nicaragua protest farm workers pesticides nemagon
© Reuters / Oswaldo Rivas
A protest against the use of pesticide Nemagon in Managua, Nicaragua. The sign says "Death for Nemagon."
Nicaraguan plantation workers told RT that they haven't lost hope of finally getting compensated by major chemical firms whose deadly pesticide, they say, severely damaged their health and had major impacts on their lives.

The pesticide makes men sterile and "also increases cancer rates among women and men," the victims' lawyer Stuart Smith told RT.

The people that were affected by the highly-toxic chemical were not compensated, despite being "significantly hurt," he said.

The US banned the use of the roundworm-killing DBCP, marketed as Nemagon, in 1977. But chemical giants Dow, Shell and Occidental (now OxyChem) continued to sell it overseas, including to Nicaragua, where the substance was sprayed over banana and sugarcane plantations. It was reported that up to 22,000 workers were affected as a result.

"I remember that once I was cutting cane, and I had a headache and bone pain, fever," German Suazo from the Nicaraguan northwestern town of Chichigalpa said.
"The fever was so terrible that I fainted."
Around 2,000 Nicaraguans are believed to have died after coming in contact with the chemical.

Local courts awarded the victims over $800 million in compensation for health damages, however, the companies refused to pay up, insisting Nicaragua has no jurisdiction over them. The affected people, meanwhile, refuse to give up and continue to seek justice.

"They never told us what we know now, and I don't think it is right for them to spray the poison because now we are affected," sugar mill worker German Lopez said.
"The worst thing here is they don't want to meet our demands. The company's owner is deaf to us."
Smith explained that the US courts recommended the victims to file lawsuits in their home countries. The companies, meanwhile, "removed all their assets from those countries so there are no assets to seize," the lawyer told RT.

The Nicaraguans, suffering from the deadly pesticide, decided to file a lawsuit in France, where the court froze Dow's shares worth 99 million euro ($110 million) pending trial. Smith remains optimistic about its outcome.