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testimonies and stories

"Patroncito" Porfirio López Ruiz, Costa Rica

 

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Patroncito is a retired banana worker of Nicaraguan origin although he has lived in Costa Rica since late childhood. He worked on banana plantations all over Costa Rica and participated in the strikes of the 1940s alongside Carlos Luis Fallas, author of the definitive banana novel "Mamita Yunai" about the United Fruit Company (now Chiquita).

When I met Patroncito he was 68 years old and not long retired. He was unwell at the time and I know that since then he has had spells of bad health. He is a great storyteller with a good sense of humour and still loves to sing songs about his native Nicaragua.

Gilberth Bermúdez, general secretary of the Trade Union SITRAP regards him an important connection with Costa Rica's trade union history and was trying to raise funds to build a house for Patroncito. When Gilberth last visited Britain I was able to give him one of the portraits of Patroncito so that he could take it back to Siquirres to give to him.

 

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Patroncito Porfirio Lopez Ruiz: woodcut by Jan Nimmo