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The US transformed the banana into one of the most popular produce commodities throughout America and Europe. The three largest US banana corporations (Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita) have achieved success by violating the rights of the individuals who are producing these bananas in Central American countries. One of the greatest problems occurring within the banana industry is that only about 20% of the prices paid by consumers in supermarkets reach the exporting country. Instead of going to the workers and farmers who put the effort into producing this community, much of the revenues put into the industry, including packing materials, fertilizers and pesticides, and especially toward the profits of corporate executives.
Bananas produced by the farmers do not go into sustaining healthy lifestyles for the farmers and their families. Farmers work and live in difficult and hazardous conditions. Plantation workers toil 12 to 14 hour workdays, with overtime and low pay.
The three largest banana corporations, Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita, wield a great deal of power over the farmers, denying them the right to speak out against their working conditions and keeping their pay low. There are many unions that are fighting for the justice of the banana workers but they face large risks because the companies use intimidation and even assassination to keep them quiet. Colombia is the most dangerous country to be a union worker. Guatemala is the second most dangerous.
IRTF urges individuals and groups to join our efforts to support union workforces in fields and to promote fair trade organic bananas as a just alternative. We hope to get people exposed to the human rights violations that are occurring and the destruction the banana corporations have brought upon Latin American countries.
Universities and grocery stores have slowly begun to adopt fair trade bananas. We hope that consumers can change their habits and make more just and sustainable choices for those who are farming a fruit that has become such a staple of our diet.
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