of Bernard Zavala, the lawyer on the other end of the phone, put an end to his dreams.
“They don’t accept the claim because the judges didn’t have jurisdiction over the companies,” explains Javala, in touch with the team in Paris.
The court held that the Chinandega judges, who had sentenced the companies in the first place, “were not competent”, as the companies condemned that the case was requested to be protected by a 2001 Nicaraguan law in the United States.
“We feel disappointed (…) here [en Tonalá] this was where it was watered [el pesticida], it was here that it was affected in Nicaragua. We were expecting a verdict in favor of the patients,” reprimanded Idalia. The plaintiffs will appeal.
In his house with a large courtyard and surrounded by fruit trees, Louis lives with his wife Idalia and three dogs. Idalia cries when she remembers that her husband had become sterile due to exposure to chemicals.
Former activist Pedro Fletz says, “I was deeply disappointed when they told me I was 100% sterile, that I was damaged and that I was never going to have children, that they are things that hurt and hurt life. leaves a mark for.” 57 years.
“Sometimes we are rejected by society itself. I have gone through a very difficult time when they say to me: ‘You came to this world with nothing, you did not produce (children), you came to nothing ,” he says, while a few tears escape that he tries to stop it with the torso of his arm.
When he was 10 years old, Pedro was taken by his father to work in the banana plantations of Tonala, where he was exposed to chemicals. The kids walking with their parents were called “goats,” he recalls.
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In addition to his sterility, Pedro has been battling kidney ailments, bone pain, and numbness in the hands and feet for nearly 12 years.
He lives with her who is his third partner. Two others abandoned her because of her sterility. He is homeless and survives by taking care of a relative’s property away from Tonla. He still grows bananas, but in private.
“I think it was more than unfair, it was a crime” is what the internationals in Nicaragua did. Even if there is compensation, “they won’t pay me for the damage, the loss is already there, it’s irreparable,” he says.
Disease, sterility and lack of justice, damage from a pesticide in Nicaragua