Date: Mon, 23 Feb 98 23:27:42 CST
From: rich%pencil@VTBIT.CC.VT.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Weekly Americas News Update #421, 2/22/98
Article: 28617

/** reg.nicaragua: 55.0 **/
** Topic: Weekly News Update #421, 2/22/98 **
** Written 9:02 PM Feb 22, 1998 by wnu in cdp:reg.nicaragua **

Honduran Banana Workers Suspend Protests

Weekly Americas News Update, #421, 22 February 1998

Some 2,600 Honduran former banana workers who worked for the US transnational Standard Fruit Company suspended a protest action on Feb. 14 after reaching an accord with the Honduran government and Standard Fruit. The workers had blocked highways in the area starting on Feb. 11, preventing the shipment of bananas out of the area [see Update #420]. The agreement stipulates that workers will receive some kind of compensation within 60 days for health problems proven to be caused by the pesticide Dibromo Cloro Propano (DBCP), known locally as Nemagon. The agreement was reached in the city of Tocoa at a meeting with Labor Minister Andres Victor Artiles and Presidency Minister Gustavo Alfaro; National Human Rights Commissioner Leo Valladares Lanza; military authorities; and executives of Standard Fruit.

As they suspended their protest action, the former workers said they will remain watchful to make sure the promises made to them are kept, since they have been tricked on many prior occasions. As the negotiations were under way, a contingent of 100 military troops with anti-riot gear was ready to remove the protesters from the highway by force if no agreement were reached. [La Prensa (Honduras) 2/16/98] President Carlos Flores Facusse has formed a commission to investigate the links between the pesticide used by Standard Fruit and the health problems suffered by the local community of Olanchito. [Notimex 2/21/98] The commission held its first session on Feb. 17. [LP 2/18/98]

In Nicaragua, current and former banana workers suffering from the effects of Nemagon have formed an association and are engaged in a legal battle in Texas. According to their lawyer, Rafael Solis, some 1,500 workers are demanding compensation from the US chemical companies (including Dow and Shell) that manufacture and market Nemagon. [Nicaragua News Service Vol. 6, No. 7, 2/8-14/98, from El Nuevo Diario 2/12/98]