With the exception of foodies in search of organic, GM-free food, most American families aren’t the least bit interested in where and how food is supplied to local supermarkets.
The bananas supplied to North America come from the hard work and labor of banana-plantation workers. On these plantations just showing up for work can be hazardous to your health.
There are three corporations that distribute bananas: Dole Food, Chiquita and Del Monte, and all three of them are guilty of exploiting workers in developing nations. But one company, Chiquita Brands International, dominates the banana business.
Chiquita is accused of complicity in thousands of deaths by hiring thugs to torture and kill Colombian nationals to suppress union activity on their plantations.
According to Iulia Filp with Court House News, a federal judge has ruled relatives of banana-plantation workers, political and social activists, and other civilians killed by Colombian paramilitary forces may sue Chiquita over claims of torture, extrajudicial killings, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Chiquita Brands International and Chiquita Fresh North America are accused of complicity in hundreds of deaths from payments to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), and arms shipments into Colombia.
The plaintiffs claim Chiquita paid the AUC to drive the guerillas out of Chiquita’s banana-growing areas and used AUC forces to suppress union activity on the plantations.
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, a website that covers the social and environmental impacts of over 5000 companies, indicates the lawsuits against Chiquita in other US federal courts by families of other people were consolidated into one to be tried in federal court in Florida.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra addressed four separate rulings in Florida’s West Palm Beach- and Fort Lauderdale-based federal courts.
According to Centre:
“In April 2011, National Security Archive (NSA), an independent researcher group, published internal Chiquita documents, obtained from the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act. These documents appear to contradict the company’s contention that its payments to the FARC and AUC amounted to “protection” money and that Chiquita never received any actual services in exchange for them.
“In May 2011, the new consolidated lawsuits involved allegations of over 4000 killings of Colombian nationals. On 3 June 2011, the court denied Chiquita’s motion to dismiss all claims brought under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act.
“District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled that the plaintiffs may proceed with their claims against Chiquita alleging torture, extrajudicial killings, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The judge rejected Chiquita’s argument that the case should be dismissed because it could have foreign policy implications.”
August 10th, 2011