San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Legislative Assembly Approves Payments for Nemagon Victims

Costa Rican lawmakers have cleared the way for banana plantation workers affected by the noxious chemical Nemagon to receive indemnification from Costa Rica’s National Insurance Institute (INS) for their pain, suffering and medical expenses.

Nemagon is a pesticide banned in the United States in 1977 because it was linked to sterility, breast cancer, testicular cancer, stomach cancer and other health problems. However, major U.S.-based companies such as Dole, Chiquita and Standard Fruit continued to use it in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and other countries outside the United States into the 1980s.

On Sept. 12, legislators approved a legal reform that will allow workers from various private companies, as well as the former Agriculture Ministry’s Los Diamantes Experimental Station, to receive indemnity payments. In addition, the wives or husbands, girlfriends or boyfriends and children of the affected workers will also be eligible for benefits.

Legislator Jorge Méndez, of the ruling National Liberation Party, told The Tico Times that once the law takes effect following its publication in the government daily La Gaceta, INS will ask the Costa Rican Social Security System (Caja) to review whether victims could also be eligible for monthly pensions.

The legislator said approximately 5,000 Costa Ricans have claimed they are affected. The base payment for each worker directly affected is ¢683,000 ($1,318), upon which medical expenses and other damages will be added. That same amount will serve as the maximum that spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends and children can receive.


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