History of Ecuador Banana Production and Exports
Ecuador entered the banana trade in 1910.1 The country did not become a significant exporter of bananas in the world market, however, until after World War II when Ecuador turned to bananas to fill the void left by the 1920 collapse of its cacao industry.2 The postwar banana boom began in 1948, when then-President Galo Plaza initiated a program to foster banana industry development that included government agricultural credits, construction of ports and a coastal highway, price regulation, and disease control assistance.3 Government support for the banana industry did not exist to the same extent in Central America, the dominant Latin American banana-producing region in the prewar years. Such government support, combined with favorable environmental factors-such as the absence of hurricanes, cyclones, and disease, all common in Central America-and banana worker wages significantly lower than in Central America, helped Ecuador become the world's largest banana exporter by 1952. 4 By 1964, Ecuador supplied 25 percent of the world's bananas-more than all Central American banana-producing countries combined.5
Due largely to the significant government investment in the banana industry, small and medium-sized local producers were able to enter the industry in Ecuador between the late 1940s and early 1960s.6 Though to a lesser extent than in Central America, multinational corporations were also directly invested in banana-producing land in Ecuador during this period. Most notably, in 1934, the United Fruit Company, later to become Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (Chiquita), purchased plantation Tenguel,7 an estimated 3,071 hectares (7,677.5 acres) of banana-producing land that alone accounted for approximately 6 percent of Ecuador's banana exports.8
As occurred on many other plantations, however, Tenguel's banana plants fell victim to the Panama disease, a devastating fungal infection that appeared in Ecuador in the late 1950s. By 1960, most of the plants had been destroyed. United Fruit dismissed hundreds of workers, cut wages, and eliminated previously provided services. Frustrated workers formed a workers' organization and, later, realizing that little hope remained for future employment under similar conditions, formed a cooperative-an organization responding to the growing peasant agrarian reform movement. On March 27, 1962, the workers invaded Tenguel and seized the land. The state intervened, and United Fruit Company abandoned the zone. Tenguel's downfall was part of a process of contentious agrarian reform, beginning in Ecuador in the 1960s and lasting roughly a decade, that resulted in state-sponsored fragmentation of the large, often unionized, banana plantations owned by multinational corporations into smaller non-union plantations owned by local producers.9
Though major factors, agrarian reform and the arrival of the Panama disease were not the only forces behind the flight of foreign banana corporations from Ecuador in the early and mid-1960s. The Cavendish, a new variety of banana, more efficient to produce and more hurricane- and disease-resistant, began replacing other varieties in Central America,10 effectively negating Ecuador's comparative advantage.11 Ecuador became a reserve rather than principal supplier, and both those multinational corporations directly owning land and those purchasing bananas from local suppliers either disappeared from or significantly reduced their participation in the Ecuadorian market. The United Fruit Company, for example, by 1965, no longer directly owned any land in Ecuador and only sporadically purchased fruit to cover shortfalls. The Standard Fruit Company, later Dole Food Company, Inc. (Dole), was the exception-not owning land directly but never letting its share of Ecuador's international banana market fall below 15 percent.12
Ecuador did not fully recover from this crisis until the mid-1970s, when the Standard Fruit Company and Del Monte Fresh Produce Company (Del Monte) decided to make the nation a primary supplier. A variety of factors allegedly contributed to the shift back to Ecuador, including an outbreak of Sigatoka Negra, a costly banana disease, in Central America and Colombia; an export tax levied by the Union of Banana Exporting Countries, which included all significant Latin American banana exporters, minus Ecuador; political unrest in Central America; and heightened union activity in Central America, contributing to a general rise in workers' wages between 1973 and 1976.13
Ecuador Banana Production and Exports Today
In contrast to other Latin American banana-producing countries, where multinational corporations directly own approximately 60 percent of banana-producing land,14 the world's three largest multinational banana corporations-Chiquita, Dole, and Del Monte-still do not own any significant expanse of land in Ecuador. Of these three corporations, only Dole directly owns land-2,000 acres.15 Thus, their land holdings total only approximately 1 percent of the approximately 147,909 hectares (369,773 acres) of banana-producing land registered with Ecuador's Ministry of Agriculture and Cattle Raising (Ministry of Agriculture).16 Instead, these corporations obtain bananas through a variety of contract arrangements with third-party producers, ranging from exclusive associate producer relationships to sporadic contracts executed to satisfy specific shipment orders. As has historically been the case in Ecuador, these third-party producers range from small, family-owned and -operated plantations of a few acres to medium-sized plots of land to large plantations of more than a thousand acres.17
Approximately 99 percent of banana-producing land in Ecuador is concentrated in three provinces in the lowlands of the Pacific coast-El Oro, Guayas, and Los Ríos-where the humid, tropical climate combined with rich soil makes the region ideal for this purpose.18 The three provinces cover roughly 32,790 square kilometers (some 13,116 square miles), approximately 12 percent of Ecuador's territory, and are home to around 3.4 million people, over a quarter of Ecuador's total population.19 Excluding residents of Guayaquil, Ecuador's largest city, over one third of those living in the three provinces reside in rural areas,20 where they work on plantations producing not only bananas but a variety of other crops, including coffee, cocoa beans, sugarcane, rice, and tropical fruits. Conservative estimates suggest that between roughly 120,000 and 148,000 Ecuadorians labor in the country's banana fields and packing plants.21
Unlike most other agricultural products grown in Ecuador, bananas are harvested year-round, usually weekly. Therefore, the myriad tasks performed during the banana production process-beginning when a banana plant sprouts from the root where its parent plant was cut and ending approximately one year later when its fruit is harvested and loaded onto a truck-also usually occur on a weekly basis throughout the year.22 In the field, banana workers' tasks include weed cutting, applying weed and worm killer, weaving long plastics among bananas to prevent them from damaging each other, covering bananas with insecticide-treated plastic bags, tying insecticide-treated plastic strips around plant stalks, cutting yellowed banana leaves, tying plants to each other or propping them up with wooden poles to ensure stability, tying colored strips around plant stalks to indicate growth phases and monitoring these phases, harvesting fruit-laden stalks and transporting them to the packing plant, and cutting the remaining stems after harvest. In a packing plant-usually nothing more than a shelter with a cement or dirt floor, a roof, and no walls-banana workers, often laboring in small work teams, prepare the fruit for shipment. This preparation process usually lasts between two and four days, depending on the size of the plantation and packing plant. Like field workers, packing plant workers are often assigned discrete tasks, which include removal of plastics from the harvested banana stalks, picking flower remains off the fruit, cutting bananas from their stalks, making banana clusters, discarding bananas that do not meet company standards, washing and weighing the fruit, sticking company labels on each banana cluster, applying post-harvest pesticides, boxing the fruit, loading the boxes onto a truck, and discarding waste from the banana production process.
Today, Ecuador is the world's largest banana exporter. In 2000, the most recent year for which total world-wide banana export figures are available, Ecuador exported 3,993,968 metric tons of the world's 14,155,222 total metric tons of banana exports-approximately 28 percent.23 Bananas are Ecuador's second most important export commodity, following only crude oil, and yield roughly U.S. $900 million annually for the country, accounting for over a quarter of all revenue obtained from trade and approximately 5 percent of Ecuador's gross domestic product.24 The export bananas are primarily destined for the United States, which in 2000 imported approximately 24 percent of all Ecuadorian banana exports, and the European Union, which in 2000 imported approximately 17 percent.25
In 2000, the two leading Ecuadorian banana-exporting corporations-Exportadora Bananera Noboa, S.A. (Noboa), and Rey Banano del Pacífico, C.A. (Reybanpac), the banana-exporting subsidiary of Holding Favorita Fruit Company, Ltd. (Favorita),-grossed approximately U.S. $164.4 million and U.S. $91.3 million respectively.26 But the combined income of two employed adult banana workers may not be enough to sustain a family. The legal minimum wage for a banana worker in Ecuador working a five-day week is U.S. $117 per month or U.S. $5.85 per day,27 and the law requires all employers to affiliate workers with Ecuador's Social Security Institute, providing public health insurance.28 Nonetheless, the average wage of the twenty adult workers who provided Human Rights Watch with their daily wage information was approximately U.S. $5.44, and the vast majority of the workers stated that they were uninsured.29 Furthermore, according to Minister of Labor Martín Insua, the basic market basket-the cost of food plus other basic needs-for households in rural Ecuador is approximately U.S. $288 per month.30 Therefore, in the banana industry, the wages of two working and fully paid adults may not be sufficient to provide for their family, in which case, the added salary of a child may be sought to supplement the family's income. Human Rights Watch found, however, that the majority of children earn even less than adult banana workers. The average daily wage for the forty children who provided Human Rights Watch with their wage information was U.S. $3.50, only 60 percent of the legal minimum wage for banana workers.31
According to the National Corporation of Banana Producers (CONABAN), the following corporations are consistently among the top three banana exporters in Ecuador: Noboa; the Unión de Bananeros Ecuatorianos, S.A. (UBESA), an Ecuadorian subsidiary of Dole; and Reybanpac. In 1999, these three accounted for approximately 56 percent of Ecuador's exports and in 2000, approximately 43 percent.32 CONABAN data indicate that in 1999, roughly 32 percent and in 2000, approximately 31 percent of Dole's export bananas were supplied by Ecuadorian plantations.33
In addition to these corporations, workers with whom Human Rights Watch spoke recounted seeing the brand-name stickers of a number of others adorning the bananas on the plantations where they worked. The two other names most commonly mentioned were Chiquita, represented in Ecuador by its local subsidiary, Brundicorpi, S.A., and Del Monte, represented in Ecuador by its local subsidiary, Bandecua, S.A. Del Monte was the fifth-largest exporter of Ecuadorian bananas in both 1999 and 2000, receiving roughly 14 percent of its export bananas from Ecuador in 1999 and 13 percent in 2000, while Chiquita was the fourth-largest in 1999 and sixth-largest in 2000, receiving approximately 17 percent of its export bananas from Ecuador in 1999 but only 7 percent in 2000.34 In 1999, these five corporations exported approximately 73 percent of all banana exports from Ecuador and in 2000, approximately 52 percent.35
The vast majority of the bananas exported by these corporations, however, are not grown on directly owned corporate land, but instead are obtained from third-party suppliers. Chiquita and Del Monte receive 100 percent of their Ecuadorian bananas from third-party suppliers, Dole approximately 98 percent, Noboa between 70 and 80 percent, and Favorita approximately 56 percent.36 These corporations all have primary suppliers from which they purchase regularly and with which they have close affiliations-as indicated by large signs by the roadside bearing the plantations' names along with corporate logos-and sporadic suppliers from which they purchase occasionally, in most cases, only to fill shipment orders not fully met by the regular suppliers.
Human Rights Watch interviewed forty-five children who had worked or were working on twenty-five different banana plantations in Ecuador-twenty-three in Guayas province and two in El Oro province.37 Of those twenty-five, sixteen reportedly produce primarily and almost exclusively for Dole and four primarily and almost exclusively for Noboa.38 Noboa did not respond to Human Rights Watch's letters seeking to confirm the companies' contractual relationships with these plantations, and Dole refused to confirm or deny its relationships, asserting, "Dole's contractual relationship with its suppliers, the plantations and/or producers with whom Dole has or may have had a relationship is proprietary business information, which Dole does not publicly disclose."39
Although none of the twenty-five plantations produces primarily for Chiquita, Del Monte, or Favorita, according to both adult and child banana workers, seventeen occasionally supplied Del Monte, two occasionally supplied Favorita, and fourteen occasionally supplied Chiquita during the years that the children worked there.40 In a letter to Human Rights Watch, however, Chiquita asserted that during the years in question-1995 through the present-it purchased bananas from only two of these fourteen plantations and denied that it purchased any fruit from the plantations in 2000 and 2001.41 Although Human Rights Watch also sent letters to Del Monte and Favorita inquiring whether the companies had purchased fruit from those plantations on which workers reportedly saw banana stickers with the companies' logos, Del Monte failed to respond and Favorita responded without confirming or denying the contractual relationships.42
Correspondingly, of the forty-five children with whom Human Rights Watch spoke, thirty-two stated that, at some time during their short careers, they had worked on plantations primarily supplying Dole and an additional three on plantations that one or more workers alleged occasionally supplied Dole; ten on plantations primarily supplying Noboa and an additional twenty-four on plantations that one or more workers alleged occasionally supplied Noboa; thirty-eight on plantations that one or more workers alleged occasionally supplied Del Monte; fourteen on plantations that one or more workers alleged occasionally supplied Favorita; and thirty-three on plantations that one or more workers alleged occasionally supplied Chiquita. Nonetheless, according to the information provided by Chiquita to Human Rights Watch, Chiquita bought bananas from plantations that Human Rights Watch determined employed four of those thirty-three children at the time of Chiquita's purchases.43
1 Julian Roche, The International Banana Trade (Cambridge, England: Woodhead Publishing Limited, 1998), p. 170.
2 Banco Central del Ecuador, El Ecuador de la Postguerra: Estudios en Homenaje a Guillermo Pérez Chiriboga [Post-War Ecuador: Studies in Honor of Guillermo Pérez Chiriboga] (Quito: Banco Central del Ecuador, 1992), p. 151; Carlos Larrea Maldonado, "Los Cambios Recientes en el Subsistema Bananero Ecuatoriano y sus Consecuencias Sobre los Trabajadores: 1977-1984" ["Recent Changes in the Ecuadorian Banana Subsystem and its Consequences for Workers: 1977-1984"], in Cambio y Continuidad en la Economía Bananera [Change and Continuity in the Banana Economy] (San José, Costa Rica: Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO), Centro de Estudios Democráticos de América Latina, 1988), p. 165.
3 Banco Central del Ecuador, El Ecuador de la Postguerra: . . . , p. 186.
4 In 1969, wages of banana workers in Ecuador were said to be 42 percent lower than wages of Central American banana workers. Ibid., p. 180.
5 Carlos Larrea Maldonado, ed., El Banano en el Ecuador: Transnacionales, Modernización y Subdesarrollo [The Banana in Ecuador: Transnationals, Modernization and Underdevelopment] (Quito: Corporación Editora Nacional, 1987), p. 45.
6 Banco Central del Ecuador, El Ecuador de la Postguerra: . . . , pp. 176-177, 186-187.
7 Steven Striffler, "Wedded to Work: Class Struggles and Gendered Identities in the Restructuring of the Ecuadorian Banana Industry," 6(1) Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 91 (1999), pp. 92, 96.
8 Larrea Maldonado, ed., El Banano en el Ecuador: . . . , p. 116.
9 Striffler, "Wedded to Work: . . . ," p. 102-106.
10 Larrea Maldonado, ed., El Banano en el Ecuador: . . . , p. 156-157.
11 Ibid., p. 156; Larrea Maldonado, "Los Cambios Recientes en el Subsistema Bananero Ecuatoriano y sus Consecuencias Sobre los Trabajadores . . . ," p. 165.
12 Larrea Maldonado, ed., El Banano en el Ecuador: . . . , p. 75.
13 Ibid., pp. 76, 80; Larrea Maldonado, "Los Cambios Recientes en el Subsistema Bananero Ecuatoriano y sus Consecuencias Sobre los Trabajadores . . . ," pp. 81, 172; David Glover and Carlos Larrea Maldonado, "Changing Comparative Advantage, Short Term Instability and Long Term Change in the Latin American Banana Industry," 16 Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies 91 (1991), p. 96.
14 Roche, The International Banana Trade . . . , p. 117.
15 Dole Food Company, Inc., "Form 10-K: Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the Fiscal Year Ended December 30, 2000," filed March 31, 2001, p. 7.
16 Ministry of Agriculture, Banana Unit, "Catastro de Productores a Diciembre 2000" ["Registry of Producers to December 2000"], May 2001. Although the Ministry of Agriculture had 5,983 "producers" registered in 2000, Human Rights Watch believes that, in practice, the data reflect the number of banana-producing plantations, not producers or owners, as many of these "producers" appear numerous times in the Ministry of Agriculture's list. Furthermore, according to the National Corporation of Banana Producers (CONABAN), there were 4,800 banana "producers" in 2000. CONABAN-Ecuador, "La Industria Bananera: Perfil del sector productor bananero" ["The Banana Industry: Profile of the banana producer sector"], May 2001, pp. 7, 9.
17 Human Rights Watch did not interview any workers laboring on these family-run plantations but, instead, focused its investigation on medium-size and larger plantations. According to Minister of Labor and Human Resources (Minister of Labor) Martín Insua, plantations under thirty hectares (approximately seventy-five acres) are categorized as small, between thirty and sixty hectares (approximately seventy-five acres and 150 acres) as medium, and over sixty hectares (approximately 150 acres) as large. Human Rights Watch interview, Minister of Labor Martín Insua, Quito, May 23, 2001. Human Rights Watch was able to ascertain the approximate number of hectares of sixteen of the twenty-five plantations on which the children interviewed for this report labored. Of those sixteen, fifteen would be classified as large plantations according to the minister's criteria.
18 Ministry of Agriculture, Banana Unit, "Catastro de Productores a Diciembre 2000."
19 The Embassy of Ecuador. (No date). General Information. [Online]. Available: http://www.embajada-ecuador.se/Info.html [August 20, 2001]; Ecuador on Line. (1999). Provincia El Oro. [Online]. Available: http://www.explored.com.ec/ecuador/oro.html [June 29, 2001]; Ecuador on Line. (1999). Provincia Guayas. [Online]. Available: http://www.explored.com.ec/ecuador/guayas.html [June 29, 2001]; Ecuador on Line. (1999). Provincia Los Ríos. [Online]. Available: http://www.explored.com.ec/ecuador/ rios.html [June 29, 2001].
20 Ecuador on Line. (1999). Provincia El Oro. [Online]; Ecuador on Line. (1999). Provincia Guayas. [Online]; Ecuador on Line. (1999). Provincia Los Ríos. [Online].
21 There are approximately 147,909 hectares (roughly 369,773 acres) of banana plantations in Ecuador. Ministry of Agriculture, Banana Unit, "Catastro de Productores a Diciembre 2000." After consulting various sources, including government officials and banana corporation representatives, Human Rights Watch learned that a conservative estimate of the ratio of banana workers to plantation hectares is approximately 0.8 to 1, though the ratio may vary depending on various factors, including the technological capacity of a plantation. Human Rights Watch used this ratio to calculate that there are roughly between 120,000 and 148,000 banana workers in Ecuador, understanding "banana worker" as any packing plant or field workers directly involved in the production of bananas.
22 Human Rights Watch interview, Andrés Arrata, general manager, CONABAN, Guayaquil, May 18, 2001; Banana World. (February 20, 2001). The fascinating story of the banana. [Online]. Available: http://home.t-online.de/home/schulz.thomas/story-e.html [August 25, 2001].
23 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). (No date). Bananas Exports-Qty (Mt), 2000. [Online]. Available: http://apps1.fao.org [March 12, 2002]. Ecuador was followed by Costa Rica, Colombia, and the Philippines. According to data provided by CONABAN, Ecuador exported 4,543,556 metric tons of bananas from January through November 2000. CONABAN-Ecuador, "La Industria Bananera: . . . ," p. 12. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, however, Ecuador exported 4,443,069 metric tons of bananas in 2000. Ministry of Agriculture, Banana Unit, "Detalle de Cajas de Banano Exportadas Durante el Año 2000 por País del Destino" ["Detail of Boxes of Banana Exported During the Year 2000 by Country of Destination"].
24 CONABAN-Ecuador, "La Industria Bananera: . . . ," p. 16; The Embassy of Ecuador. (No date). General Information. [Online]; International Monetary Fund (IMF). (May 19, 2000). Address by Stanley Fischer. [Online]. Available: http://www.imf.org/external/np/ speeches/200/051900.htm [August 25, 2001]; The World Bank Group. (July 2000). Ecuador Data Profile. [Online]. Available: http://devdata.worldbank.org [September 8, 2001].
25 Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Robert Miller, economist, Horticultural and Tropical Products Division, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Washington, DC, July 24, 2001.
26 CONABAN-Ecuador, "La Industria Bananera: . . . ," pp. 16, 22, 24.
27 Ministry of Labor, Official Registry No. 242 (January 11, 2001).
28 Labor Code, Article 42(31).
29 Similarly, the IMF has noted that in Ecuador, "[e]nforcement of minimum wages is weak." IMF, "Ecuador: Selected Issues and Statistical Annex," IMF Staff Country Report No. 00/125 (October 2000), p. 57.
30 Human Rights Watch interview, Minister of Labor Martín Insua.
31 Although some workers, both adults and children, reported earning wages on a piece-rate basis, most explained that they were paid a flat rate per day, regardless of production rate or hours worked.
32 CONABAN-Ecuador, "La Industria Bananera: . . . ," pp. 14, 22, 24.
33 Ibid., pp. 22, 24.
34 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Ricardo Flores, general manager, Brundicorpi, S.A., Guayaquil, July 27, 2001.
35 CONABAN-Ecuador, "La Industria Bananera: . . . ," pp. 22, 24. According to CONABAN's data, Chiquita's exports from Ecuador fell 58 percent in 2000.
36 Human Rights Watch interview, Ricardo Flores, Guayaquil, May 24, 2001; Human Rights Watch interview, Marco García, general manager, Bandecua, S.A., Guayaquil, May 24, 2001; Human Rights Watch telephone interview, José Anchundia, director of human resources, UBESA, S.A., Guayaquil, July 10, 2001; Human Rights Watch interview, Francisco Chávez, director of human resources, Noboa, S.A., Guayaquil, May 24, 2001; Human Rights Watch interview, Vicente Wong, executive vice president, Favorita, Ltd., Guayaquil, May 21, 2001; Banana Link. (June 2001). Noboa. [Online]. Available: http://www.banalink.org.uk/companies/noboa.htm [July 21, 2001].
37 Human Rights Watch follows the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child in defining as a child "every human being under the age of eighteen unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier." Convention on the Rights of the Child, G.A. Res. 44/25, Annex, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49) at 167, U.N. Doc. A/44/49, November 20, 1989, Article 1.
38 In some cases, Human Rights Watch observed a sign containing both the corporate logo and the plantation name, strongly suggesting a plantation's primary corporate exporter. This was the case for the following plantations in the canton of Balao in Guayas province that signage strongly suggests produce primarily for Dole: San Fernando, San Alejandro, San Gabriel, and San José, all of the Las Fincas plantation group; Pachina; Porvenir; San José owned by Krapp, S.A.; and San José owned by Parazul, S.A. This was also the case for plantation Sociedad Predio Rústico Agrícola Italia in the canton of Balao, which signage strongly suggests produces primarily for Noboa. In other cases, Human Rights Watch relied on the testimony of current and former workers, adults and children, to ascertain a plantation's primary exporter, as is the case with the following plantations that, according to workers, produce primarily for Dole: Recreo in the canton of Naranjal in Guayas province; Predio Rústico La Rural, C.A., or "Pileta," in Balao; Luz Belén in Balao; Italia in Balao; Frutos Bellos, C.A., or "La María," in Balao; El Gran Chaparral in Balao; "Chanique" in Balao; and Balao Chico in Balao. This was also the case for the following plantations in Balao that workers claimed produce primarily for Noboa: Colón, "Paladines," and San Carlos. Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Dole on July 13, 2001 and to Noboa on September 5, 2001 to confirm that these plantations are among their primary suppliers. Noboa did not respond, and Dole asserted that such information is "proprietary business information, which Dole does not publicly disclose." Letter from Freya Maneki, director, corporate communications and shareholder relations, Dole, to Human Rights Watch, October 8, 2001.
40 The five plantations that signage and testimony suggest primarily supply neither Dole nor Noboa on which one or more children interviewed by Human Rights Watch worked either do not primarily supply any single exporter corporation or primarily supply a smaller company not discussed in this report. These five are Guabital in Balao, San Miguel in Naranjal, Santa Carla in Balao, Cañas owned by Victor Moreno in the canton of Machala in El Oro province, and Cañas owned by Vicente Ortiz in Machala. According to workers, all five produced occasionally for Del Monte, and all but one-Cañas owned by Victor Moreno in Machala-produced sporadically for Chiquita. In addition, workers told Human Rights Watch that on the twenty plantations primarily supplying Dole and Noboa, bananas were produced, on occasion, for other exporters. For example, workers stated that Italia and Balao Chico occasionally supplied Chiquita, Del Monte, and Favorita and that the Las Fincas plantation group, Guabital, Colón, Recreo, San Carlos, Santa Carla, and Sociedad Predio Rústico Agrícola Italia sporadically produced for Chiquita and Del Monte.
41 Chiquita denied that from 1995 through the end of June 2001-a period that encompasses the years during which the children interviewed by Human Rights Watch labored as banana workers-it purchased bananas from any of the above-listed plantations, with the exception of Santa Carla and Sociedad Predio Rústico Agrícola. Furthermore, in the cases of Santa Carla and Sociedad Predio Rústico Agrícola, Chiquita asserted that it did not purchase bananas in 2000 or 2001. Letter from Jeffrey Zalla, corporate responsibility officer, Chiquita, to Human Rights Watch, August 28, 2001.
42 Although Favorita responded to Human Rights Watch's letter, the company did not answer the question of whether it purchased occasionally from plantations Italia and Balao Chico during the years in question. Letter from Dr. Segundo Wong, executive president, Favorita, Ltd., to Human Rights Watch, July 17, 2001.
43 Letter from Jeffrey Zalla to Human Rights Watch, August 28, 2001.