A verdict against Chiquita in Colombia

Chiquita, a leading fruit company, has been charged in a Florida court for financing the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a notorious right-wing paramilitary group. This case follows a similar trial in New York in 2007, where Chiquita admitted to funding the AUC and paid a $25 million fine. The company’s defense argues it was extorted, but witnesses, including former AUC commanders, claim the payments were part of a cooperative agreement rather than extortion.

The new trial includes testimonies that Chiquita’s nearly $2 million funding between 1997 and 2004 was aimed at controlling banana production zones and suppressing worker strikes. Witness Ever Veloza García testified that these actions were taken to protect multinational interests and suggested those involved should face imprisonment.

Chiquita’s involvement with violent groups is part of a broader history of exploitation and political manipulation in Latin America. Historically known as the United Fruit Company, Chiquita’s influence included involvement in the 1954 CIA-backed coup in Guatemala and the 1928 “Banana Massacre” in Colombia, where thousands of striking workers were killed.

The Magdalena Medio region, where Chiquita financed right-wing terror, has long been a center of capitalist development and social conflict, marked by extreme exploitation and resistance. This region has a history of labor struggles and insurgent resistance, with a significant number of victims during Colombia’s civil war.

The recent court ruling against Chiquita is significant beyond the $38 million in compensation for victims. It sets a precedent for holding multinationals accountable for their actions and supports ongoing efforts to address the historical and ongoing violence in Colombia. This case also aligns with broader societal changes in Colombia, including the election of the country’s first leftist president, Gustavo Petro, reflecting a push for justice and systemic change.

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