For the first time ever, Ecuador is taking legal action against a firm for human trafficking with the intent to exploit labour. The firm concerned is Japanese firm, Furukawa Plantaciones C.A. The company Furukawa Plantaciones C.A. sells and exports abaca, a type of banana used to produce banknotes in half of the world.
You’d think how does a banana company matter? Well, producers of bananas make $10 billion annually due to the high amount of consumption of the fruit worldwide. Ecuador is the leading exporter of bananas to both the US and Europe, supplying one fourth of the total exports.
Due to the fruit’s popularity, vast numbers of banana growers overlook the welfare of their 200,000 workers in order to satisfy the high demand for a product that is attainable. To maximize their earnings, Ecuadorian banana producers’ resort to child labour, paying inadequate wages and the suppress the labour unions.
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However, why a Japanese company Furukawa Plantaciones C.A. become a target of government’s action on exploitation in Ecuador’s banana kingdom? The exploitation is done by all the western companies.
Notable corporations in the sector, including Chiquita of the United States and Dole of Ireland, have a history of mistreating and taking advantage of workers. American Chiquita’s banana suppliers in Ecuador are linked to child labour, the use of hazardous pesticides, and inadequate wages.
So, why has a Japanese company Furukawa Plantaciones C.A. drawn the ire? Well, Ecuador’s government is ruled by Guillermo Lasso. The government is US-backed. Recently, a video was released when Michael Fitzpatrck, the US Ambassador, arrived at the Prosecutor’s Office during the corruption probes of Lenin Moreno and Lasso.
What the US’ ambassador has to do with Ecuador’s politics? Well, US’ ambassadors in the continent regularly interfere in the politics and policies of Latin American countries. Even though Japan is an ally of the US, it doesn’t want any competitors. After all, nothing is bigger than the capitalistic profits it acquires in the region.
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Therefore, the Ecuadorian government is following the command of its master, the US, by taking the legal action against the Japanese company, Furukawa Plantaciones C.A.
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