- A demobilized paramilitary fighter, “Lorenzo,” in Turbo, Colombia.
The families of five men killed by Colombian rebels are suing Chiquita for materially aiding those terrorists, Carmen Gentile writes in the New York Times. Last fall’s issue included “The Octopus in the Cathedral of Salt,” in which author Phillip Robertson explained the history of the business practices of Chiquita (née United Fruit) in Colombia. While Chiquita has defended their payments to Revoluntary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) as protection for its employees, Robertson interviews a former paramilitary fighter who says that Chiquita was knowingly running cocaine on their freighters and providing arms to terrorists.
Chiquita admits paying millions of dollars to the two rebel groups, but they deny providing any weapons. (They initially denied funding the groups, then admitted funding AUC, and only recently admitted funding FARC.) They’ve already agreed to pay $25M in fines to the U.S. government under anti-terrorism laws. These lawsuits are also being brought under anti-terrorism laws; the fact that they’ve already pleaded guilty to criminal charges will presumably ease the path for the suit brought by the families.