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Banana Workers Union Leader Assassinated

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On September 23rd Marco Tulio Portela Ramirez was brutally gunned down outside his home as he prepared to go to work at the Bandegua banana plantation, a subsidiary of Del Monte Fresh Produce.

Do you eat Del Monte bananas? Do you notice where your bananas come from? Are you willing to take a moment of your time to help the workers whose labor sends over a million tons of bananas to the Unites States each year?

The production of bananas in Guatemala takes place in large monoculture plantations where labor conditions are very poor. Workers receive low wages which often donít cover the basic needs of their families and endure long 12-hour work days and exposure to dangerous chemicals. Yet employees lack the freedom to organize independent trade unions and negotiate agreements with their employers in order to improve these working conditions. Those who have tried to organize have come under attack from both transnational banana companies and independent banana producers. Illegal firings, plantation closures, temporary contracts, civil law suits, trumped up criminal charges, and violence targeting union leaders have all become commonplace. So far in 2007, four unionists have been assassinated and no charges have been made against the guilty parties.

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