Chiquita Terrorist Funding
A federal judge in Florida ruled that “victims of Colombian paramilitary death squads funded by Chiquita” have a right to have their case heard in the United States rather than Colombia, “clearing the way for the historic case to advance toward trial.” The ruling comes nearly a decade after Chiquita pled guilty in 2007 to charges of “engaging in unauthorized transactions” with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), which was designated a global terrorist organization by the US State Department in 2001.
“It’s an important win for the victims of violent groups funded by Chiquita,” said Michael Evans, director of the Archive’s Colombia documentation project, “and a big boost for groups seeking to hold multinational corporations accountable for human rights crimes in US courts.”
Earlier this year, Evans filed an affidavit in the class action lawsuit in which he used Chiquita corporate records obtained through the National Security Archive’s FOIA litigation to identify a dozen individuals connected to the paramilitary payments scheme and who are now potential witnesses for the plaintiffs.
In July 2015 a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should release to the National Security Archive some 9,257 pages of records produced by Chiquita Brands International to the SEC as part of an investigation of the company’s illegal payments to the AUC. The Archive’s FOIA case began in November 2008, when our office filed a pair of FOIA requests with the SEC asking for records relating to SEC and Justice Department investigations of Chiquita’s Colombian subsidiary, Banadex, for violations including the illegal AUC payments.
In April 2011, the Archive published some 5,500 pages of Chiquita’s records released by the Department of Justice in response to similar FOIA requests. Those records revealed that Chiquita benefited from its transactions with both AUC “paramilitary” groups and insurgents from the FARC and ELN guerrilla groups. The records call into question the Justice Department’s determination, spelled out in the 2007 plea deal, that there was no evidence of a quid pro quo with the illegal groups.
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