On Thursday, the President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela, will sign the contract law with Banapiña Panama - a subsidiary of the multinational Del Monte- to revive the banana sector in Baru, Chiriqui. The group of owners of the lands that will be used for the project, which envisages an investment of $100 million, are unhappy with it.
790 of the 1,770 former workers of the Multiple Services Cooperative of Puerto Armuelles, R.L. (Coosemupar), whose land will be used for the project, oppose renting the lands because they don't agree with the amount of lease or the life of the contract.
Isaias Bonilla, a representative of the Rodolfo Aguilar Delgado Association of Agricultural Producers (lacque), said that when the National Assembly discussed the draft law, about 790 labor were willing to rent or sell their land because they were told they would be payable for twenty years. However, "we now know the reality of the contract law, in which the Government pledged all the land of all the former workers, including the one of the workers that disagreed," he said.
Bonilla said that after analyzing the document they realized they would only receive a one-time payment of $7,500 for renting their lands for a period of twenty years, which can be extendable to another twenty years; i.e., forty years, which he considers isn't cost-effective for them.
The former workers of Coosemupar will receive $187.50 per year for the rental of one hectare of land. The contract law contemplates the estimated recruitment of 3,100 people and generating 12 thousand indirect jobs.
The 790 former workers from Coosemupar aren't the only people opposing the law. Iacque, the Multiple Services Agricultural and Artisan Producers Union, and the Association of Producer from Baru oppose the contract law; however, these groups have occupied the lands since 1997 without having any property titles and have 18 months to vacate the lands, after the Government and the company sign the contract.
A third group interested in the land that the Banapiña company will use in Baru are the former workers of Coosemupar, which are now united in the Association of Producers and Industrialists of Baru (Asprobaru), and which demand a hectare of land, as they were not taken into consideration by the ANATI at the time that the lands were distributed.
If they can't reach an agreement before Banapiña begins to develop its production, they will be forced to make public demonstrations and submit lawsuits.