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Producers of Barú Denounce Judge for 'Overreaching'

4.1.2019

A group of producers from the district of Barú, in Chiriqui, is denouncing the overreaching of functions by a judge who imposed a measure that threatens the trade of their products.

Santander Tristán Donoso, a lawyer representing 400 affected producers, explained that Judge Ulzana Valdés established a guide for the transport of farm products.

But this guide was not granted to the agricultural producers who are claiming six thousand hectares of land ceded to the com-pany Banapiña, subsidiary of Del Monte, through the contract No. 36 of 2017, to supposedly reactivate the banana area with an investment of $ 100 million.

Producers are arguing that for fifteen years they have been working these lands, so they are considered 'agrarian owners' of the same.

The guide is like a safe conduct conferred by the judge to be able to market the agricultural products, explained the lawyer. The document must have a key number of the producer and the transport company, the credentials of the vehicle, the name of the product, among others.

'Producers who are in these lands are being considered as invaders and have no right to sell their products. They are being restricted in their activity," said Tristán Donoso.

The measure of the judge is qualified as a repressive action, considering that previously had been trying to evict the producers from the area because they were considered 'invaders'.

However, a court of protection of guarantees determined that the actions against the producers were illegal. This resource prevented the producers from being evicted.

The contract between the Panamanian State and Del Monte will allow the multinational to invest more than $ 100 million in the reactivation of banana producing areas in the western provinces of Chiriquí and Bocas del Toro.

"They tried to apply a dispossession that did not work for them and now they are looking for another mechanism," said César Robles, a member of the National Strategic Alliance, an organization that is offering its support to producers.

The producers have also filed a request for precautionary measures before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH). The contract also maintains two pending unconstitutional claims.

Gisela Pérez Polo, secretary of the National Strategic Alliance, said that who should issue this guide is an agrarian judge.

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