Banana-Producer MNC Found Guilty of Funding Foreign Militia

The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a Colombian paramilitary, received financing from Chiquita Brands International, according to a federal court in South Florida. Victims of the militia were ordered by the court to receive $38.3 million from Chiquita. U.S. District Court for Southern Florida jurors found that Chiquita gave AUC considerable aid, which put others in danger. According to the court’s findings, eight of the nine victims were killed by the AUC, which meant that Chiquita was held accountable.

According to EarthRights International, which is also representing the nine victims of the militia, the AUC was like a savage paramilitary hit squad. In 2001, the United States officially recognized the AUC as a terrorist group because of the horrific crimes they committed in the 1990s and 2000s. According to the NSA’s statement, the jury found that Chiquita acted in an unreasonable businesslike manner as there was no proof of real threats from the AUC or that there were any reasonable alternatives to paying them.

After 17 years of litigation, the trial, which spanned several weeks, ultimately concluded with eight men’s families getting $38.3 million in damages after the court found that the AUC was legally responsible for their murders.

Federal investigators investigated Chiquita’s dealings with the AUC after the company voluntarily told them of its payments to the group in April 2003. According to a 2007 sentencing note kept by the NSA, Chiquita paid over $1.7 million to the AUC in over 100 installments between 1997 and Feb. 4, 2004. The defense said that as a result of extortion, Chiquita had no choice but to pay the AUC.

As part of its 2007 guilty plea, Chiquita agreed to pay a $25 million criminal fine and other penalties for conducting business with a specially designated global terrorist. 

The case was heard in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.