Banana multinational sued over Colombian paramilitary support
Colombian victims groups have filed two lawsuits against U.S. multinational Chiquita Brands for its alleged role in the murder of 931 people in the banana growing region of Urabá, reported Caracoltv.com.
The victims group, represented by attorney Paul Wolf before the Washington Federal Court, claims Chiquita paid the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and later the Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) protection money for its banana farms between 1987 and 1999.
Around 500 of the deaths occured between 1995 and 1996, with alleged payments made to former AUC commander Ever Veloza Garcia under 'front organizations' that weren't accounted for in Chiquita's finances, reported Colombiareports.com.
Colombiareports.com obtained copies of the complaints alleging the company paid and armed FARC in order to have an environment 'free from labor opposition and social disturbances'.
"This case arises as a result of the actions of Defendant Chiquita Brands International, Inc., and its subsidiaries and affiliates (collectively, "Chiquita"), in funding, arming, and otherwise supporting terrorist organizations in Colombia in their campaign of terror against the civilian population of the Urabá region, in order to maintain its profitable control of Colombia’s banana growing region," the compaint stated.
"The deaths of Plaintiffs’ relatives were a direct, foreseeable, and intended result of Chiquita’s illegal and tortuous support of this terrorist organization. Chiquita’s actions violated not only Colombian law and U.S. law, but also international law prohibiting crimes against humanity, war crimes, terrorism, and other abuses."
The plaintiffs' second complaint was brought by the legal heirs and estates of 677 Colombian citizens who were murdered by AUC.
A seperate case was also filed against the company on Mar. 10 over the murder of a U.S. geologist by FARC rebels, reported Colombiareports.com.
In 2007, Chiquita pleaded guilty to paying paramilitary groups US$1.7 million between 1997 and 2004, with a fine of US$25 million, reported Caracoltv.com.
Photo: Alerta Roja