Criminal action sought against firm that grows pineapples

Municipal and other officials get a little testy when they find that someone has disregarded their orders to close, as in this case where the plastic tape has been broken. Beyond are fields of pineapples.

A pineapple-growing operation in Pococí is facing a criminal action because operators disregarded restrictions put on the plantation by the municipality and the Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo.

The action comes at a time when such monoculture operations are coming under increased criticism from environmental groups. For example, the group COECOCeiba Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica came out with a scathing critique of pineapple production also Monday.

The Tribunal Ambiental Administrativo said that since the first of the year residents of San Antonio del Humo, Roxana and the Floridas, in Jiménez de Pococí have field complaints about tree cutting, earth movements and planting pineapples without permits or environmental control.

The object of the complaints was the firm Pequeñas Anonas Rojas PAR S.A.

The legislative lawmaker José María Villalta filed a complaint with the Tribunal.
In response to the complain the Tribunal issued an order insisting on respect for protected areas and waterways.

The Pococí municipal council went even further and Feb. 29 ordered the pineapple operation to close because it had expanded despite a moratorium in effect for growers.

In a visit April 22, officials found that the municipal seals had been broken, so the municipality reported it had filed a criminal complaint Thursday.

The environmental group COECOCeiba Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica noted in a press release that pineapple growing has increased as much as 300 percent since 2004. It is a $2 billion business, but the group says that transnational companies, principally Dole, get this money but there is no transfer of wealth to the citizens or communities.

The group also complains about the proliferation of flies due to the pineapple wastes and the elimination of traditional agriculture. The group also complain about many of the same environmental problems that the Tribunal has cited in the past: chemicals seeping into the water supply, erosion and even the labor practices.

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