October 10, 2014
On Tuesday Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela flew his presidential helicopter to Puerto Armuelles.
The President was here to announce:
Return of Chiquita To Puerto Armuelles
Update on Creation a Multi-use Port
Chiquita Banana (Chiquita Brands)
The President made his announcement at the banana plantations outside of Puerto Armuelles.
To “virtually” travel up the the plantations yourself, click to watch the banana plantation tour video we made a few years back.
He spoke to a crowd of banana workers, the press, and to local government employees. The workers were all given the day off in order to drive out to the banana plantations and lend their support.
Leasing 1,700 hectares of banana farms
The Presient shared the news that Chiquta Brands has signed a lease for 1,700 hectares of banana plantations in Puerto Armuelles.
Chiquita is actually leasing the very same banana plantations that it originally created from scratch back in the late 1920s.
It would be interesting to discover what the old-timers at Chiquita think about that.
Reactivation of the banana plantations is to begin immediately, with an initial investment of $37 million.
The goal of this first investment is to bring those 1,700 hectares of the original Chiquita Plantations back into production.
President Varela asserted that as many as 1,200 new jobs would be created by this startup investment.
What Was Left Unsaid
Of course, the President didn’t mention the $19 million debt owed by the banana cooperative, Coosemupar, for the lease of these lands. That is something that will need to be resolved before banana production can go into full swing.
However, talks with Social Security Fund (CSS) and other relevant agencies have been underway for years now. Hopefully it can be truly resolved soon.
In addition, the President didn’t mention who else will be leasing its plantation lands. There is a total of 3,176 hectares in the area that the government will be renting out.
Who will be leasing the other 1,476 hectares? What will those lands be used for?
Short background on Chiquita and Puerto Armuelles
As many readers may already know, Chiquita Brands, formerly known as the United Fruit Company (and more often referred to as Chiquita Banana) has had a long and prosperous relationship with Puerto Armuelles.
Chiquita literally built the historic beach town of Puerto Armuelles.
Unfortunately for Chiquita, and for Puerto Armuelles, opportunistic labor union lawyers colluded in a long series of strikes which culminated in Chiquita being
forced to pull out of Puerto in 2000.
Multi-Use Port News
The good news didn’t end there.
Varela went on to say that the long awaited multi‐use port facility for Puerto Armuelles is also in the works.
The port would serve container ships, and add long-term viability to Puerto Armuelles as the Port City “at the other end of Panama”.
(Puerto Armuelles is located on the Pacific Ocean, near the Costa Rica Border. In fact, you can walk to Costa Rica from Puerto Armuelles in an hour or two.)
The near completion of the new four‐lane highway from the border town of Paso Canoas 34 kilometers south to Puerto Armuelles certainly adds credibility to President Varela’s grand
Highway crews have been forming concrete and pouring asphalt for the past year and a half.
This past week saw the installation of eight huge post‐tensioned concrete beams that form the support structure for the newly widened bridge over the San Bartolo River just north of Puerto Armuelles.
Roads Out To Punta Burica
As part of his vision for Puerto Armuelles, President Varela talked about funding to complete the highway beyond Puerto Armuelles to Punta Burica.
He wants to help develop the infant tourist economy of such costal towns as Limones, Balsas, and Bella Vista.
Mayor Of Puerto Armuelles Spoke
The Mayor Of Puerto Armuelles, Franklin Valdez, also spoke.
He assured the crowd that one of his administration’s top priorities was to reconstruct the town’s basic sanitation infrastructure.
Much of this system dates back 70 years and the early days of Chiquita’s reign in Puerto Armuelles.
In parts of town, you can see the aging of the system first hand, and sometimes by smell.
To find out more about our town, click for info about the beach town of Puerto Armuelles.