Chiquita, Banana Republics, & Colombian Terrorists


By Jonathan H

Chiquita's Corporate Pamphlet to Workers?
Chiquita’s corporate pamphlet ironically encourages employees to meet and form unions.? Their website has a section on corporate responsibility.??

Chiquita Corporate OfficeCan we have our bananas and eat them too? Certainly not without putting a portion of the proceeds towards global terrorism.? “What?” You may query. That’s right: Chiquita, the illustrious blue-stickered fruit company, paid off millions of dollars to 3 of the 28 “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” listed by the State Department.

The biggest payments were made to Colombia’s famed “death squad”: The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). The AUC “death squad” has been known to brutally kill in frequent massacres across the Colombian villages. They also have their hand in a sizable portion of Colombia’s cocaine exports.

And You Thought American Partisan Politics Were Bad
Colombia is currently a country divided by two sides: leftist?rebel groups, vying for territory against right-wing paramilitary forces, who are often allied with business and government officials.? Both the left and right-oriented groups control large portions of the country and are responsible for the deaths of local residents, human rights workers, and trade unionists. All play an active role (to varying degrees) in the Colombian cocaine trade.

Chiquita has responded to the recent revelations saying that they used the money to protect their workers from being killed by the AUC.? But Human Rights groups in Colombia say that the money was also used to “quiet” down workers who were working towards unionization in Chiquita-owned subsidiaries — especially ironic considering that Chiquita encourages organizing as workers in their spanish-language pamphlet (pictured at top).?

Banana Republic History in a Nutshell
To the average South-Central American, the Chiquita news is just “business as usual.” As far back as ?1899, the United Fruit Company (progenitor of Chiquita) has been operating in Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama.? The U.S. Army has protected the banana interests and has even deployed to protect the interests of the company in 1903, 1907, 1912, 1919, and 1924.

Then came a fateful day in 1928.? Tousands of laborers in Colombia’s plantations began a strike to demand written contracts, eight-hour work days, six-day weeks, and the end of food coupons. The strike continued for months when, on December 6, 1928, an army regiment from Bogota was dispatched to the town. The army set up machine guns on the roofs of surrounding buildings, closed off surrounding roads, and opened fire on the strikers — killing anywhere from 48?to 2,000 workers (estimates range wildly, but are likely between 500-1200). Gabriel Garc?a M?rquez?s beautifully written book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, contains a depiction of this event. The 1928 Santa Marta Massacre forever changed the face of Colombian politics and is partly why there is a vibrant leftist movement in the country.

Since then, the United Fruit Company (whose involvement in the massacre is debatable) has changed its name to Chiquita.

Is That a Banana in Your Pocket or Are You Smuggling Guns and Drugs?
Of course, the strike of 1928 wasn’t the only time Chiquita (then United Fruit)?has been in a bit of PR trouble.? In 1997, authorities siezed one ton of cocaine from Chiquita-owned ships leaving from chiquita-owned ports. A?2003 report by the Organization of American States claims that a Chiquita subsidiary could have used a company?ship to?smuggle 3,000 rifles and 2.5 million bullets to the paramilitary groups.?

The Justice Department began to catch wind.? Then Chiquita, realizing that they were funding listed “terrorists,” notified the Justice Department — yet continued to fund the paramilitary groups for another 10 months.?In the end, The Justice Department decided not to indict Chiquita.? Rather, they opted for a settlement, and everyone wins — that is, everyone except for the average Colombian.?

Editor’s Note: This report was strongly sourced from journalist/historian April Howard’s riveting expose on Chiquita’s international dealings.? If you want a full detailed look, then check it out, here.

3 comments on “Chiquita, Banana Republics, & Colombian Terrorists

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