In 2010, a law known as the ley chorizo threatened the right to strike and protest throughout the entire Panamanian national territory. This law included several new provisions, some of which criminalized the primary means of expression for banana plantation workers.
During that same period, laborers at Chiquita, one of the world’s largest banana producers, were fighting for a wage increase: approximately ten cents to be added to the hourly dollar wage. In Changuinola, protests grew larger, peaceful yet raucous, and deemed illegal by the government of the then-Italo-Panamanian President, Ricardo Martinelli.
The state’s response was to deploy riot police, mobilized with helicopters, and the officers fired volleys of buckshot into the crowd.
The toll of this tragedy was seven hundred injured and one fatality, Antonio Smith, struck in the heart. Since that day, the wounded have lived with bodies riddled by lead, on limbs and heads. The less fortunate have lost their sight.
The images narrate the aftermath of that operation, and in conjunction with the words of Nicolò Porcelluzzi and Matteo De Giuli (Medusa Newsletter), they aim at triggering a larger discussion. Where does the ruthless profiteering of the United Fruit Company originate? What has truly changed?
Carlos Gasparotto is an Italo-Argentinian photographer working especially in the regions of Central and South America. The images comprising this publication – printed in only 100 copies, buy it here – were taken 2012 in Changuinola, Panama.
The texts were written by “Medusa”: Nicolò Porcelluzzi and Matteo De Giuli, in June 2023. Medusa is a newsletter that started 2017 in collaboration with Not edizioni. It discusses climate and cultural changes; the graphic design is curated by Alessio D’Ellena (Superness).
Carlos Gasparotto will be at Micamera on Wednesday, October 11 at 6.30pm. Free entrance.