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Chiquita Banana Seeks to Limit Legal Liability
Chiquita International asks Federal courts to block lawsuits that claim it supported terrorists. Banana harvester and produce import/export giant, Chiquita is accused by the surviving families of those who were killed in Columbia’s decades long civil war. Chiquita, who owner a number of banana plantations in Columbia has admitted to giving $1.7 million over ten years to a “right wing Columbian paramilitary group,” according to the Huffington Post. Yet the company says that it was blackmailed into paying, and chose that option rather than risking its own employee’s lives or its operations. “In 2007 the company pled guilty to U.S. criminal charges that it supported terrorism. It paid a $25 million dollar fine.”
The various lawsuits directed towards the company were “consolidated for pretrial action before a federal judge in West Palm Beach,” where Chiquita is seen to be liable to the deaths of thousands at the terrorists. These are the “AUC” the right wing “Self-Defense Forces of Columbia.” These terrorists have murdered countless and the survivors blame Chiquita for giving them money and enabling them to continue their massacre. Though the surviving relatives who have scrapped together a life have come forward and won “several pretrial rulings,” Chiquita International is now stepping up its game and taking things to another level.
Chiquita is hoping that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will dismiss lawsuits because the company feels that the murders aren’t tied to the company, and that the accusations brought are rather general. Lawyers for Chiquita comment that to say that the company’s payment to the AUC terrorists means that Chiquita in any way condones or had knowledge of the murders it is not a reasonable assumption. Chiquita had formerly paid the leftist extremist group, FARC so that its operations and employees would not be attacked.
Chiquita also expects the ruling in the Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum case that will help them as it limits foreigners’ access to American courts as they seek “accountability and monetary damages for human rights abuses.”
Among the plaintiffs are several women whose families were murdered by the terrorists whom Chiquita had funded. They spoke in anonymity as they live in fear.
“Emerging criminal bands” are forming in the group out of former paramilitary. Reports from one plaintiff include a story about how the AUC descended on her roof and shot her husband and brother. She escaped by taking her baby and jumping over a wall. She reports that she never knew she had the strength to jump over a wall before. “I am fighting for my children, so that they can have some help after all this time.”
Chiquita Spokesman Ed Loyd commented, “We condemn the actions of all groups that perpetuate violence and we have deep consideration and respect for all victims of paramilitary violence, but our employees were victims as well. More than 50 of them were brutally killed, and so we made payments solely to protect their lives.”