Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fruit-Sponsored Terror

In 2007, Chiquita Brands International was investigated by the US Dept of Justice for giving $1.7 million of "protection money" to the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), one Colombia's biggest Paramilitary groups. Chiquita paid a court settlement of $25 million for supporting AUC, which the US and EU both label as a terrorist group.

Fast forward to today and Chiquita is back in a US Court, being sued for providing arms and funds to both the AUC and FARC, Colombia's revolutionary guerrilla organization, as well as making a payment to release an American hostage held by the FARC.

This kind of monkeying around reminds me of one of the most blatant incidents of fruit-sponsored terror back in the Fifties in Guatemala. Back when Chiquita Brands International was better known as United Fruit Company, they had a multimillion dollar business importing bananas from Guatemala and other Central American countries. (coining the term 'banana republics'). In 1950, Leftist Jacobo Arbenz was elected President of Guatemala, promising to redistribute much of United Fruit's land to poor peasants. United Fruit responded by launching a lobbying effort for US intervention against the new "communist threat," which was abetted by the fact that CIA director Alan Dulles sat on the board of directors for United Fruit.

What resulted was CIA operation "PBSUCESS," which involved a massive propaganda and psyops campaign, ultimately financing right-wing militants to carry out a succesful coup d'etat against President Arbenz in 1954. The saddest part of this was that the US-sponsored coup opened the doors for a left-wing insurgency and a sectarian civil war that lasted from 1960 to 1990. It at least appears that now the USG has taken initiative in prosecuting Chiquita's recent dealings with Colombian terrorist organizations, running contrary to its history of working with them to destabilize Latin American governments. Moral of the story: Don't want to support terrorism? Buy DOLE bananas.

***Update: Kit has brought to my attention that Dole has also been implicated for colluding with Colombian paramilitaries, and while two civil lawsuits have been brought against the company, there has not yet been a verdict.

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