U.S. Supreme Court rejects human rights abuse claims against Chiquita
Chiquita Brands International had a victory in court yesterday for one case, right as a new one had just opened with allegations of "pesticide showers" in Guatemala.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied petitions from more than 4,000 relatives of Colombian terror victims who were seeking compensation from the multinational for allegedly aiding and abetting torture and war crimes through payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Chiquita, now owned by a consortium of Brazilian juice firm Cutrale Group and investment company Safra Group, admitted in 2007 to making payments to the AUC including more than US$825,000 after the group was declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. Government.
For its conduct, the company paid a US$25 million fine.
The produce firm has emphasized many times that such extortion payments were made by many companies operating in the region during the late 1990s through to the early 2000s, and were given to both the AUC and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
In yesterday's decision, the court upheld a decision made by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Miami in July last year, which ruled the issue was out of its jurisdiction because actions occurred outside of the United States.
The denied cases were Liliana Maria Cardona, et al v. Chiquita and Does 1-144, et al v. Chiquita.
On Friday, Tania Campbell started litigation proceedings against the company in the Federal Court, alleging advertisements of Chiquita's corporate social responsibility practices and code of conduct were "misleading", website Courthousenews.com reported.
The story reported Campbell disputed a raft of claims made by the company, alleging its key Guatemalan banana supplier COBIGUA contaminated rivers and drinking water with fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and organic matter.
In a 39-page complaint she named five Guatemalan villages that allegedly suffered from "water pollution and airborne exposure to toxic chemicals that are the result of defendant's production practices", the story reported.
"COBIGUA uses no buffer zone for aerial fumigation of plants that border schools and homes," she alleged, according to the publication.