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Skidmore College

Activist for agricultural workers in Latin America to present film

March 19, 2014

Jason Glaser, founder and president of La Isla Foundation, an organization that works to improve conditions for agricultural workers in Central America, will present his documentary film Bananaland: Blood, Bullets and Poison, at Skidmore College on Tuesday March 25, at 7 p.m. in Gannett Auditorium, Palamountain Hall.

The film covers over 120 years of history of American fruit companies in Central and South America, from the infamous Santa Marta Massacre in 1928, in which the Colombian army opened fire on striking workers of the United Fruit Company, to the intimidation and killings of labor organizers and workers in our own times.

Jason Glaser
Jason Glaser

Bananaland highlights the disconnect between the image we have of bananas as a delicious and nutritious start to our day, a healthy snack and a fixture in our fruit bowls, and the social upheaval, violence, and pesticide poisoning that affect millions of residents in the banana-producing regions,” said Pushkala Prasad, the Zankel Professor in Management at Skidmore.

The recently completed film has been screened internationally at a number of college and universities, including Georgetown University, Goldsmiths College at the University of London, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and the University of Salzburg in Austria.

Said Glaser in an interview with In These Times magazine, “Clearly there are concerns about industrially produced food consumed in the United States, but that issue is secondary compared to the barbaric treatment many communities face while producing food and biofuel for export to the U.S., the European Union, and beyond.”

At the Skidmore event, Glaser will discuss the challenges of making such a politically charged movie as well as the La Isla Foundation’s work to assist communities in Nicaragua that have been devastated by chronic kidney disease related to the use of pesticides at banana plantations and sugar cane fields. “The fact that up to 32 percent of men in certain communities have terminal renal disease and no access to adequate treatment is completely hidden from the local press and obscured by the national government,” said Glaser.

La Isla’s work to combat kidney disease in Meso-America is being supported by a recent grant to the foundation’s partner organization, Solidaridad, which has been awarded $4 million by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.

Glaser’s talk is co-sponsored by the following programs at Skidmore College: International Affairs Program, Latin American Studies, Environmental Studies, Skidmarket, the Zankel Chair in Management, and the Management and Business Department.   

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