Blood Bananas

I found this article by Ryan Beiler on Sojourner’s website:

red bananas

A recent USA Today article summarized the scandal well. This was my quote of the week for SojoMail today:

Chiquita’s money helped buy weapons and ammunition used to kill innocent victims of terrorism. Simply put, defendant Chiquita funded terrorism.

That’s the U.S. Justice Department, in court filings last month against Chiquita for paying off right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia. Here’s the rest of the story, Harpers Index-style:

  • $1.7 million – amount Chiquita paid the Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC), a right-wing paramilitary organziation responsible for the majority of human rights abuses in Colombia’s armed conflict
  • $25 million – amount Chiquita was fined after pleading guilty of paying money to a terrorist organization
  • $49.4 million – profits reaped by Chiquita from its Colombian operations between Sept. 10, 2001, when the AUC was designated a terrorist group, and January 2004, when its payments stopped. That’s a number to keep in mind when Chiquita protests that it was merely trying to protect its workers.
  • 173 – Colombians allegedly murdered and in some cases tortured by right-wing militias that received payments from Chiquita, whose families are now suing the company.
  • 4,000 – number of people killed in the Uraba banana-growing region during the period when Chiquita admits to paying the AUC.
  • 1989 until 1997 – years during which Chiquita paid left-wing guerillas before the region in which they operated was taken over by the AUC

And if this makes you not want to eat Chiquita bananas, here’s some more bad news:

A spreading investigation in Colombia into what is being called the “para-politics” scandal may ensnare other corporate targets. Former AUC leader Salvatore Mancuso in May told the newspaper El Tiempo in Bogota that all banana producers had paid for protection, including Dole and Del Monte. Mancuso, who was jailed after turning himself in as part of an ongoing government-backed demobilization, said his group received 1 cent for every dollar of bananas exported. “All of the banana companies paid us. Every one of them,” Mancuso told the newspaper.

And one more closing thought:

“It may be true (that) you could not operate in these areas without paying the AUC. If it were al-Qaeda, that wouldn’t be a defense,” says Terry Collingsworth, an attorney with the International Labor Rights Fund, which has filed lawsuits against several corporations, including Chiquita, over their activities in Colombia.

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


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  1. #1 by Jason on November 7, 2007 - 12:14 am

    I’m gonna go in the kitchen and make a little Ayers rock with my son’s play-doh in yer honor.

  2. #2 by lovewillbringustogether on November 7, 2007 - 2:12 am

    I’m going to Ayer’s Rock ( though thanks to political correctness and aboriginal reconciliation ( kind of) it now has to be known as ‘Uluru’ from the local owner’s dialect) and Vege-mite come too!.

    You don’t actually EAT the stuff do you Chris?? we use it as shoe-polish – we only tell the Americans we eat and like it as a Joke! – man I NEVER thought anyone would fall for that?? 🙂

    Love you guys! “… once you get used to it.. hahahahahaha!”

  3. #3 by Jason on November 7, 2007 - 4:26 am


    I thought that was the black woman on Star Trek

  4. #4 by BuddyO on November 7, 2007 - 10:14 am

    Love, I was not reffering to ‘Fair Trade’ in a general sense. I was referring to the Fair Trade Initiative.

    Actually we are quite concious about where our goods come from. In our Simple Church we have been discussing ways to shift even more to the local economy (very local).

    Sorry, your discourse was well thought out, however I’m afriad it was for naught.

  5. #5 by Jason on November 7, 2007 - 10:47 am

    Mr. O,

    “Simple Church we have been discussing ways to shift even more to the local economy (very local).”

    cool! have you found any good resources?

  6. #6 by Christian on November 7, 2007 - 11:10 am

    While waiting for Buddy’s reply to Jasons question we bring you this message from someone perhaps worth sponsoring:

  7. #7 by BuddyO on November 7, 2007 - 12:37 pm

    Big J-Bird,

    Here’s some of the stuff we are doing/planning:
    – Several of us have large gardens so we’ve been canning/freezing and sharing (can’t get more local than that!)
    – We are investigating going in together on a locally raised pig from an amish farm in PA. One pig should last two families quite a ways into the winter.
    – We regularly support one of two local produce markets.
    – For thanksgiving we have ordered a free range turkey from a local farmer.
    – For food that can’t be obtained locally, we are conscious of looking for the Fair Trade logo. I have found that COSTCO believe it or not carries a large selection of Fair Trade goods as well as true Organic products; thier ‘house brand’ coffee is even Fair Trade. We also frequent a local Organic Market which has a whole slew of responsible and organic products (although sometimes a bit pricey)

    For non-food:
    – We make an effort to do our gift/christamas shopping with local “mom-pop” shop owners and artisans. We have a couple of really cool eclectic type towns close by which make this easy.
    – We support our local “spirit-shop” 😉 .
    – We have started a “tradition” to meet for breakfast before our Simple Church at our Firehouse monthly pancake breakfast. Not that this supports the ‘ecomnomy’ per sey, but it does support and connect us with our local community.

    This all seems like common sense stuff, but it does make a difference.

  8. #8 by lovewillbringustogether on November 7, 2007 - 9:53 pm

    Hi Buddy – what a wonderful sounding initiative!

    Had not heard much about it before but i hope to in future – you may like to keep us al updated and thinking along similar lines on it?

    As for my discourse being for naught – we all get out what we can of what we read – here and elsewhere..

    “The fact remains that if you use a measure biased some way in your favour it is very rarely if ever going to give a ‘fair’ ( to ALL) result.”

    You were not discarding this particular ‘Pearl in what i wrote above…. were you?? 😉

    My MAIN ‘attack’ was upon biased ‘free trade agreements’ that are free mostly only in name because the inbuilt bias is being missed.

    But there were ‘other’ messages in what i wrote as well, not aimed specifically or in any way meant to deride you or what and Who you Believe in – quite the reverse in fact. I may mention people by name but please – everyone – understand that what i write i am conscious of writing to ALL.

    We do bear in mind that what is written here can be read by anyone anywhere anytime… right?

    I’m not paranoid… they reallly ARE coming to get me ! 😉


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