Last week I sent a letter to the editor of The Washington Post, in response to a recent AP story concerning the cases against Chiquita for its complicity in human rights abuses in Colombia. While the article shared several compelling stories from the plaintiffs and outlined the history and current status of the cases, it made one key omission that I wanted to address. The Post declined to print the letter, so I’m posting it below:
The Sept. 21 story “Chiquita seeks dismissal of Colombians’ lawsuit seeking damages for paramilitary violence” highlighted the banana company’s funding of death squads in Colombia, and the legal actions that have followed. I am an attorney at EarthRights International, which filed one of the cases that the company is trying to dismiss: a class action on behalf of the victims of Chiquita-funded violence.
The story did well to note that Chiquita pled guilty to supporting terrorism and paid a $25 million fine, but omitted that this fine was paid for the exact conduct that the victims are suing Chiquita for, and that none of this money has gone to any of the victims.
Our government felt that it was in the national interest to prosecute Chiquita in the U.S., partly because its management in Cincinnati made the decision to fund the death squads. Chiquita pled guilty, but now argues that the violence they funded has nothing to do with the United States. Is U.S. justice for supporting terrorism limited to paying fines to the government, rather than actually compensating the victims who lost loved ones to this unconscionable violence?
Marco Simons, Washington D.C.