Chiquita Brands, one of Panama and Central America’s main distributors of bananas, has set their sights on Puerto Armuelles, in the province of Chiriqui, after a dramatic exit ten years ago which cost the region its economic stability.
Estimates are that if the former banana workers, the government and the company reach an economic agreement they could export about 6 million boxes of bananas from Puerto Armuelles, which would complement the 15 million boxes of bananas from Bocas del Toro that the company sells.
Julio Vásquez, Manager of Chiquita in the province, said that, ”the only thing needed to begin negotiations and re-start banana activity in Puerto Armuelles is deciding the economic model by which the activity will be conducted.”;
Puerto Armuelles’ future might depend on this negotiation. It’s a region strongly affected by unemployment that can’t afford to repeat the mistakes that led to the end of the banana sector there.
Vasquez acknowledged that, despite the multinational company’s great interest in reopening its banana activity in Chiriqui, it would be difficult to separate the history of what happened in Puerto Armuelles and the decision that will be taken in the near future.
“It is a fact that the lands now belong to the workers. We need to find ways to invest significant amounts of resources in these lands to reactivate them,” Vasquez said.
Publication date: 6/24/2013