Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page


Human Rights Watch interviewed twenty-five adult and forty-five child banana workers, NGO representatives, government officials, union officials and labor activists, labor lawyers, child labor and children's rights experts, representatives of international organizations, and banana-exporting corporation officials in Ecuador from May 7, 2001 through May 27, 2001. In some cases, we also subsequently conducted follow-up telephone interviews from the United States.

Human Rights Watch interviewed government officials from a juvenile court, the Ministry of Labor, the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security, and the Ministry of Agriculture between May 9 and May 23 in Quito and Guayaquil. Between May 7 and May 22, we spoke with a UNICEF official, several representatives of the National Institute for Children and Families, a child labor expert, NGO representatives, union leaders, and labor lawyers. Through the assistance of a local banana producer and the president of a small banana-producers association, Human Rights Watch visited several banana plantations on May 14 and May 15, and between May 14 and May 18, we spoke with plantation owners and administrators as well as representatives from small, medium, and large banana-producers associations. We interviewed representatives of UBESA, Dole's Ecuadorian subsidiary, on May 17, Favorita on May 21, and Bandecua, Del Monte's Ecuadorian subsidiary, Brundicorpi, Chiquita's Ecuadorian subsidiary, and Noboa on May 24. In July, we contacted the Brundicorpi official and another UBESA official by telephone from the United States.

Human Rights Watch also sent letters to the chief executive officers of all five banana-exporting corporations mentioned in this report, informing them of our investigation, inquiring as to their contractual relationships with certain Ecuadorian banana plantations on which workers we interviewed labored, and seeking information on their labor policies with respect to their Ecuadorian suppliers. We sent letters to Chiquita on July 13 and Favorita on July 15, and both corporations responded shortly thereafter. Letters were sent to Noboa on September 5 and October 5, but no response was ever received. Similarly, we sent letters to Del Monte on July 18, September 4, and September 5 and received no response. Human Rights Watch also sent letters to Dole on July 13, August 31, September 5, and September 8, to which Dole responded on October 8.

With the exception of a workshop for female banana workers on May 20, a meeting with the female banana worker organizing the workshop, and a Machala interview with a child worker, our access to banana workers was facilitated by a retired male banana worker, identified as Julio Gutiérrez in this report, who collaborates with a local agricultural workers' federation and with whom we spoke several times prior to traveling to Ecuador. On May 12 and May 27, Gutiérrez accompanied us to small villages in Naranjal and Balao, where he brought us from house to house to interview child and adult banana workers, the vast majority acquaintances of his and many of whom he had contacted on our behalf prior to our arrival. In some cases, while interviewing adults, we were informed of additional child workers in the villages, whom we later also interviewed. On May 19, Gutiérrez accompanied Human Rights Watch to a village in Balao, where we spent the day in a recreation center, surrounded by child banana workers. Gutiérrez had previously contacted parents in the village to explain the purpose of our visit and, upon our arrival, parents sent their children to the center to be interviewed. As word of our presence spread, more curious children flocked to the center, where we interviewed every child worker willing to speak with us. On May 26, Gutiérrez accompanied us to two other villages in Naranjal, where we interviewed adults and walked throughout one of the small communities inquiring as to whether child workers also lived in the village. In response, adults sent several children to speak with us, and one of the child workers gathered a number of his child worker acquaintances to be interviewed as well.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page