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Strange Fruit: Colombia, A [Chiquita] Banana Republic

COMMENT: U.S. courts are to hear a suit against Chiq­uita Banana, the well-known banana importer with the cute “female singing banana” mar­ket­ing icon. Charg­ing that the com­pany has col­luded with both right and left-wing para­mil­i­taries, drug smug­glers and death squads, plain­tiffs will be pro­ceed­ing with their argu­ments. How far they are able to go may be lim­ited by forth­com­ing Supreme Court pro­ceed­ings. The firm was pre­vi­ously rep­re­sented by Eric Holder (now Attor­ney General).

One won­ders if the company’s involve­ment with these male­fac­tors went far­ther than the legal argu­ments allege. Might the firm have helped bring some of the Colom­bian cocaine, heroin or mar­i­juana into the U.S. and/or laun­dered money from the traffic?

“Chiq­uita Banana to Face Colom­bia Tor­ture Claim” by Pratap Chat­ter­jee; Cor­p­Watch Blog; 3/30/2012.

EXCERPT: Chiq­uita, the global banana pro­ducer, was ordered this week to face a fed­eral court over their role in pay­ing off right wing death squads in Colom­bia. Vil­lagers allege that the death squads used “ran­dom and tar­geted vio­lence in exchange for finan­cial assis­tance and access to Chiquita’s pri­vate port for arms and drug smug­gling,” accord­ing to a law­suit filed on their behalf by Earth­Rights Inter­na­tional and Cohen Milstein. . . .

. . . . Cincinnati-based Chiq­uita has been grow­ing bananas in Colom­bia since 1899. For over four decades these oper­a­tions have been under attack – first by the Fuerzas Armadas Rev­olu­cionar­ias de Colom­bia (FARC), a left-wing guer­rilla group, and then by Autode­fen­sas Unidas de Colom­bia (AUC), a para­mil­i­tary group cre­ated by ranch­ers and drug traffickers.
Court doc­u­ments show that Chiq­uita exec­u­tives paid off both groups. FARC was paid between $20,000 and $100,000 a month. Chiq­uita has also admit­ted to mak­ing over 100 pay­ments total­ing $1.7 mil­lion to the AUC or affil­i­ated orga­ni­za­tions over seven years. . . .

Discussion

3 comments for “Strange Fruit: Colombia, A [Chiquita] Banana Republic”

  1. The law firm pur­su­ing the claims appears to have a good track record. Let’s hope they’re not too ‘connected’.

    “Agnieszka Frysz­man, a Part­ner at Cohen Mil­stein, joined the Firm in 1998. She heads Cohen Milstein’s Inter­na­tional Human Rights and Pro Bono practice.

    Ms. Frysz­man reg­u­larly lit­i­gates com­plex cases against cor­po­rate giants. She was a mem­ber of the legal team that suc­cess­fully rep­re­sented sur­vivors of Nazi-era forced and slave labor against the Ger­man and Aus­trian com­pa­nies that allegedly prof­ited from their labor. These cases were resolved by inter­na­tional nego­ti­a­tions that resulted in multi-billion dol­lar set­tle­ments. She also rep­re­sented, pro bono, Holo­caust sur­vivors suing Swiss banks that col­lab­o­rated with the Nazi regime dur­ing World War II. This lit­i­ga­tion led aca­d­e­mics to revise their assess­ment of Switzerland’s rela­tion­ship with Nazi Ger­many and exposed the extent of busi­ness par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Holocaust.”

    Posted by Dwight | April 1, 2012, 10:25 am
  2. @Dwight: It does sound like they’re pretty gen­uine to me too, though. Let’s hope our opti­mism pays off. =)

    Posted by Steven L. | April 1, 2012, 1:46 pm
  3. [...] Strange Fruit: Colom­bia, A [Chiq­uita] Banana Repub­lic This entry was posted in Non classé. Book­mark the perma­link. ← Marine Le Pen – Radio Clas­sique – Public­Se­nat – 020412 [...]

    Posted by Miscellaneous articles for – Articles divers pour 04-02-2012 | Lys-d'Or | April 2, 2012, 9:38 am

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