Chiquita sued over FARC payments
Following litigation against Chiquita Brands International for its payments to Colombia's right-wing paramilitaries, the families of five missionaries and lay workers with the Florida-based New Tribes Mission killed by the FARC guerillas in 1994-5 have filed suit against the company in federal court in Miami. The 63-page complaint claims Chiquita provided "numerous and substantial hidden payments" to the rebels in addition to weapons and supplies, amounting to support for "acts of terrorism."
Chiquita spokesman Ed Loyd said the company made payments to FARC during the 1990s to ensure the safety of Chiquita employees working on banana plantations near the Panamanian border, a former guerilla stronghold. Later, after FARC was forced out of the region by the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), Chiquita continued the practice of paying for protection. "We always acted to protect the lives of our employees, and the threat was very real," Loyd said. (NYT, March 17)