Douglas Farah reports:
The relatives of five American missionaries who were abducted and murdered by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have filed suit against Chiquita Brands International Inc., accusing the banana company of secretly financing and arming the rebel (and terrorist) group.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleges the banana company knowingly and willfully provided the FARC with protection money and weapons in the late 1990s.
The case sheds much-needed light on the role that U.S.-based companies (and certainly others) play in fomenting conflicts that cost thousands of lives. Chiquita has admitted to being one of them. . . .
Here is the gist of what the law suit alleges, making it clear that the company never bothered to tell the grieving families of Chiquita’s role in funding the FARC. It may be enough to make you give up bananas, as it was for me:
Although Plaintiffs confirmed years ago that FARC was the entity or organization that carried out the kidnappings and murders, Plaintiffs did not learnuntil recently about Chiquita’s involvement in funding and providing other material support to FARC. Indeed, to this day, the full scope, including dollar amounts, timing, mechanisms, and anti-detection methods employed by Chiquita in connection with its FARC-related conduct is murky, and demands document and testimonial discovery.
It was not until March 19, 2007 thatPlaintiffs learned, through filings made public by the DOJ, in regard to Chiquita’s illegal payments to another Colombian FTO, that Chiquita had, in prior periods, made illegal and secretpayments to FARC as well. To conceal its unlawful conduct from both Colombian and U.S. authorities andprevent disclosure of the facts to Plaintiffs, Defendant funneled weapons to FARC (and assisted FARC in the transport of weapons) through Defendant’s local transportation contractors. As alleged above, Chiquita also falsified payroll records used to divert funds from non-existent employees to FARC, used existing contracts with legitimate organizations to bury and disguise 33 payments, or drew up phony contracts with legitimate vendors as a means of falsifying the payments and booking them as legitimate expenses.
As alleged supra, Chiquita also secretly concealed payments to local labor unionsthat it knew, or consciously avoided knowing, were controlled by FARC and made other clandestine payments through FARC-established fronts and dummy companies.