US company Chiquita fined for unlawful act

Published: Monday 30 April 2007

When American writer O'Henry coined the pejorative term banana republic, he most certainly did not have the doings of the banana producer Chiquita in mind. But the us company was recently forced to pay a fine of us $25 million after admitting that it had paid terrorists for protection in a volatile farming region of Colombia.

The settlement resolved a lengthy us justice department investigation into the Cincinnati-based company's financial dealings with right-wing paramilitaries and leftist rebels, which the us government deemed terrorist groups. It was accused of paying us $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia.

The company claimed that the payments were made under duress. But Chiquita's record doesn't merit much benefit of doubt.In 1998, the company's hometown paper, Cincinati Enquirer, found that Chiquita had exposed many localities to pesticides banned in the us and forced the eviction of an entire Honduran village at gunpoint.

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