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Offline Dig

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Lawsuit: Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
By Daniel Tencer
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 -- 4:44 pm

Fruit importer Chiquita Brands International "knowingly provided material support to a terrorist organization" by paying protection money and providing weapons to a Colombian rebel group, a lawsuit filed in a Florida court this week alleges.

Three US citizens who survived a five-year hostage ordeal at the hands of Colombia's notorious FARC paramilitary group, along with the family of a fourth man who was killed by FARC rebels, say Chiquita owes them damages because it paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to FARC for a decade beginning in 1989.

Chiquita "knew that FARC was a terrorist organization and that it kidnapped, killed and terrorized thousands of people in Colombia," the complaint (PDF) states, "but [they] ignored these risks in order to further their own narrow business interests in growing and exporting bananas in Colombia."

The complaint goes on to say that Chiquita "knowingly provided currency or monetary instruments, weapons (including arms and ammunition), and other forms of material support and resources and transport of munitions" to FARC.

Marc Gosalves, Thomas Howes, and Keith Stansell, employees of defense contractor Northrop Grumman, were traveling by plane in Colombia in 2003 when they were shot down by FARC rebels, who immediately killed the plane's pilot, Thomas Janis, and a Colombian guide accompanying them.

Gosalves, Howes and Stansell spent five years as FARC hostages before being released in 2008. All three are parties to the lawsuit, as are five members of Janis' family.

Chiquita was fined $25 million in 2007 for having paid $1.7 million to AUC, a right-wing paramilitary group at odds with FARC. This would suggest that Chiquita played both sides of the long-running military conflict in Colombia.

Chiquita Brands says it was "an extortion victim in Colombia, paying left- and right-wing groups to protect its employees, not to promote violence," reports the Business Courier in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Chiquita Brands is headquartered.

But the lawsuit suggests Chiquita's involvement with FARC may have been more pro-active than simply paying protection money. The suit alleges that the company created dummy corporations and falsified its payroll records to hide payments to FARC, and used its network of local transportation contractors to funnel weapons to the group.

Chiquita has a long and sordid history in Colombia. The most notorious incident took place in 1928, when the company was still known as United Fruit Company. Colombian troops massacred an unknown number of UFC workers -- believed to be in the thousands -- during a protest over bad work conditions on the company's plantations.
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline Femacamper

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 12:43:59 am »
They don't call 'em banana republics for nothin'.
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Offline citizenx

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 01:11:08 am »
How much would that suck to be killed for bananas?

I read today that scientists found the missing link this week between apes and man, and I thought to myself, the apes must be awefully embarassed.  Even apes don't kill each other over bananas.

If there was an office where I could go and turn in my union card as a human being, I would.

Well, the chickens came home to roost anyway.  America is nothing but another banana republic now.  I guess we got what we deserved.

Offline jwest

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 02:43:20 am »
Man, I love Chiquita bananas too.  Darn.

Their commercials used to be funny, too.  You youngsters probably don't even remember those.
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Offline The Way of Things

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 02:54:08 am »

How United Fruit robbed and killed the people of Central America
By Stephen Millies, in Workers World, 3 October 1996

"It's important that I don't get too knowledgeable about the past."

So spoke Wallace Booth on becoming president of United Brands back in 1975. Booth had plenty of reason to wish for amnesia.

After all, he had just succeeded Eli Black who left United Brands by jumping through his office window on the 44th floor of the old Pan Am Building in New York.

Black was just about to be exposed for giving a $1.25-million bribe to the president of Honduras.

United Brands was then the new name for the notorious United Fruit banana monopoly. Now it's got another new name: Chiquita Brands International.

For decades this ruthless corporation dominated the economies of the countries of Central America.

Chiquita still owns or rents over 267 square miles of farmland in Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras. It operates a fleet of 42 refrigerated ships and hundreds of miles of railroad.

In mid-September an agreement was signed in Guatemala between the government and guerrilla commanders. News is finally coming out about the grisly background of the long war there.

In the 1980s alone, the Guatemalan military and its death squads killed over 100,000 people. Entire Indian villages were massacred.

A front-page article in the Sept. 20 New York Times made a rare admission. It said that "the conflict had its roots in a 1954 coup sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency."

The Times then went on to claim that "most of Guatemala's 10.5 million people can no longer remember what started it."

But United Fruit--now Chiquita--remembers.

What brought down the wrath of this company and of the CIA was President Jacobo Arbenz Guzm n's attempt to distribute uncultivated lands owned by United Fruit to landless peasants.

The big Boston banks behind United Fruit were determined that Arbenz must go. President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave the order for a CIA-staged invasion that toppled the elected Guatemalan government.

Among the coup's first victims were 45 assassinated leaders of the banana workers on United Fruit's plantations.

Seven years later, United Fruit paid back its debt to the CIA by donating two of its ships to the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

The Cuban people--under the leadership of Fidel Castro-- remembered well the tragedy of Guatemala. They defeated the CIA invasion. And they took back all the land that United Fruit owned in Cuba--land that today's Helms-Burton Law is meant to return to U.S. corporate owners.

The U.S. capitalist establishment has recently been trying to organize a so-called war-crimes trial in the Netherlands. Its aim is justify U.S. intervention in Bosnia, once part of socialist Yugoslavia.

Where's the war-crimes trial for the massacres in Central America?

For the 100,000-plus victims in Guatemala? For the thousands of victims of Oliver North's Contra war against Nicaragua? And the countless victims of the death squads in El Salvador and Honduras?

U.S. government money paid for this terror. And it was the U.S. Army that trained so many of these assassins at the School of the Americas in Panama--a country itself left with unmarked mass graves and many missing after the U.S. invasion in 1989.

But the U.S. government just did the bidding of United Fruit. United Fruit really should be in the dock.

United Fruit sold its properties in Guatemala to Del Monte in 1972 for $20 million.

Under its new name of Chiquita Brands, it still maintains its empire in the rest of Central America. It's controlled by the Lindner family in Cincinnati through the American Financial Group--a big insurance company.

Just one of these Lindners--Stephen Craig--owned 23,809,445 shares of Chiquita Brands stock in April 1992. Their market value was $351,809,445 at the time.

Meanwhile Del Monte has been gobbled up by RJR Nabisco-- the huge cancer-stick and cookie conglomerate.

Another big player is Castle & Cooke, which owns the Dole brand. (No relation to Bob Dole.)

These are the criminal companies that have benefited from the CIA wars that have left the people of Central America bloodied and impoverished. How can there be justice in Guatemala, or Honduras, or El Salvador, without at the very least a major reparations program paid for by those who became multi-millionaires off the suffering of the people?

Offline The Way of Things

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2010, 02:57:22 am »

Chiquita Brands International and the CIA Behind Honduras Coup?

A banana company overthrows a banana republic leader, who writes this stuff? Woody Allen?

Unfortunately not. It's insiders playing a deadly, ruthless game.

The left leaning, John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, sends along an email with the gory details. Sadly, there are no real heroes in this bunch. One group wants labor rates above market rates, the other wants labor rates below market rates. The insiders will work for whoever pays out the largest in spoils. Here's a solid recap of what is going on, by Perkins, though he tells his story from a naive pro minimum wage view, instead of a more realistic market wage perspective:

I recently visited Central America. Everyone I talked with there was convinced that the military coup that had overthrown the democratically-elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, had been engineered by two US companies, with CIA support. And that the US and its new president were not standing up for democracy.

Earlier in the year Chiquita Brands International Inc. (formerly United Fruit) and Dole Food Co had severely criticized Zelaya for advocating an increase of 60% in Honduras’s minimum wage, claiming that the policy would cut into corporate profits. They were joined by a coalition of textile manufacturers and exporters, companies that rely on cheap labor to work in their sweatshops.

Memories are short in the US, but not in Central America. I kept hearing people who claimed that it was a matter of record that Chiquita (United Fruit) and the CIA had toppled Guatemala’s democratically-elected president Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 and that International Telephone & Telegraph (ITT), Henry Kissinger, and the CIA had brought down Chile’s Salvador Allende in 1973. These people were certain that Haiti’s president Jean-Bertrand Aristide had been ousted by the CIA in 2004 because he proposed a minimum wage increase, like Zelaya’s.

I was told by a Panamanian bank vice president, “Every multinational knows that if Honduras raises its hourly rate, the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean will have to follow. Haiti and Honduras have always set the bottom line for minimum wages. The big companies are determined to stop what they call a ‘leftist revolt’ in this hemisphere. In throwing out Zelaya they are sending frightening messages to all the other presidents who are trying to raise the living standards of their people.”
It did not take much imagination to envision the turmoil sweeping through every Latin American capital. There had been a collective sign of relief at Barack Obama’s election in the U.S., a sense of hope that the empire in the North would finally exhibit compassion toward its southern neighbors, that the unfair trade agreements, privatizations, draconian IMF Structural Adjustment Programs, and threats of military intervention would slow down and perhaps even fade away. Now, that optimism was turning sour.

The cozy relationship between Honduras’s military coup leaders and the corporatocracy were confirmed a couple of days after my arrival in Panama. England’s The Guardian ran an article announcing that “two of the Honduran coup government's top advisers have close ties to the US secretary of state. One is Lanny Davis, an influential lobbyist who was a personal lawyer for President Bill Clinton and also campaigned for Hillary. . . The other hired gun for the coup government that has deep Clinton ties is (lobbyist) Bennett Ratcliff.”

DemocracyNow! broke the news that Chiquita was represented by a powerful Washington law firm, Covington & Burling LLP, and its consultant, McLarty Associates).

President Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder had been a Covington partner and a defender of Chiquita when the company was accused of hiring “assassination squads” in Colombia (Chiquita was found guilty, admitting that it had paid organizations listed by the US government as terrorist groups “for protection” and agreeing in 2004 to a $25 million fine).

George W. Bush’s UN Ambassador, John Bolton, a former Covington lawyer, had fiercely opposed Latin American leaders who fought for their peoples’ rights to larger shares of the profits derived from their resources; after leaving the government in 2006, Bolton became involved with the Project for the New American Century, the Council for National Policy, and a number of other programs that promote corporate hegemony in Honduras and elsewhere. McLarty Vice Chairman John Negroponte was U.S. Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985, former Deputy Secretary of State, Director of National Intelligence, and U.S. Representative to the United Nations; he played a major role in the U.S.-backed Contra’s secret war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government and has consistently opposed the policies of the democratically-elected pro-reform Latin American presidents. These three men symbolize the insidious power of the corporatocracy, its bipartisan composition, and the fact that the Obama Administration has been sucked in.

The Los Angeles Times went to the heart of this matter when it concluded:

What happened in Honduras is a classic Latin American coup in another sense: Gen. Romeo Vasquez, who led it, is an alumnus of the United States' School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). The school is best known for producing Latin American officers who have committed major human rights abuses, including military coups.

Offline The Way of Things

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2010, 03:03:08 am »
I suggest you follow the link, rather than just viewing the body of the piece I have posted, so you can view the .pdf documents.


Company's Paramilitary Payoffs made through Military's 'Convivir'

U.S. Embassy told of "potential" for groups "to devolve into full-fledged paramilitaries"

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 217
Edited by Michael Evans

Washington D.C., March 29, 2007 - New documents published today by the National Security Archive shed light on recent revelations about the links between bananas and terror in Colombia and the Colombian government's own ties to the country's illegal paramilitary forces.

The scandal is further detailed in an article by National Security Archive Colombia analyst Michael Evans published today on the Web site of The Nation magazine.

The March 9, 2007, indictment against Chiquita Brands International sheds light on both corporate and state ties to Colombia's illegal paramilitary forces.
Earlier this month, Chiquita, the international fruit corporation, admitted to funding a Colombian terrorist group and agreed to pay a $25 million fine. The Justice Department indictment, filed March 13 in D.C. Federal Court, states that Chiquita gave more than $1.7 million to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia - AUC), an illegal right-wing anti-guerrilla group tied to many of the country's most notorious civilian massacres.

Key documents from the Chiquita case, along with a collection of newly-available declassified documents, are posted here today.

The payments were made over seven years from 1997-2004. At least $825,000 in payments came after the AUC was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department in 2001.

Many of these payments were made through "intermediaries" in a Colombian government-sponsored program known as Convivir, a network of rural security cooperatives established by the military to police rural areas and provide intelligence on leftist insurgents. Declassified documents suggest that Convivir members often collaborated with paramilitary operations.

The Convivir connection is especially important now, as current President Álvaro Uribe was a key sponsor of the program while governor of Anitoquia department. Antioquia's banana-growing Urabá region is also the locus of Chiquita's Colombia operations. As president, Uribe has implemented similar programs involving the use of civilian informants and soldiers.

The article published today, along with additional documents included here, describes a pattern of increasingly-strong links between military and paramilitary forces in Urabá over the period of Chiquita's payments to the AUC. Chiquita's relationship with the group coincided with a massive projection of paramilitary power thoughout Colombia. U.S. officials strongly suspected that these operations were at least tolerated by--and at times coordinated with--Colombian security forces.

The Chiquita-Convivir scandal comes as the Los Angeles Times has published a report that the CIA has new information connecting Colombia's Army chief, Gen. Mario Montoya, one of President Uribe's top advisers, to a paramilitary group. The new allegation adds fuel to the "para-politics" scandal, which has already taken down several top government officials and implicated many others in connection to the AUC.

Today's posting is the first in a series of new Archive postings on the U.S. government's perception of Colombia's paramiltary movement and its links to Colombian security forces. Under a program developed by the Uribe government to disarm and demobilize the AUC, paramilitary leaders are eligible for reduced prison sentences in exchange for voluntary confessions and the payment of reparations to their victims. However, the commission established to adjudicate this process is not authorized to investigate state crimes or the history of the government's links to paramilitary forces.

Documents made available on the Archive Web site today include:

the Justice Department's indictment in the Chiquita case, detailing the company's relationship with AUC chief Carlos Castaño, the fugitive (and now deceased) paramilitary leader;
a U.S. Embassy cable in which Colombia's police intelligence chief "sheepishly" admitted that his forces "do not act" in parts of the country under AUC control;
another Embassy cable in which Ambassador Myles Frechette warned that the government's Convivir program was liable to "degenerate into uncontrolled paramilitary groups";
a U.S. military intelligence report on a Colombian Army colonel who told of the "potential" for the Convivir "to devolve into full-fledged paramilitaries";
and CIA reports on the Colombian Army's paramilitary ties, one of which found that armed forces commanders had "little inclination to combat paramilitary groups."
The full article is available on the Web site of The Nation.

The following documents are in PDF format.
You will need to download and install the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.
NOTE: With the exception of the Justice Department indictment, all documents published here were obtained by the Archive's Colombia Documentation Project through Freedom of Information Act requests.


United States of America v. Chiquita Brands International, Inc., Defendant, March 13, 2007

The indictment details Chiquita's seven-year relationship with Carlos Castaño's AUC. The paramilitary chief arranged the payments in 1997 with Banadex, a wholly-owned Chiquita subsidiary. Castaño "informed the [Banadex] General Manager that the AUC was about to drive the FARC [guerrillas] out of Urabá," and also that "failure to make the payments could result in physical harm to Banadex personnel and property."

The company was to "make payments to an intermediary known as a 'convivir,'" groups used by the AUC "as fronts to collect money from businesses for use to support its illegal activities." The Convivir were rural security cooperatives established by the military to police rural areas and provide intelligence on leftist insurgents.

The Justice Department lists some 50 payments made by Chiquita after the State Deparment designated the AUC a terrorist organization in September 2001. The company made at least 19 of these payments after the company voluntarily disclosed the payments to the Justice Department in April 2003, and despite strong warnings from its lawyers to terminate the relationship.

"Must stop payments," read one note quoted in the indictment.

"General Rule: Cannot do indirectly what you cannot do directly."

"You voluntarily put yourself in this position. Duress defense can wear out through repetition. Buz [business] decision to stay in harm's way. Chiquita should leave Colombia."


Document 1: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, Botero Human Rights Letter to A/S Shattuck, December 9, 1994

The U.S. Embassy was skeptical when first confronted with the Colombian defense ministry's plan to create the network of "rural security cooperatives" that would ultimately come to be known as Convivir. In a cable that covered an array of human rights issues, Ambassador Myles Frechette was emphatic about the proposal's inherent dangers:

"We believe that the point that needs to be made to the minister is that Colombia's protracted, vaguely ideological internal conflict is quite sui generis and that there has never been an example in Colombia of a para-statal security group that has not ultimately operated with wanton disregard for human rights or been corrupted by local economic interests."

Document 2: U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Information Report, Colar 17th Brigade Responsible for the Uraba Antioquia Region, April 29, 1996

This report from the U.S. military attaché in Colombia describes the security situation in Urabá, the region where much of Chiquita's operations are located. The document describes a tense situation involving ongoing struggles between EPL and FARC guerrillas, "fighting each other for control of unions and politics in the banana area." According to the indictment, from 1989 until the AUC payments began in 1997, Chiquita had been making similar payments to Colombian guerilla groups. The commander of the Army's local 17th Brigade, Gen. Rito Alejo del Río, told the attaché "that paramilitaries are the only individuals that subversive elements fear."

Document 3: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, Samper Hosts Governors' Meeting on Crime, October 9, 1996

Following a meeting with Colombian President Ernesto Samper and other government officials, the U.S. Embassy reported that Antioquia Governor Álvaro Uribe (the current president of Colombia) had called for "the proliferation of the controversial civilian rural security cooperatives known collectively as 'Convivir.'" Uribe said that the Convivir had "led to the capture of guerrilla leaders in the region," and called on the government to arm some of the groups. The Embassy adds the comment that "most human rights observers believe the Convivir groups pose a serious danger of becoming little more that vigilante organizations." The government's human rights ombudsman had "begun to receive complaints against these groups for exceeding their mandate," according to the Embassy report.

Document 4: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, 40,000 Colombians March to Protest Wave of Kidnappings; Paramilitary Group Releases Two Guerrilla Relatives, December 2, 1996

In a testament to the AUC's growing influence among Colombian security forces, Colombia's police intelligence chief "sheepishly" told U.S. Embassy officers that "the police 'do not act' in the part of Urabá under [Carlos] Castano's control." The statement came in response to an Embassy query as to why Colombian police had not arrested Castaño, "who had openly admitted to kidnapping guerrilla relatives."

Document 5: U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Information Report, Colombian Prosecutor Comments on Paramilitaries in Uraba, December 7, 1996

Paramilitaries had become "a law unto themselves" in Urabá constituting "a potentially greater threat to the government than ... the guerrillas," according to this military intelligence report, based on comments from a Colombian prosecutor. The document describes the violence there as "basically a turf war to determine which group [paramilitaries or guerrillas] will control the rich banana-growing region (and the lucrative illicit narcotics operations within it)." The report adds that, "The military's influence and control over paramilitaries that we so often logically assume to exist may, in fact, be tenuous at best and non-existent in some cases."

Document 6: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, Retired Army Colonel Lambastes Military for Inaction Against Paramilitaries, January 11, 1997

In January 1997, retired Army Colonel Carlos Alfonso Velásquez publicly criticized the Colombian Army, particularly 17th Brigade Commander Gen. Rito Alejo del Río, for tolerance of paramilitary forces in Urabá. In this cable, the U.S. Embassy characterizes Velásquez as a man of "unquestionable integrity," adding that his statements "bring extra pressure to bear on the Colombian military" and "add credibility" to the State Department's critical human rights report on Colombia.

Document 7: U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Information Report, Guerrillas Launch New Wave of Bombings in Uraba and Cordoba -- Paramilitaries Respond with Murder and Kidnappings (Laser Strike), March 14, 1997

U.S. military intelligence reports ongoing violence in Urabá, noting that, "Recent events contrast sharply with earlier 17th Brigade reports claiming that Uraba had largely been pacified." The report says it remains unclear whether a recent shift by FARC guerillas to "terrorist-style bombings" represents "a long-term FARC strategy, or a temporary tactic for retaliating against the paramilitaries for driving them out of certain conflictive zones and discouraging the civilian population from assisting paramilitary organizations." The document adds that the Colombian government had only recently "acknowledged that paramilitaries are a valid threat to public order that requires attention."

Document 8: U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Information Report, The Convivir in Antioquia -- Becoming Institutionalized and Spreading Its Reach, April 7, 1997

In this document, an undisclosed source describes how the Convivir operate in Antioquia. The interlocutor was "insistent that there are striking differences between the legal ... sanctioned Convivirs and the illegal paramilitaries that are declared enemies of the state." The Convivir are merely "one more 'legal tool' for integrating counterguerrilla-oriented elements into society."

Document 9: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, MoD Alleged to have Authorized Illegal Arms Sales to Convivirs and Narcotraffickers, April 9, 1997

In April 1997, a Colombian magazine published allegations that officials in Colombia's Ministry of Defense had illegally sold weapons to Convivir linked to narcotraffickers and paramilitaries. This highly-excised document indicates that U.S. Embassy military and diplomatic contacts had "lent a significant degree of credibility to the allegations."

Document 10: U.S. State Department, cable, Bedoya Call for Militia, April 11, 1997

In this cable, the State Department's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Latin America, Peter Romero, criticizes a new plan by Gen. Harold Bedoya, the armed forces commander, to create "national militias." Romero mentions problems the government has had with the Convivir program, adding that "establishing yet another set of armed combatants would, if experience is any guide, bring a host of more flagrant human rights abuses."

Document 11: CIA, Intelligence Report, Colombia: Paramilitaries Gaining Strength, June 13, 1997

This CIA report finds "scant indication that the [Colombian] military leadership is making an effort to directly confront the paramilitary groups or to devote men or resources to stop their activities in an amount commensurate with the dimensions of the problem." Logistical problems and the "popular perception that the military is 'losing the war' against the guerrillas" has had a profound effect on military forces. As a result of these frustrations, "informational links and instances of active coordination between military and paramilitaries are likely to continue," according the the CIA.

The following month--in an operation that signalled the beginning of a major expansion of paramilitary power throughout Colombia--Urabá-based paramilitaries under the direction of Carlos Castaño would massacre some 30 civilians at Mapiripán, an act later shown to have been facilitated by local military forces.

Document 12: U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Information Report, Senior Colombian Army Officer Biding His Time During Remainder of Samper Regime, July 15, 1997

A "senior Colombian Army officer" told U.S. offiicials in July 1997 that there were "serious problems with the legal 'Convivir' movement," according to this military intelligence report. The unnamed officer compared the Convivir to the "Rondas Campesinas" in Peru, calling them "very difficult to control." According to the colonel, the Ministry of Defense was aware of the "potential for Convivir's to devolve into full-fledged paramilitaries," but was "reluctant to admit it publicly."

Document 13: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, Scandal Over Army Request to Convivir in Antioquia, October 8, 1997

This cable reports on the October 1997 revelation by Colombian Senator Fabio Valencia that a high-ranking Colombian Army officer had circulated a memo asking local Convivir organizations to "to send the Army lists of local candidates, including their political affiliations, degree of acceptance among the people, their sympathies toward democratic institutions, government and military forces, and what degree of local influence they wield."

Document 14: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, Paramilitary Massacres Leave 21 Dead, November 24, 1997

After Mapiripán, one of the next major projections of paramilitary power in Colombia was the November 21, 1997, La Horqueta massacre, in which paramilitaries killed 14 people in a village outside the Colombian capital. Eyewitnesses believed the attackers came from Colombia's northern coast, which the Embassy notes is "home of Carlos Castaño's paramilitary group." A prominent Colombian expert told the Embassy that the massacre "sent a message to the FARC that the paramilitaries can go anywhere and do anything." "The fact that no trace of the killers has turned up yet despite the presence of hundreds of police and soldiers in the wake of the killings is not encouraging," according to the cable.

Document 15: CIA, Intelligence Report, Colombia: Update on Links Between Military, Paramilitary Forces, December 2, 1997

This highly-excised CIA report states that "prospects for a concerted effort by the military high command to crack down on paramilitaries--and the officers that cooperate with them--appear dim." Both the current and former armed forces chiefs--Gens. Manuel Bonett and Harold Bedoya--had shown "little inclination to combat paramilitary groups." Tacit acceptance of paramilitary operations by some officers "are longstanding and will not be easily reversed," according to the report.

The CIA calls the recent paramilitary expansion into traditionally guerrilla-controlled territory "the most significant change we have seen in recent months and one which has further degraded Colombia's already poor security and human rights situation." The Mapiripán massacre was one notable example. One intelligence source told the CIA "that Castano would not have flown forces and weapons into a civilian airport known to have a large police presence if he had not received prior assurances that they would be allowed to pass through."

Document 16: U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, Intelligence Information Report, Cashiered Colonel Talks Freely about the Army He Left Behind (Laser Strike), December 24, 1997

There is a "body count syndrome" in the Colombian Army's counterinsurgency strategy that "tends to fuel human rights abuses by otherwise well-meaning soldiers trying to get their quota to impress superiors," according to a recently-retired Colombian Army colonel whose comments form the basis of this intelligence report. According to the officer, the obsession with body counts is in part responsible for commanders "allowing the paramilitaries to serve as proxies for the [Colombian army] in contributing to the guerrilla body count." The 17th Brigade in Urabá had been cooperating with paramilitaries "for a number of years," he said, but it "had gotten much worse" under the command of Gen. Rito Alejo del Río. Gen. Del Río was later indicted but ultimately acquitted of collusion with paramilitaries by the Prosecutor General's office in May 2003.

The officer was critical of several other high-level military commanders, including Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora, who would later serve as armed forces commander. Mora had a clean public reputation, according to the officer, but was "probably was one of those who looked the other way" with respect to collaboration with paramilitaries. Former armed forces commander Gen. Harold Bedoya "fell into the same category," in that both officers "never allowed themselves to become directly involved in encouraging or supporting paramilitary activities, but they turned their backs to what was happening and felt the [Colombian army] should in no way be blamed for any resulting human rights atrocities committed."

Document 17: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, Narcos Arrested for La Horqueta Paramilitary Massacre, January 28, 1998

One of the perpetrators of the November 1997 La Horqueta massacre (see Document 14) was identified as the president of an Urabá-based Convivir, according to this U.S. Embassy cable. The Convivir member was "imported to the region" by a "local landowner and presumed narcotrafficker who had hired ... Uraba-based paramilitaries to execute the massacre."

The local Army 13th Brigade was "strangely non-reactive" to the killings, according to the cable. The brigade, the Embassy adds, "recently came under the command of BG Rito Alejo del Rio, who earned considerable attention as the commander of the 17th Brigade covering the heartland of Carlos Castano's paramilitaries in Cordoba and Uraba."

Document 18: CIA, Intelligence Report, Colombia: Paramilitaries Assuming a Higher Profile, August 31, 1998

Similar to a previous document on the matter, this CIA report finds that "some senior military officers--already suspicious of the peace process and frustrated with the military's dismal performance on the battlefield--may increasingly view turning a blind eye--and perhaps even offering tacit support to--the paramilitaries as their best option for striking back at the guerrillas." Like the previous report, this one also predicts that "informational links and instances of active coordination between the military and the paramilitaries" were "likely to continue and perhaps even increase."

Document 19: U.S. Embassy Bogotá, cable, A Closer Look at Uribe's Auxiliary Forces, September 11, 2002

Soon after taking office in 2002, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe announced that a key aspect of his national security strategy would involve the use of civilian soldiers organized into local militias. Key portions of this U.S. Embassy cable on the use of "auxiliary forces" were deleted before release by the State Department, suggesting that the Embassy may have harbored reservations about the program based on the government's previous experience with the Convivir.

Offline uwaf

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2010, 10:33:19 am »
Is anything sacred? >:(

Offline jeremystalked1

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2010, 11:29:10 am »
The 100 mile diet is better for local economies, and it doesn't support death squads in foreign countries.

Agriculture is more efficient on a small scale, any way.

You could set up a hydroponic farm in your basement or in a greenhouse with a small investment, and be self-sufficient with very little square footage.

Offline Dig

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2010, 12:01:53 pm »
Chiquita in Columbia and Dole in Nicaragua (how many fruit companies does the CIA operate?)

BANANAS!* trailer

Dole sues "Bananas" documentary maker
July 09, 2009|Victoria Kim

Earlier this year, Dole Food Co. won a major victory in the L.A. courts when a judge threw out lawsuits brought by Nicaraguan banana workers purportedly rendered sterile by pesticide, saying the plaintiffs' case was a product of massive fraud. Now Dole is headed back to court but this time, it's Dole that's claiming to be the victim. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Dole accused a Swedish filmmaker behind a documentary shown at last month's Los Angeles Film Festival of slander and libel. The film "Bananas!" by Fredrik Gertten chronicles a 2007 case against Dole from the Nicaraguans' point of view and prominently features L.A. attorney Juan J. Dominguez, who now faces contempt charges. In light of the judge's finding of fraud by the plaintiffs' attorneys, Dole attorneys contend in the complaint that "Bananas!" unfairly demonizes Dole and is riddled with factual inaccuracies.

Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney, in a 60-page ruling dismissing two pending lawsuits, said attorneys for the Nicaraguans engaged in a brazen scheme to recruit men who had never worked on banana plantations, train them to lie on the stand and fabricate medical evidence to back up the claims. Gertten could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but Richard J. Lee -- an attorney representing Gertten and producer Margarete Jangard, who is also named as a defendant -- said, "We believe that this suit is without merit and represents the latest in a continued line of intimidating harassment by a multinational corporation aimed squarely at a small, independent film and its filmmakers." In a statement distributed at the screenings, Gertten defended his film and its portrayal of the 2007 trial, which ended with a partial victory for the Nicaraguans with a $1.58-million verdict for some of the plaintiffs. An appellate court this week moved one step closer to that case being thrown out, ruling that the plaintiffs must show it was not fraudulent.

"Everything I filmed is the truth: It's what my cameras captured and how this all played out during this trial," Gertten wrote in the statement. "Having 'Bananas!' now in the public arena and being able to discuss and defend my film will be a great thing for all of us involved." After Chaney's ruling, attorneys for Dole sent a number of "cease and desist" letters to the filmmaker and the festival, calling the film false and defamatory and threatening litigation. The festival, which the Los Angeles Times is a sponsor of, pulled the documentary from competition but kept the two scheduled screenings, presenting it as a "case study" on responsible filmmaking. At the festival screenings, extra frames were added to the end of the film with text explaining the latest developments in the case, including Chaney's finding of fraud. Dole's attorneys, however, said those changes were anything but adequate. "These few lines of printed text did nothing to remove or mitigate the utter falsity of what was communicated" in the film, they wrote. The festival was not named in the lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Going 'Bananas!': Documentary draws Dole's ire as plot ripens
Linda Deutsch - The Associated Press | Posted: Sunday, June 21, 2009 12:10 am

This undated still image taken from the documentary "Bananas!" provided by WG Film shows Los Angeles attorney Juan Dominguez, left, addressing Nicaraguan banana plantation workers. The film by Fredrik Gertten is about claims by purported Nicaraguan banana workers that they were harmed by a pesticide used on Dole plantations in the 1970s and a trial which was held on the issue. But what is not included in the film is a series of recent post-trial hearings in which a California judge concluded that the claims brought by a Los Angeles lawyer, Juan J. Dominguez, were a massive fraud designed to extort millions from Dole.

A documentary on Nicaraguan banana workers who claimed they became sterile from pesticides is set for its American premiere on Saturday -- unless a threatened lawsuit stops the show. Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten's film "Bananas!" might now be more appropriately punctuated with a question mark after a judge declared its star, a Los Angeles lawyer, a fraud for recruiting plaintiffs to lie. Attorney Juan J. Dominguez previously won a $1.5 million award for the purported workers before being discredited by Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney as the engineer of a massive scheme targeting Dole Food Co. in cases in the U.S. and Central America. The cases sought more than $40 billion in damages. The fraud was not uncovered until the film was finished, and questions are swirling about whether the filmmaker has an ethical obligation to change the documentary. The Los Angeles Film Festival has pulled the documentary from contention for a prize. It also plans a discussion about the perils of wrapping a documentary production before a story has reached its conclusion.

Festival director Rebecca Yeldham did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Friday. Gertten, 53, stands by the film and his experiences interviewing workers in Nicaragua. "I haven't seen any fraud. If I saw it, I would publish it," he said. "This film is valid. I hope Dole will understand it is a legitimate piece of work. ... I believe in freedom of speech and telling the story as I saw it." Gertten would not provide an advance copy of the movie to The Associated Press. However, a trailer on his Web site shows a man in his coffin with a voiceover from one of his relatives saying: "Every time a banana worker who was exposed to this chemical dies, that is a victory for Dole. Every death is another victory."

Dole attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr. said Gertten has refused to let Dole representatives see the film before it is screened. "This isn't complex and it isn't remotely a free speech or artistic expression issue," Boutrous said. "Mr. Gertten got duped, but he won't admit it and instead apparently is intent on screening a knowingly false film." Dole has threatened to sue for defamation if the film is shown and then distributed commercially. "Bananas!", which has the subtitle "On Trial for Malice," documents the plight of workers who say they were made sterile by the pesticide DBCP used on Dole banana plantations in the 1970s. It uses footage of a trial against Dole and details the efforts of Dominguez to help the workers. An advance review in the LA Weekly says the film portrays Dominguez as "the unquestioned man-of-the-people hero," seeking justice for downtrodden workers. But Judge Chaney said Dominguez and his Nicaraguan counterpart recruited men to pretend they had been banana workers and to make false allegations against Dole. Chaney heard testimony that the men recruited by Dominguez were given false work histories and schooled in what it would have been like to work on a plantation. Some denied fathering their own children in their attempt to prove sterility.

The judge said if she had known the extent of the fraud, she would have stopped the trial over which she presided -- the same trial depicted in the movie. The case is now being appealed. Chaney dismissed two other similar cases brought by Dominguez after hearing testimony. "Contrary to their sworn testimony, most of the plaintiffs never worked on Dole-affiliated banana farms and none were involved in the DBCP application process," Chaney wrote in a 60-page dismissal ruling issued Wednesday. "These plaintiffs and their counsel were part of a broader conspiracy that permeates all DBCP litigation arising from Nicaragua," it said. Chaney was shown the trailer for the movie but said she would not intercede in its release because that would be impermissible prior restraint on free speech. Dominguez's lawyer, Michael McCarthy, has told the AP his client is not being treated fairly by the court. He would not comment further. Gertten said he is a former journalist who has produced or directed more than 20 documentaries, most of them on human interest subjects. He said "Bananas!" was made with support from a number of public broadcasting companies across Europe and the Sundance Channel.

"I'm not an activist filmmaker," he said, adding he was drawn to the subject when he heard that former banana workers had been camped outside the Nicaraguan Parliament in Managua for years demanding justice for being harmed by pesticides. He went there to see for himself. Gertten said that if the accusations against Dominguez are true, "Of course it's terrible, but it's a complex situation." In light of the controversy, film festival directors removed "Bananas!" from competition and placed it on the program as a case study. Viewers at the planned screening will be given written material about the developments in the case and hear a statement that attempts to place the film's subject matter in context with Chaney's ruling. It will be followed by a discussion of the plight of a documentarian when a story continues to develop after the film is completed. Gertten has also added a written card at the end explaining that the case depicted is on appeal and there are ongoing developments. He repeatedly cited Judge Chaney's remark in her initial ruling that because of the fraud, "We will never know what happened in Nicaragua." Asked if he now feels victimized by Dominguez, Gertten said, "Right now, I'm being victimized by Dole Food Co. I have to find out what really happened. Maybe that's my next film."
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline The Way of Things

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2010, 04:51:20 am »
Well...I'm still not gonna stop putting Chiquita banana slices in my cereal. 

"Give me bananas, or give me death" - Me, c. 2010

Offline happyJoy

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2010, 05:55:29 pm »
Great posts here, the real history should always be presented, repeatedly for those who are seeking truth. My eyes opened in 1974, but for everyone - keep it comin'.

But there are alternatives to supporting murderous corporations, such as..

Lots of subterfuge among supposed Fair Trade outfits too, but we should seek alternatives.
Chiquita, Dole, etc.. pesticides and GMO can't do you any good anyhow.

Another bucket of blood under the bridge, you learn to love bridges and never look down. - HST

Offline networkacid

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2010, 08:19:35 pm »
Man, I love Chiquita bananas too.  Darn.

They're just an ordinary banana with a Chiquita sticker on it.

Offline citizenx

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Re: ***Chiquita fruit company ‘funded death squads’ in Colombia
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2010, 08:50:23 pm »
"Sometimes, a banana is just a banana, Anna."