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News > World

Nicaraguan Farmers Seek Compensation from Chemical Corporations

  • File photo. The sign reads,

    File photo. The sign reads, "Dead by nemagon," outside U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua. | Photo: Twitter/ @ReporteNi

Published 24 January 2022

The lawsuit is filed before the French Justice because the United States courts refused to execute the sentences issued by Nicaraguan courts in 2002 and 2007.

On behalf of the families of 1,234 Nicaraguan farmers, lawyers Pierre-Olivier Sur and Clara Gerard-Rodriguez began on Monday a legal process in the Paris Court to claim compensation of US$1 billion from Shell Oil, Dow Chemical, and Occidental Chemical.


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This unprecedented process accuses the world's largest chemical groups for the damage caused by their pesticides to Nicaraguan workers during the last decades of the 20th century.

The lawsuit is filed before the French Justice because the United States courts refused to execute the sentences issued in 2002 and 2007 by Nicaraguan courts, which forced these three companies to compensate workers who had been affected by a pesticide labelled Nemagon.

The Nicaraguan rulings showed that Shell Oil, Dow Chemical, and Occidental Chemical sold this product in the Central American country despite the fact that it had been prohibited in the U.S. since 1977 due to its harmful effects. Among the health effects suffered by banana workers are neurological problems, blindness, infertility, and prostate and liver cancers.

Years later, however, U.S. courts dismissed the Nicaraguan rulings, arguing that the local judges were suspected of corruption.

The meme reads, "Twelve banana plantation workers in Nicaragua sued the multinational Dole Food Company for the use of pesticides during the 1970s. The world around a banana: Bananas!"

"Corrupted by whom? The victims were penniless and they're all dead. This is a fight between David and Goliath," attorney Sur stressed in response to the U.S. judges' interpretation.

In order to obtain the payment of compensation based on the assets owned by the transnational companies, the farmers' lawyers based their claim on the "Exequatur," a legal principle that has been used previously to achieve recognition of a foreign sentence.

The plaintiffs' lawyers chose France because here a decision related to the Exequatur, which has been applied to divorce cases in French courts, implies its immediate execution in all the European Union since 2012. In addition, the Nicaraguan legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code, which is the civil liability mechanism applied in France.

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