Nora Ferm, Project Director- Fairness in Flowers Campaign, International Labor Rights Fund
In the recent presidential elections that took place last month, Ecuador narrowly avoided having a banana magnate notorious for labor rights violations at his plantations become the country's new leader.
Alvaro Noboa, the richest man in Ecuador, finished second in the presidential election run-offs in late November. A 2002 Human Rights Watch report exposed the use of child labor on Noboa's banana plantations (which market under the Bonita label). Later that year, when workers went on strike at Noboa's Alamos plantations after management fired union leaders after the Labor Ministry approved legal recognition for three unions, hundreds of thugs and security guards (who Noboa admitted to hiring) arrived to violently evict the striking workers. Two dozen workers were hurt in the attacks, some by gunshots.
Fortunately for Ecuadorian workers, Noboa is not president-elect. The winning candidate, Rafael Correa, is more left-leaning and hopes to unite South American countries to gain more favorable trading possibilities. He has also said that he will not sign the free trade agreement with the United States - this is also good news for local workers, who are offered no real protections for their labor rights under this proposed FTA.