Americas, Colombia, Human Rights, Politics, World, Editor's Choice

Banana Republic: Chiquita Funded Terrorism in Colombia

Business is business. That means that business decisions have only one thing in mind – the company and their profits. It’s a nice code of honor to shield yourself from the emotional consequences of decisions made out of greed. The prime example of this is banana company Chiquita, which has been found guilty and reached settlements over their business decision to fund terrorist groups in Colombia for their personal gain, causing the death and suffering of thousands.

Columbian Terrorism Funded by Chiquita

Since the 1990s, Chiquita has been known to fund terrorist organizations in Colombia after establishing plantations in a FARC controlled region. FARC if a left-wing rebel terrorist group, which was the cause of countless deaths, injuries, and torture in the country until they eventually signed a peace agreement with the Colombian government in 2016. FARC has since moved on becoming a political party in the nation.

When Chiquita started its plantations in a region known for terrorist activity, they faced a decision. It was obvious FARC and other terrorist organizations would expect to be paid extortion money, and it was also obvious what that money was to be used for. If not with the first payment, then with the second or third, as FARC became increasingly violent over the course of the 90s. It would be a moral dilemma for anyone to weigh profits against supporting terrorist organizations that very clearly kill and harm people in the region you are operating in and beyond. Unless, of course, it’s a business decision where the only question asked is the return on investment.

I mean what are $25,000 here or there against the potential earnings, right? So you naturally ignore the pain and suffering and even fund a terror organization if that means you get to still run your operation. That’s the cost of business and not having a moral compass.

“We’re not going to stop doing business in Colombia because, you know, we’re going to have to spend an extra $25,000. That’s not realistic. Right?”

– A Chiquita executive according to the LA Times

Lawsuits Against Chiquita

Chiquita has been the subject of several lawsuits since then, being accused and admitting to having funded several terrorist groups in the region from both sites. The company was fined $25 Million for financially supporting right-wing paramilitary group AUC. The company has since vehemently tried to fend off any accusations and tried to dismiss lawsuits in the US of victims and their relatives seeking redemption for their suffering that was knowingly funded by Chiquita.

The latest of them was a lawsuit over six American’s deaths in the 90s at the hands of FARC, which was supposed to finally go on trial at the beginning of February. It would have sought to establish that Chiquita was well aware that it’s monetary contributions to the FARC terror group would be used for war against the Colombian government, ratifying extrajudicial killings and torture of innocent civilians. Chiquita has always insisted to have been unaware of these circumstances and simply wanted to ensure their workers’ and plantations’ safety.

Unfortunately, there was no court ruling on this matter, as Chiquita decided last-minute to settle out of court. However, it’s not that big of a stretch to see this as an indirect admission of guilt, especially in the light of previous lawsuits and admissions made by the company since the 90s.

A Byproduct of Business: Terrorism, Pain, Suffering

The topic has been around for decades, yet it isn’t over, it hardly ever will be. Chiquita is surely not the only company to buy into risky markets, funding terror and crime syndicates as a byproduct of their businesses. What we personally see as a moral dilemma or an outright sick tragedy, is often just the cost of business for big multinationals. It’s not that Chiquita couldn’t afford to leave their plantations and build new ones elsewhere, but it wouldn’t have been as cost-effective as funding several terrorist organizations and making people’s lives miserable.

Take this as a lesson in global economy. Human lives often, if not always, lose against the bottom line of a few execs and their business, be it in Colombia or anywhere else in the world. Be it Chiquita, a seemingly harmless banana company, or Rheinmetall, an arms manufacturer profiting off the misery and death in other countries. There is no shame in money, especially if it comes cheap.

About Andreas Salmen

Born and raised in Germany, learned a job in IT and Business and ultimately decided that this wasn't exactly where my life was going to end. Left everything behind to become a writing backpacker instead. The world's crumbling away anyway so why not write about it and get a few good Instagram pics on the way, am I right?

All Articles