Friday, March 21, 2008

More Evil Deeds from Banana Companies in Latin America

Following last year's lawsuit in Colombia, in which over 400 people sued Chiquita for supporting paramilitary troops, the families of 5 men in Panama have also sued Chiquita. They maintain that Chiquita paid the FARC to "protect its workers" (if you'll recall, Chiquita also admitted to paying AUC, the largest paramilitary group in Colombia, to "protect its workers"). The families maintain the FARC raided Panama, kidnapping 5 men and killing them. The lawsuit maintains that Chiquita should be held partially responsible, as they paid the FARC (which the United States government has categorized as a terrorist group) and the FARC was responsible for these deeds.

Given the recent ruling in favor of Dole, I find it unlikely Chiquita will be held responsible or have to pay anything. Chiquita already has been ordered to pay a $25 million (with an m) fine for supporting the AUC, but the lawsuit of the 400 families hasn't been settled yet. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if a judge ruled that the evidence tying FARC's murder of these 5 men to the Chiquita payments was not enough or that Chiquita had already paid enough, but I could be wrong. The plaintiff's use of antiterrorism laws to try to prosecute Chiquita in the civil court is definitely an interesting approach that would probably not have existed in a pre-2001 context. Still, I imagine this will get thrown out, and once again, a banana company will not have to suffer the consequences for its unethical support of and payment to groups from both the left and right that commit crimes against the regular populations of multiple countries, all in the name of "protection" of its own interests.