Tag Archives: Ecuador

Secret gag on UK Times preventing publication of Minton report into toxic waste dumping

 

WIKILEAKS:This document, as sent confidentially to the editor of the UK Times newspaper, contains variation on an existing secret High Court gag-order, a so-called “super-injunction”, blocking the UK press from disclosing the existence or contents of the “Minton Report” into toxic waste dumping by Trafigura, appearing on WikiLeaks. The order was first obtained against the Guardian on the 11th of September, 2009 and was updated several times, including on the 18th of September 2009.

The secret injunction caused a scandal in the UK on 12-13 October 2009, when lawyers for Trafigura, Carter-Ruck, told the Guardian that it prevented the Guardian reporting a parliamentary question by Paul Farrelly MP mentioning the Minton report. This contravened the longstanding assumption that the reporting of Parliament should not be hindered in any way.

Following parliamentary condemnation, Carter-Ruck agreed to amend the order so it would not apply to the Parliamentary record, but would, in all other ways, continue to gag the press.

This updated variation was then faxed to UK newspaper The Times on 16, October 2009.

The injuction, in all other respects, remains in effect at the time of posting this.

Allow me to add my thankyou’s to Julian Assange and the Wikileaks Team for giving us the chance to find out what is really going on behind our backs

 


Obama Promised GMO Labeling in 2007

According to a poll conducted by Reuters Thompson, more than 90% of Americans feel that products containing GMOs should be labeled.  Back in 2007, Obama pulled the support of GMO activists by promising to push for proper labeling of GMO food items, stating that he would push to “let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.” Of course the promise was not fulfilled, as 4 years later in 2011 GMO foods are still not properly labeled. In fact, products containing the Non-GMO label have actually been found to contain GMOs.

Not only has Obama been completely silent on the GMO labeling issue despite his bold statements, but so has the FDA — the very organization in charge of ensuring the ‘health’ of United States consumers. An organization that has caused even more harm, however, is the USDA. The USDA has been approving the production of many new genetically modified crops, including the highly-controversial genetically modified alfalfa. Despite the warnings of scientists and health activists over the dangers of genetically modified crops on human health and the environment, the USDA has continually supported biotech corporation Monsanto over the American public.

GMOs rambunctiously approved by the FDA and USDA, despite known dangers

Despite acknowledging the fact that these crops lead to herbicide-resistant weeds, the USDA assures consumers that these DNA-altering crops are safe for consumption.

As the FDA and USDA continually approve genetically modified creations such as AquaAdvantage salmon without proper labeling, it becomes necessary for consumers to take action. Major ‘health’ food stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s still offer products that contain GMOs that are either not labeled at all, or deceptively so. Slogans like ‘All Natural’ mean virtually nothing when it comes to GMOs and other toxic ingredients, tricking shoppers into thinking they are avoiding these health sinks.

Tell Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to label their GMO products and stop deceiving customers. It seems that it will be health-conscious activists, not Obama, who will ”let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.”


Swedish Skanska’s Secrets with Repsol-YPF

 

The Swedish construction company Skanska’s oil affairs reveal a corporate identity that is very different from the one conveyed in its home market. Operations in South America are distantly removed from all legal, ethical and ecological principles that Skanska has sworn to uphold in its Code of Conduct and Corporate Policy.

Falsified invoices, bribery scandals, extortion, environmental destruction, and serious violations of human rights are among the ethical and legal infractions that Skanska has been associated with in Latin America. Most recently, scandals have loomed regarding the company’s operations in the controversial but economically lucrative gas and oil sector, to cite the notorious “Skanska case” in Argentina as one example.

Skanska’s joint venture partners are notorious giants like Exxon-Mobil, ChevronTexaco, Total Fina Elf, and BP-Amoco, whose operations systematically violate human rights, and create political uncertainty and ecological disasters.

Skanska’s joint venture partners also include Repsol-YPF, a Spanish-Argentinean oil company, belongs to this group. According to Oilwatch, its operations are some of the most criticized in the world from a human rights and environmental standpoint. Despite that, Skanska works with Repsol-YPF in some of Latin America’s most vulnerable regions, including the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. In these vulnerable ecosystems oil extraction is continually met with strong local opposition and Repsol-YPF is involved in a number of legal cases involving crimes against both national and international environmental laws, as well as human rights and the rights of native populations.

In Argentina alone (where the company has the largest gas and oil fields in the Mapuche people’s territories), the company is the subject of at least four different legal cases involving pollution and socio-cultural devastation. In Bolivia and Ecuador, in oil fields where they have technical cooperation with Skanska, Repsol-YPF is the subject of legal cases and criticism from native people, and human rights and environmental organizations.

Calculated Double Standard

In Skanska’s Code of Conduct, the company actively distances itself from socially and ecologically destructive operations. On their website one can read how they value “social responsibility” and strive for “sustainable development.” However, entering into a partnership with Repsol-YPF means choosing a completely different side and taking a position in favor of operations that walk over bodies for economic gain.

The Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO-protected nature reserve and the native territory of the Waorani people, is situated in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. There, Skanska and Repsol-YPF are operating under very controversial conditions, as highlighted by organizations such as Oilwatch and Acción Ecológica. Together with the Waorani people, Oilwatch has criticized how the companies’ advance is taking place under the protection of military forces and private security teams. Oilwatch’s book, Atlas Amazónico, describes how the company has committed the most terrible violations of human rights in the particular area of Yasuni (Oil Block 16).

When the Swedish independent media group, Yelah.net, went to meet with Skanska’s regional manager in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Milton Diaz, numerous times during 2006, he confirmed the militarized situation that the oil industry creates and in which Skanska actively participates. He explained that Skanska operates under military protection and that private armed forces (mercenaries and paramilitaries) are essential to be able to operate in what he refers to, disparagingly, as “banana republics.”

In Ecuador, where Diaz oversees Skanska’s oil activities in the rain forest, the local population, authorities, and environmental organizations have directed harsh criticism towards the operation. According to Marcos Baños, from the environmental inspection unit in the Amazon province of Orellana, Skanska has been negligent from an environmental standpoint as well as a purely legal one— a problem that they have attempted to bribe themselves out of.

I
Illegal oilfield burn on Repsol-YPF/Skanska project—photo from Oilwatch
t is not just in Ecuador that Skanska is behaving badly. There are also concrete facts regarding the company’s negligent and reckless activities in Bolivia.

In conjunction with oil exploitation, a poisonous gas is produced which, by law, should be burned off under special conditions. However, for economic reasons, an illegal practice has resulted in these byproducts frequently being released around oil fields—to avoid the taxes and expenses associated with lawful burning. This practice has resulted in numerous toxic pollutants being released, which can cause mminent mortal danger since the emissions form stores of explosive gas.

In oil fields in the Bolivian Chapare, where Skanska works with Repsol-YPF, this has resulted in catastrophic consequences for the local population. Even though innocent people have lost their lives, the companies continue with their illegal pollution, completely exempt from penalties and with military protection against local civic opposition.

The Industry’s Innocent Victims

In June 2005 Repsol-YPF’s gas emissions around an oil field in Bolivia (Chapare-Surubí D) resulted in an explosion in which people from a local native village were killed. Skanska works with Repsol-YPF at the same field (overseeing technical aspects of the exploitation) without acknowledging any responsibility whatsoever for the hazardous situation that the oil production generates.

Those affected by the gas explosion in Bolivia included 45-year-old Emilio Uceida and his two sons who, during the evening of the accident in 2005, were out on a fishing trip by the river next to their home. When one of the family members lit a cigarette lighter, the gas that had been released over the river ignited and the father and his sons started burning. Emilio Uceida and his 13-year-old son Edgar Uceida burned to death, while the other son, 18-year-old Mario Uceida, received such life-threatening burns that he still remains in hospital care. His condition is critical and he will suffer from pain and invalidity for the rest of his life.

It was not until a week after the tragic event that the company allowed the Bolivian authorities into the area for a criminal investigation. When the various authorities and organizations from the Cochabamba province later tried to inspect the oil field, they were denied access to the oil block, while the parties involved denied all responsibility for the event.

Repsol-YPF has threatened to report the Uceida family for “sabotage,” which has terrified Emilio Uceida’s widow, Nicola Uceida, and other family members. The survivors hve never received any form of compensation or pension, despite major economic hardships resulting from the loss. Instead, the oil company built a cement house for them on land that is now worthless and unusable due to contamination.

According to a local informer, the company is still releasing gas into the area and leaks from the exploitation operation are contaminating the land and waterways, making it difficult or impossible for the local population to live off the land and remain self-sufficient. As a result, the villages are economically dependent on the industry, with people becoming indebted slaves. According to the Repsol-mata network and campaign, it is common knowledge that the companies in Chapare make frequent use of indebted slaves, but that it is difficult to prosecute cases legally since the people fear reprisal actions.

Chapare in Bolivia is just one of many oil regions where companies put their agenda ahead of human lives and ecosystems. It is in this context—of an industry whose mafia-like operations terrorize the local population, string along the local authorities, and destroy entire ecosystems—that Skanska operates.

The fact that Skanska has promoted itself as an ethical company appears, in light of this duplicity, as an ironic confirmation of a shameless double standard and hypocrisy. It is also a reminder that marketing concepts such as “Corporate Social Responsibility” and “Green Technology” are not necessarily anchored in reality. Source

 


28 June 2012 Ecuador Has Two Forms of Political Asylum

 

http://www.elcomercio.com/politica/Regimen-interpretacionesopuestas-asilo-politico_0_726527614.html

 

El Comercio (Quito)

The scheme has conflicting interpretations of political asylum

Thursday 28/06/2012

Rafael Correa’s government has different ways of interpreting the figure of the asylum. It is based on who requests it. The first is a critical, when an Ecuadorian citizen seeking asylum in a third country, feeling persecuted politically for his regime. Since last February, six people have applied for such protection, considering that his integrity was at risk against the Correa administration.

The journalist Emilio Palacio and Carlos Perez, director of The Universe, were the first to call for such protection to United States and Panama. They did it on the grounds that Correa lobbied on trial for insulting them, where they received an adverse ruling. By then, the various government spokesmen chose to dismiss both applications. The processing of the Palace is branded as “ridiculous”, while in the case of Perez said that there was no need to issue a pass so he could go from the Embassy of Panama to the airport.

“Government action was shameful and blatant disregard of the conditions of asylum.” That is the criterion of Joffre Campaign, solicitor of The Universe, who notes that in this chapter, the Executive showed “contempt” for the institution of asylum policy.

A similar stance taken by the Government in May. This month, four suppliers of the contracts between the state and firms linked to Fabricio Correa asked for political asylum in Britain, Costa Rica, Chile and Panama. On that occasion, the government not only dismissed the suppliers, but the Foreign Office displayed a diplomatic offensive to block their applications. From the office of Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño contact was made with the various foreign ministries of the countries involved. In these dialogues the Ecuadorian diplomacy explained that suppliers were tried by a criminal offense. The government accuses them of lying, because in its report noted that Correa allegedly did know of his brother’s contracts with the state.

“At that time the Government did not think our human rights, as it says in the case of Julian Assange”. With those words, the seer Paul Chambers questioned the opposite view that the President has asked for asylum against the Director of Wikileaks, a refugee from the previous week at the Embassy in London. In fact, in the case of Assange, the Government has evidenced its second way to interpret the institution of asylum.

In this regard, the President said he will discuss in detail the grounds on which requested protection Assange Ecuador. In addition, he anticipated that the decision whether to grant asylum to journalist who has four demands for sexual offenses in Sweden, is a sovereign decision of Ecuador.

Luis Saavedra, director of the Regional Foundation of Human Rights Advisory, explains that political asylum is a right that people have, to be persecuted in their countries. And while indicating that it is normal that governments seek to stop asylum claims, objected that Ecuador use a tone “angry” and “arrogant” to do when he is accused of persecution, as in the case of suppliers. From the diplomatic notes that it is wrong that the government has different interpretations of political asylum, depending on who you ask.

Ambassador Luis Narvaez stresses that since the state must have a course of action be in line with “the legal and human depth of the topic” in any situation.

 


Chevron-Ecuador:the Timeline 1964-2007

Mar 1964 — March 5, Exploration concession signed; Consortium formed (50% Texas Petroleum 50% Gulf Ecuatoriana)

1972 — Trans-Ecuadorian pipeline completed

Aug 1973 — Presidential Executive Decree gives government full regulatory and supervisory authority over Consortium operations

Jun 1974 — Petroecuador acquires 25% share of the Consortium

Dec 1976 — December 31, Petroecuador acquires Gulf’s remaining share, increasing ownership of the Consortium to 62.5% majority interest

Mar 1986 — March 1, Petroecuador acquires 100% ownership of Trans-Ecuadorian pipeline

Oct 1989 — October 1, Petroecuador takes over operation of pipeline

Jun 1990 — June 30, Petroecuador takes over operation of all other Consortium facilities

Jun 1992 — June 7, Consortium contract expires; Petroecuador acquires 100% ownership of the Consortium

Aug 1993 — August 31, Ecuadorian Plaintiffs file Sequihua class action in Texas

Nov 1993 — November 3, Ecuadorian Plaintiffs file Aguinda class action in New York

Jan 1994 — January 27, Federal district court in Texas dismisses Sequihua; (no appeal filed)

Dec 1994 — December 28, Peruvian Plaintiffs, represented by Aguinda counsel, file Jota class action in New York

May 1995 — May 4, Texaco and the Republic of Ecuador sign a comprehensive Settlement Agreement. TexPet finances remediation, social projects, and medical centers

Jun 1996 — Texaco Petroleum signs Settlement Agreements with four municipalities where Consortium operated

Nov 1996 — November 13, Federal district court in New York dismisses Aguinda unconditionally

Aug 1997 — August 12, Federal district court in New York dismisses Jota unconditionally

Sep 1998 — TexPet receives final approval from Republic of Ecuador, certifying completion of work under Settlement Agreement

Oct 1998 — October 5, Second Circuit remands Aguinda and Jota to District Court for re-consideration, requiring Texaco consent to jurisdiction in Ecuador

Nov 1998 — November 11, Ecuador’s Ambassador to U.S. submits letter to Judge Rakoff refusing to waive sovereign immunity in Aguinda and Jota

Nov 1998 — November 17, At post-remand hearing in the district court, Texaco orally consents to jurisdiction in Ecuador and Peru as to Aguinda and Jota plaintiffs

Jan 1999 — January 11, Texaco files its renewed motions to dismiss in Aguinda and Jota with written consents to jurisdiction in Ecuador and Peru

May 2001 — May 30, Federal District Court in New York (Judge Rakoff) dismisses Aguinda and Jota for the reasons and on the terms suggested by Texaco

Jun 2001 — June 29, Plaintiffs file Notices of Appeal in Aguinda and Jota

Oct 2001 — October 9, Chevron and Texaco complete merger to form ChevronTexaco

Nov 2001 — Aguinda and Jota file appellate briefs in the Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Aug 2002 — August 16, Second Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals upholds U.S. District Court decision to dismiss Aguinda and Jota

May 2003 — May 7, Plaintiffs file lawsuit before Superior Court of Nueva Loja in Lago Agrio, Ecuador

Aug 2003 — A second lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Tena in Tena, Ecuador

Sep 2003 — The Superior Court of Tena rejects the complaint based on failure to meet procedural requirements under Ecuadorian law

2003 — Phase one of the trial begins with agreement by the Court, plaintiffs’ lawyers and Chevron to conduct 122 judicial site inspections at oil field sites

March 2004 — Recognized environmental experts commissioned by Chevron conduct inspections of the sites remediated by TexPet and find no evidence of hydrocarbon contamination. During their inspections, experts observed visible evidence of contamination at locations outside TexPet’s area of responsibility, or that were associated Petroecuador’s operations.

Dec. 2004 — Chevron registers strong protest with the Court – Plaintiffs’ violate court rules on sampling and testing process; Fail to follow most basic scientific procedures; disturbing pattern in plaintiffs’ conduct seen as attempt to mislead the public and distort test results

Jan. 2005 — Scientific tests confirm first four sites inspected by Judge are safe – Laboratory findings verify effectiveness of Texpet’s environmental remediation; TexPet met or exceeded all applicable international evaluation criteria

Feb. 2005 — Experts say health studies promoted by lawyers and activists are flawed, biased and inconclusive

Feb. 2005 — Safety of Remediated Sites Confirmed by six scientific reports; No threat to human health from oil-related contaminants

July 2005 — Scientific Analysis from the Judicial Site Inspections Prove No Risks to Health or the Environment Exist; Drinking Water Highly Contaminated from Human and Animal Waste, Not Petroleum Activities

Oct. 2005 — Plaintiffs’ expert reports show pattern of flaws and distortions; Reports lack credible scientific support to validate claims

Feb. 2006 — Plaintiffs lawyers prevent Judge from inspecting laboratory used to analyze their samples; Chevron suspects problems with laboratory technical capability, competency and credentials

Feb. 2006 — Court’s “Expert Report” on Sacha 53 confirms TexPet’s remediation effective and in compliance with legal standards; No significant risk to human health from remediated site

March 2006 — Dr. Michael Kelsh, a renowned expert on environmental health, informed the Court that health studies promoted by plaintiffs “do not provide evidence that diseases were caused by petroleum.”

March 2006 — Superior Court Judge denied for a second time access to laboratory used by plaintiffs; plaintiffs and laboratory in defiance of Court order

March 2006 — Superior Court Judge denied for a third time access to laboratory used by plaintiffs; plaintiffs and laboratory in defiance of Court order

April 2006 — Official court document proves plaintiffs’ attempt to obstruct justice by misrepresenting information to the Court; Plaintiff’s own technical expert submits declaration to protect himself from plaintiffs’ unethical actions

April 2006 — Expert on indigenous cultures presents Court with demographic studies disproving Plaintiffs’ claims about indigenous populations in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Aug. 2006 — Evidence from two years of judicial site inspections shows no significant health risk from oil in areas remediated by TexPet

Oct. 2006 — For sixth time, Judge is prevented from conducting Judicial Inspection on laboratory used by plaintiffs

Nov. 2006 — World renowned experts find Chevron’s sampling and analysis plan effective, comprehensive and scientifically sound for evaluating oilfield sites; Experts find plaintiffs’ allegations baseless and seriously flawed

April 2007 — Laboratory used by Plaintiffs experts blocked for judicial inspection for 7th time; Clear attempt to obstruct justice

April 2007 — Government of Ecuador officials’ visit oil field sites with plaintiffs’ lawyers and improperly interfere in the judicial process

June 2007 — Chevron challenges Court for appointment of Richard Cabrera as the sole expert in the evidentiary phase for determination of the environmental effects of activities related to the production of hydrocarbons in all the fields operated by Texpet; sites violation of the Court’s 2003 order

July 2007 — Epidemiology experts find serious errors in plaintiffs’ cancer studies; Actual cancer rates lower than claimed by Plaintiffs; Findings published in International Medical Journal

July 2007 — Chevron names highly respected independent observer to help ensure integrity of judicial examination; Action necessary given multiple irregularities systematically committed by expert Cabrera

Aug 7 2007 — Federal Court in San Franciso Dismisses Ecuadorian Cancer Claims Against Chevron As Knowingly False

Aug 20 2007 — Chevron Calls for Recusal of Judge in Ecuador Suit

Sep 3, 2007 — Superior Court Again Blocked in 8th Attempt to Inspect Laboratory used by Plaintiffs’ Experts in Environmental Trial Against Chevron

Sep 19, 2007 — Ecuador Plaintiffs’ Have Provided No Evidence to Support Their Cancer Claims

Sep 13 2007 — Use of Secret, Unapproved Research Teams Further Demonstrates Bias and Lack of Transparency in Ecuador Suit

Source


Chevron wins round one against Ecuador

A recent decision by an international arbitration tribunal, administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, is a setback for Ecuador and for environmentalists that wish to use the international legal system to protect the environment. Ecuador and Chevron, the second largest U.S. oil company, have been engaged in a long-standing dispute about environmental impacts from oil extraction. Experts describe this recent decision as a collateral attack on the original underlying issue. Ecuadorian courts are expected to rule soon on the massive $27 billion dollar suit filed by Ecuador against Chevron, and this most recent decision may be an attempt send a signal to the justices, or prevent enforcement of the judgment.

This most recent case was a suit filed in 2009 by Chevron against Ecuador for violations of its due process rights. It arises out of a complaint factually unrelated to the original $27 billion dollar, but its political and legal ramifications will likely spill over. In the recent arbitration action, Chevron claimed that between 1991 and 1993, Ecuador sold oil intended for domestic consumption on the international market. Chevron alleged that the domestic Ecuadorian courts were delaying ruling on this issue, violating its rights under the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the United States and Ecuador. The arbitration panel found that Ecuador court system did not provide an adequate way to file claims and enforce rights, and it awarded Chevron $700 million.

Ecuador has not accepted this unfavorable turn of events without a fight. It is now exploring options for appeal under its own domestic laws as well international law. President Rafael Correa issued a strong statement condemning Chevron’s actions, “This new effort to compromise the Ecuadorean state in its firm commitment to respect the independence of its judicial system . . .will not succeed.” Investors reacted favorably as a result of this ruling; Chevron stock rose half a percent and recent financial reports paint a rosy picture, with predictions of future profits higher than in the previous financial quarter.

Observers have noted the importance of this arbitration decision, but also point out that it pales in comparison to the original environmental dispute. Ecuadorian citizens living in the Amazon rainforest filed a suit in the United States in 1993 for ill health effects caused by pollution associated with Chevron’s oil drilling in their lands. The original suit involved 76 residents of the Oriente region of Ecuador, who filed on behalf of thousands more. They claimed that the decades of oil exploration and extraction had created “vast devastation”. These cases were dismissed by the American courts and refilled in Ecuador. During the course of the trial in Ecuador, both sides have exchanged claims of wrongdoing and corruption. Some experts believe that Ecuadorian courts will soon rule against Chevron and the company vows to fight any adverse decision.

Chevron’s allegations that the Ecuadorian courts are inadequate strike some observers as curious, because Chevron was originally in favor of moving the trial to Ecuador. The suit was originally filed in New York, but Chevron requested that it be moved to Ecuador. The District court that said, “the well-known congestion of American dockets is undoubtedly greater than that of less litigious societies. Indeed, in terms of engendering inordinate delays, the history of mass tort class litigation in the United States is not such as to inspire confidence.” Because the suit was attempting to enforce the laws of Ecuador, the court understandably believed that those courts would to be superior and described its own efforts as “preposterous.”

The end game for Chevron may not be winning the lawsuit in Ecuador, but avoiding paying damages if it does lose. In winning this most recent BIT arbitration on illegal oil sales, it may be able to prove in U.S. courts that it does not need to pay future claims. Long ago, U.S. courts decided in Hildton v. Guyot that judgments in foreign courts would not be enforceable if there was “prejudice in the court, or in the system of laws under which it was sitting, or fraud in procuring the judgment.” With the precedence set by the arbitration decision, Ecuador is now in a tough position to prove that its courts meet the highest standards. Pepperdine University School professor Roger Alford described the current situation, “The Ecuadorian court now faces the unpleasant prospect of knowing that the Ecuadorian government may be on the hook financially for any improper judgment rendered against Chevron.”

Countries throughout the world could benefit from an Ecuadorian victory by launching their own legal actions modeled after this one. However, this recent victory by Chevron seems to cast the viability of this option in doubt.Source


The Banana File Part III: Colombia

Colombia

Chiquita has used a similar trust structure since 1992 in Colombia,
according to company sources and documents.

A March 27, 1992, internal memo from Chiquita lawyer David Hills to
company officials described how then existing and new farm companies
in Colombia would be “restructured” using newly created trusts in
Liechtenstein.

“All companies (except Compania Frutera de Sevilla) will be 100%
foreign- owned through combinations of Liechtenstein anstalts,” the
Hills memo said, referring to the trusts. The memo noted that existing
companies controlled by Chiquita through “nominee shareholders” would
have their shares transferred to one of the foreign trusts.

“To avoid affiliation for labor union purposes, no two companies will
have the same majority (trust) shareholder,” Mr. Hills wrote.

The names of Chiquita’s then-newly created Colombian farm companies
included El Porvenir S.A., La Finca S.A., Zungo, La Gurita S.A., El
Retiro, and La Marfranca S.A., according to company records.

Guatemala

In Guatemala, Chiquita’s secret banana operations are run by a farm
management company subsidiary called COBIGUA, according to company
records.

For example, one Chiquita -controlled farm is called Chinook. COBIGUA
manages Chinook’s operations, as well as other farms.

Chiquita officials repeatedly refused to answer Enquirer questions
about whether the company owns COBIGUA.

However, in an Oct. 11, 1997 voice-mail message by Chiquita lawyer
David Hills to another Chiquita lawyer, Joel Raymer, Mr. Hills said:
“Joel, one of the issues that’s come up in this Enquirer story is they
are asking for what Chiquita’s position is on the stalled labor
negotiations in Guatemala at our company-owned subsidiary COBIGUA.

“Our strategy is to answer that, first of all, that COBIGUA is not our
subsidiary, it’s just one of our (independent) associate producers –
wink, wink – because we have to take that position publicly. We cannot
possibly admit that COBIGUA is our subsidiary.”

Ecuador

Chiquita also used the trust structure to set up supposedly
independent banana farm companies in Ecuador. A March 1992 internal
company report reveals that Chiquita wanted to hide its control of
those companies.

Written by Chiquita financial analyst Paul M. White, the report
described the company’s rationale for restructuring its Ecuadoran
operations and the company officials’ belief that it complied with
Ecuadoran law.

“CBI ( Chiquita Brands International) prefers that some of its
Ecuadoran operations remain anonymous in order to facilitate
relationships with unions, governments and suppliers. By giving the
perception of Cartonera Andina being independent, for example, CBI is
able to reduce costs, and maintain improved relationships with the
above groups.

“Union negotiations. By having more companies, and thus more unions,
CBI is able to reduce its exposure to strikes and increase its
bargaining position,” the White report stated.

A Feb. 28, 1992, internal memo from Chiquita lawyer David Hills to
company officials also described how the company’s Ecuadorean
operations would be restructured under foreign trusts in
Liechtenstein, in part, to help prevent labor unions from organizing
on farms run by the newly created companies.

“To avoid affiliation for labor union purposes, no two companies will
have the same majority (trust) shareholder,” the Hills Ecuadoran memo
said. “The service and export companies will not have shareholders in
common with each other or with the farmcos (farm companies).”

The restructuring outlined in Mr.Hills’ memo never became fully
operational because there was a glut of bananas in the European market
and prices plummeted in 1992, forcing the banana company to halt its
expansion plans in that country at that time, according to company
sources.

Chiquita’s secret international trust structure

” Chiquita International Limited (CIL) The new managed farms are being
set up as a trust under CIL because they are easier to setup and
manage and provide greater confidentiality than the nominee
structure. Under the Honduran law, shares given in trust to a Honduran
bank are considered owned by the bank. There is no need to have and
keep track of 5 Hounduran nominees.”

“All companies (except Compania Frutera de Sevilla, “CFS”) will be
100% foreign-owned through combinations of Liechtenstein Anstalts.”

“Using more than one bank in Honduras and more than one country to
establish the offshore trusts further obfuscates the ownership of the
farms.”

Chiquita trust structure

Block by block

1. Chiquita Brands International Inc.

Company officials decide to create an international trust structure to
allow them to acquire and control additional land in Honduras.

2. Chiquita International Ltd. – Chiquita International Trading Co.

The Chiquita subsidiaries selected by company officials to control
decisions of overseas trusts.

3. Liechtenstein – Channel Islands trusts

Overseas trusts, such as King’s Mill, created for the benefit of
Chiquita subsidiaries to control decisions of Honduran trusts.

4. Honduran trusts

With Honduran banks as trustees, these trusts become the major
shareholders of newly created farm companies.

5. Honduran farms companies

These companies acquire Honduran farm land for Chiquita.

(Copyright 1998)

———————————————————————
Chiquita SECRETS Revealed; Environment; “At first we had thought it
could be the solvent that people were smelling, but approximately 16
to 17 samples were taken outside of the plant for chlorpyrifos and
15 of them turned up positive in fairly high quantities.” – Roger
Theodoredis, Chiquita executive assigned to investigate the Polymer
Plastipak problems; Smokestack emits toxins; ‘We cry for our
children’

Publication: Cincinnati Enquirer
Date: May 3, 1998
By: MIKE GALLAGHER AND CAMERON MCWHIRTER
———————————————————————

A Chiquita subsidiary is exposing more than 500 men, women and
children of Barrio Paris to a toxic chemical that the company knows
is spewing from a San Jose factory smokestack in high quantities,
internal company records reveal.

Chiquita officials in Cincinnati have been aware of the problem for
several months, but their efforts to solve it have been
unsuccessful, according to company sources and internal voice-mail
messages provided the Enquirer by a high-level company source.

The plant manufactures plastic bags impregnated with a pesticide
called chlorpyrifos. The bags are used to cover bananas ripening on
plants to protect them from insects. Community leaders and neighbors
in Barrio Paris have complained to the national health ministry that
fumes have caused residents – including children and pregnant women
– to suffer chronic respiratory problems, blistered skin and other
serious ailments.

The U.S. EPA classifies chlorpyrifos as a highly-toxic pesticide
that is dangerous to humans if inhaled or if it comes into contact
with skin for a protracted period of time. According to the EPA,
universities and chemical manufacturers, chlorpyrifos can cause
delayed nerve damage, multiple sclerosis, loss of use of limbs, lung
congestion, paralysis, convulsions, dizziness, mental disorders,
blurred vision, chest pain, loss of reflexes and death.

For years plant officials of the Chiquita subsidiary, Polymer
Plastipak, have denied those claims to Costa Rican health officials,
according to more than a dozen letters from company officials and
lawyers sent to the Ministry of Health since 1992. The company has
conceded only that the plant emits a “bad odor.”

Despite company claims that the fumes are harmless, a 1997 Costa
Rican national laboratory report asserted that the company
repeatedly failed to conduct government-mandated air tests to
determine whether the plant is discharging the pesticide into the
atmosphere and causing health problems for nearby residents.

The report, translated for the Enquirer, also stated that the
company’s use of chlorpyrifos results in “high risk for … health
of the neighbors.”

“It is proven that extended exposure to this pesticide (especially
children and pregnant women)produces health problems to people,” the
report said.

The March 20, 1997, report was prepared by Defensoria de Los
Habitantes, a Costa Rican congressional agency created to ensure
that other government departments protect citizens on health,
environmental, and other issues.

Testing at the plant, conducted by Chiquita after the Enquirer began
questioning company officials about the problem, revealed high
quantities of chlorpyrifos were being spewed into the air through
the plant’s smokestack. The pesticide also is being released inside
the plant and into the atmosphere where the bags are cut and
separated, the Enquirer has learned.

In an Oct. 3, 1997 voice-mail message to Robert Olson, Chiquita’s
chief counsel in Cincinnati, Roger Theodoredis, a company executive
in Cincinnati assigned to investigate the Polymer problems,
confirmed that Polymer Plastipak was emitting chlorpyrifos into the
atmosphere in “high quantities.”

“At first we had thought it could be the solvent that people were
smelling, but approximately 16 to 17 samples were taken outside of
the plant for chlorpyrifos and 15 of them turned up positive in
fairly high quantities,” Mr. Theodoredis said in the message.

“I wanted to alert you to that. There appear to be two sources of
chlorpyrifos getting out into the atmosphere. One is the smokestack
which is part of the process. That is when the bags are formed in
the extrusion process; heated exhaust air goes up the stack and
apparently there is chlorpyrifos going up the stack.

“The second, unexpected source of chlorpyrifos is taking place in
another room of the factory in which the bags are cut. That cutting
of the bags is causing chlorpyrifos to be emitted,” he added.

A tape recording of the voice-mail message was provided to the
Enquirer by a company source who asked not to be identified because
of fear of retribution. In the message, Mr. Theodoredis also told
Mr. Olson of the long-standing problems between Polymer Plastipak
and the Costa Rican Ministry of Health over the toxic fumes issue.

“There is a history of contention between the plant and the Ministry
of Health. On August 8th, for example, the Ministry of Health shut
down the Polymer (Plastipak) plant for about 12 hours due to the
smell issue. Currently the plant is working under a temporary
suspension of that shutdown order.”

Chiquita denied to the Enquirer that there is any threat to nearby
residents. In a statement issued through its lawyers, Chiquita made
no reference to any concerns about chlorpyrifos levels it or the
government may have had about Polymer:

“Investigation by Chiquita and independent consultants (hired by the
company) confirms that the Plastipak plant does not pose a threat to
the surrounding community. Any concentrations of chlorpyrifos
measured at the surrounding residences fall well within the Average
Acceptable Ambient Air Concentrations used in the United States.”

Chiquita did not respond to Enquirer requests to provide the
newspaper with copies of its complete Polymer test results.

Additionally, the letter said: “Any concentrations of pesticides
within the plant pose no health threat to workers.”

Chiquita officials refused to provide the Enquirer with any written
test results, reports or findings of its independent consultants who
performed the tests on the plant’s emissions.

And according to Defensoria and Health Ministry officials, neither
Chiquita nor its Plastipak company executives have submitted the
written findings of its consultants’ plant emission testings to them
for review.

Residents of Barrio Paris described for the Enquirer health problems
they attribute to the Polymer Plastipak plant and their fears for
their children’s health.

“We have a very huge problem here,” Blanca Brenes Morales, 62,
president of the Barrio Paris Neighborhood Association, said through
a translator. “They (Polymer) use a chemical that goes right up into
the air and we breathe it. All of us knew when we moved here that
we would live in an industrial area, but no one, not even the
government, knew or agreed that they could poison us with their
chemicals.”

Ms. Brenes said that whenever the fumes become heavy in the air, she
calls Polymer plant officials.

“They always tell me they are just changing their filters,” she
said.

She said most of her fears center around the children in the
neighborhood. “We don’t really know how this poison will affect us
in the future. We cry for our children.”

Ms. Brenes said she and many other residents of Barrio Paris are too
poor to leave their homes and wouldn’t be able to find comparable,
affordable housing elsewhere.

Criticisms in Defensoria’s report were not only aimed only at
Polymer Plastipak.

Defensoria repeatedly criticized offices of the Costa Rican
government’s own Health Ministry for failing to conduct needed blood
tests of the Barrio Paris residents to monitor the harmful effects
of the chlorpyrifos.

In 1993 the Health Ministry did take blood samples from the
residents after repeated complaints that fumes from the Polymer
Plastipak plant were making people ill. But necessary follow-up
tests to confirm the levels of pesticide in the residents’
bloodstreams never were taken because health ministry officials
cited a lack of manpower, according to the Defensoria report.

Polymer Plastipak officials in Costa Rica declined requests for
interviews from Enquirer reporters.

Since the 12-hour shutdown in August, Polymer and Chiquita officials
have failed to provide the Health Ministry any documented proof of
“substantive changes to either the mixture or its filtration system
that would prevent further harm to the company’s own workers or the
residents who live near there,” said Rodrigo Alberto Carazo, a
director in Defensoria.

Mr. Carazo said that Polymer officials have for years not only
denied toxic fumes were affecting workers at the plant or nearby
residents, but also that the “non-harmful smell problem had not been
contained because of ongoing problems with a plant filtration
system.”

“That has been their excuse for many, many years,” said Mr. Carazo.
“We’ve been receiving letters like that since at least 1993 or
1994.”

Plastipak’s letters hold little sway with Gerardo Campos Cartin, 48,
who cites his own doctor’s findings that he has been contaminated by
chlorpyrifos. Chiquita’s plant in Barrio Paris is the only company
in that section of the city using chlorpyrifos, according to Health
Ministry records.

Walking out to a children’s playground located directly behind the
Polymer plant, Mr. Campos talked of a respiratory disease he said
his doctor has linked to the plant’s poisonous fumes.

“It is so bad that many times I cannot breathe without help (from
drugs or a respirator)”, Mr. Campos said through a translator. “When
the factory is running and the smokestack belches out those fumes, I
must run inside my house and hide under my bed. If I smell (the
fumes) at all I begin choking. My skin also turns red with rashes
and I become so sick I sometimes want to die.”

But Mr. Campos said his greatest fear is for Barrio Paris’ children.

“Look at this playground right here by the plant,” he said, pointing
to the swing set, teeter-totter, climbing bars and small basketball
court. “All the children play here. They have no place else to go.”

In another development, the Enquirer also has learned from company
sources that Chiquita plans to sell its Polymer operations. When
asked through its attorneys about the plans, Chiquita officials did
not respond.

In internal company voice-mail messages obtained by the Enquirer
from a high-level company source, several Chiquita executives and
lawyers discuss plans to sell its Polymer operations, including the
Plastipak plant in Costa Rica.

“We don’t really know how this poison will affect us in the future.”
– Blanca Brenes Morales, 62

(Copyright 1998)


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