July 18, 2007

The taxi chronicles: You ain't smelled nothing yet

The other evening, we took a taxi to town and back home again.

On the way to town, we noticed a foul odor just before we reached the Cangrejal River. We asked the taxi driver about it. He thought it was from a plant making cal (lime, used for mixing concrete). I don't know if that made any sense or not. I don't think that the odor was coming from the river because we smelled it before we turned the bend and no as strongly over the bridge.

On the way back, we asked the new driver if he knew what the smell was from. He didn't, but he said that that smell was nothing compared to what Standard Fruit (Dole) does near where he lives, right in town. He said that Dole cleans their equipment and dumps chemicals in the estero (stream which drains into the ocean) which causes a horrendous odor which lasts for 20-30 days. It turns the water creamy. He said he could hardly bear to live there.

Well, that's Honduras. Big companies get away with anything and the little guy suffers. Not just the little guy, though, because companies contaminate the water for everyone, not to mention that ultimately these chemicals make their way to the ocean and damage ocean life and the reef.

Standard Fruit workers had to take their lawsuit to the U.S. to try to get justice for the damage they have suffered from poor and dangerous chemical practices of this company. The reason most companies come to Central America is to take advantage of the cheap labor and the lack of or lax enforcement of environmental laws. If they can be sued in the U.S., we may see that change in the future.
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