The blockades in Costa Rica, which began last week, have already caused the banana industry more than ¢ 5.6 billion (US $ 9.31 million) in losses.
On Wednesday, the National Banana Corporation (Corbana), the National Banana Chamber (Canaba), and the Association of Independent Banana Producers (Aproban) issued a statement saying that they had lost nearly ¢ 800 million (US $ 1, 33 million) each day since the start of the blockades on September 29.
The three organizations said the blockades affected their activity because the workers couldn't get to the plantations to harvest the fruit, and the fruit that was harvested couldn't be packed, or taken out of the farms. They also said the banana was a perishable product that required having a careful supply chain, complying with specific delivery times, and that the blockades were increasing the logistics costs of this export product.
"We respect the positions and disagreements there may be towards certain governmental measures, but the protests should in no way limit the workers' right to make a living," stated Corbana, Canaba, and Aproban. The organizations said the blockades had also affected rural tourism, hotels, milk producers, and other export crops such as pineapple.
The blockades have affected some 40,000 workers in the banana sector. "Many farmworkers have had to pay bribes to the protesters to reach their workplaces," the organizations denounced.
The general director of the Public Force, Daniel Calderon, confirmed on Tuesday that some individuals were taking advantage of the desperation of the drivers trapped in the roadblocks to charge them ¢ 5,000 to ¢ 30,000 (US $ 8.3 to US $ 49, 9) to let them pass the blockades.
Costa Rica is one of the three most important banana exporting countries in the world, shipping nearly 120 million boxes per year, which accounts for US $ 1 billion in annual foreign exchange, according to the organizations.