Date: Thu, 14 May 98 16:10:53 CDT
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Banana workers' leader assassinated
From Agencia Informativa Pulsar, 13 May 1998
TEGUCIGALPA. Honduras.- Two unknown men shot dead Medardo Varela, the leader of a movement which forced US banana companies to pay compensation to thousands of workers affected by the use of pesticides in banana plantations.
Medardo Varela, 53 years old, was shot yesterday (May 12) in Sav, north of Tegucigalpa. Sav is the village where the US company Castle and Cooke use to be located.
Medardo Varela was one of the trade union leaders who fought to achieve compensation for more than 5,000 workers. These workers use to work at the Castle and Chiquita Brands plantations and were left sterile as a result of the pesticides used in the banana plantations. The government ruled that the use of the chemical product known as "Megamn" in the US based banana companies plantations resulted in many Honduran workers being left sterile. This ruling was made last April.
According to the government, some 8,000 workers used this pesticide for 12 years the big banana, pinneapple and other fruit plantations. None of them had any protecting clothing and they did not know the harmful effects of these chemical products. The US banned the use of this pesticides in 1977 after it was proved that they caused sterility, blindness and cancer on humans. Nevertheless, US companies in Honduras kept using them.
Agencia Informativa Pulsar
La Red Obrera/LabourNet