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Badge + Evil Corporations = Bananaguns

Man, I really like bananas. They're yummy, nutritious, convenient and a sexy yellow. They go great with peanut butter and chocolate, match my blog's color scheme, and there's no plastic packaging to deal with. Just a great food all around. But back in the spring the lovely banana and I parted ways when Chiquita admitted to hiring paramilitaries in Colombia to keep the local population properly in line with it's feudal operations.
In court documents filed Wednesday, federal prosecutors said the Cincinnati-based company and several unnamed high-ranking corporate officers paid about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC for its Spanish initials.

The AUC has been responsible for some of the worst massacres in Colombia’s civil conflict and for a sizable percentage of the country’s cocaine exports. The U.S. government designated the right-wing militia a terrorist organization in September 2001.

Their punishment? A $25 million fine, irrationally payable to the US Government. Not the Colombian victims, but into the gargantuan red, white and blue money pit.

By the way, Chiquita used to be known as The United Fruit Company, a textbook study of corporate power, racism, exploitation and violence.

So unless I come across a non Chiquita branded fruit of the Musa, yes I have no bananas.

But yesterday a lawsuit was brought against Chiquita on behalf of victims of the paramilitaries. From Democracy Now:
The American fruit giant Chiquita has been hit with a new lawsuit on behalf of victims of Colombian paramilitaries. Earlier this year Chiquita admitted to paying one point seven million dollars to a right-wing Colombian paramilitary group on the U.S. terrorist watch list. On Wednesday, nearly four hundred Colombian plaintiffs filed a civil suit seeking almost eight billion dollars in damages. Plaintiff attorney Jonathan Reiter said Chiquita should be held accountable for the killings it helped fund.

Chiquita says it fell victim to an extortion attempt and made the payments only to protect its employees. But a private investigator hired by the plaintiffs disputed Chiquita’s denials. The investigator, William Acosta, says his findings leave no doubt over Chiquita’s complicity.

Chiquita is already facing another lawsuit from relatives of one-hundred forty-four people killed by Colombian paramilitaries. The company has paid a twenty-five million dollar fine to the U.S. government but none of the money has gone to the victims’ families.

So here we have a corporation who's operations in Colombia rely on co-operation with paramilitary groups to protect their assets. Coincidentally, Colombia is at the center of the US' s misnamed war on drugs, with billions flowing into that country to supposedly combat cocaine production. A cursory glance at the correlation between the rising cost of the drug war and the rising use of cocaine in the US indicates the futility of the program (unless, of course, the purpose isn't to stop the drug trade but to control it, then it makes morbid sense).

Do you think that maybe one of the main reasons that there are paramilitaries in the first place is because of the war on drugs?

The real results of the drug war and corporate agribusiness are the marginalization and exploitation of the local populations, pitting them against each other using manufactured and artificial crises as part of a program of control and domination.


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