A few rusty cans of the DBCP are still visible here and there on Tonala Road in Chinandega Division. The pesticide has been used for years in banana orchards in the northeastern Nicaraguan region.
In the 1970s, attracted by the job opportunities offered by art companies in the surrounding gardens, many workers arrived in Tonala, where there were only 600 inhabitants at the time, as against 13,000 today. These plantations developed between the 1960s and 1980s, taking advantage of fertile soil, warm climate and abundant rainfall.
If we knew it was dangerous, we would have taken other precautions.
“There were four farms in Tonala, each with 4,000 workers. That’s where you got the best pay.”I remember Luis Gomez, 60 years old. “It was good, people came from all over but the joy of not having children turned into sorrow.”, His wife Idalia Paz, 55 years old explained. Lewis became sterile after his exposure to DBCP.
The pesticide, which was banned in the United States in the late 1970’s and was marketed in Nicaragua under the names Nemagan and Fumazon until the mid-1980’s, has been widely criticized in Latin America for cancer and infertility.
Health risks were identified in the United States in 1977 after a farm in California identified high rates of infertility among workers.
“If we had known it was dangerous, we would have taken other precautions. But we didn’t know, we only found out later.”AFP tells Pedro Regalado, 74, who was sterilized after working on the El Paraiso farm.
In 2006, a court in Chinendega ordered three American multinationals – Shell, Dow Chemical and Occidental Chemical – to pay 80 805 million in damages to 1,200 workers who market pesticides in the country.
But they did not receive a penny, and many of them died. The decision was confirmed at the Nicaraguan Cassation in 2013 but was never implemented.
The American company withdrew all their assets from Nicaragua, explained Gustavo Antonio Lopez, a lawyer for the workers. For their part, the multinationals claimed they did not “I’ve never been to the country”According to their advice.
The plaintiffs then placed all their hopes before a French court in an “executive” manner introduced in 2018. This approach makes it possible for a decision by a foreign court to be enforced in France, including the possible seizure of the company’s assets in Europe.
Farmers gathered in Tonala and waited together in Paris for Wednesday’s decision. But their lawyer Bernard Javala’s brazen voice on the telephone quickly shattered their hopes. “They’re firing us.” The lawyer announced, contacting his opponent in Paris.
The judges said,Not applicable to French territory “ All Nicaraguan court decisions are based on the fact that multinationals have chosen to be tried in the United States under their own law, which “Nicaraguan deprived of all jurisdiction”.
“We were disappointed (…). Here the pesticides were spread, here in Nicaragua we were attacked. We were waiting for the decision on behalf of the sick.”“, Idalia Paz laments.
I think it’s wrong, it’s a crime
“When they told me I was 100% sterile (…) I felt a deep frustration. These things hurt you and mark you for life.”Pedro Flatts, 57, said he was ten years old when his father took him to work in a tonal banana orchard. He is also suffering from kidney and bone pain.
“I think it’s unfair, it’s a crime,” said Nicaragua Multinational. “They did not want to compensate me but they are there, they are irreplaceable. “