The Common Good

Chiquita Paid for Left- and Right-Wing Terror, and Victims of Both Demand Justice

I posted last November about legal proceedings against Chiquita for protection money paid to Colombian right-wing paramilitary organizations (AUC) that had been designated terrorist organizations by the U.S. government. Two stories this week shed more light on the situation and are worth checking out.

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First, last week's 60 Minutes broadcast included a segment called "The Price of Bananas," which gives a good overview, including the origins of the paramilitaries:

The second comes from Christianity Today in an article titled, "Corporate-Sponsored Terror." It describes the lawsuit against Chiquita brought by former missionaries with New Tribes Mission, widows whose husbands were kidnapped and killed by left-wing guerrilla forces (FARC) when they controlled the region where Chiquita was operating:

When Chiquita Brands International pleaded guilty last year to violating anti-terrorism laws -- and was fined $25 million for its payments to Colombian terrorists -- Tania Julin and Nancy Hamm felt betrayed and angry.

Though Chiquita's plea did not involve the group that murdered their husbands 12 years ago, the women learned through the case that Chiquita had also paid protection money to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

"I believe they need to be held accountable," said Hamm, who retired from New Tribes Mission (NTM) last year. "This affected us in a horrible way, but I think it could affect a lot of other Americans, too, if Chiquita or other American companies continue to blatantly fund terrorists." ...

While Julin said none of the widows are bitter about the dangers that ultimately ended their husbands' lives, she does hope that winning the lawsuit will pose a warning to companies tempted to do business with terrorists.

"Chiquita had a choice whether to deal with the terrorists or not. If they felt they had to deal with the terrorists or not be in Colombia at all, they could have chosen not to be in Colombia," Julin said. "They chose to work with these terrorists."

Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the Web editor for Sojourners. He traveled to Colombia in 2003.

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