Banana Giant Chiquita Must Pay Over 8 Murders

Families sued in Florida court over killings by Colombian paramilitary funded by company
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2024 2:04 PM CDT
Chiquita Held Liable for 8 Murders
A file photo of Chiquita trucks in Gulfport, Miss.   (AP Photo/The Sun Herald, John Fitzhugh)

The banana conglomerate Chiquita has lost a civil case in Florida, and the stakes are unusually chilling: The company has been found liable for eight murders carried out by a paramilitary group in Colombia, reports the BBC. Chiquita Brands International says it will appeal the verdict, in which it has been ordered to pay $38.3 million to family members of victims killed by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) during the nation's civil war, per the New York Times.

Chiquita previously acknowledged that it gave regular payments to the group—designated as a terrorist organization by the US—but says it did so only to protect its employees in the region, reports the BBC. Victims' families, however, argued that Chiquita bears some responsibility for the group's actions because the company's money allowed it operate. "The verdict does not bring back the husbands and sons who were killed, but it sets the record straight and places accountability for funding terrorism where it belongs: at Chiquita's doorstep," says Agnieszka Fryszman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, per Reuters.

The families also argued that Chiquita benefited from its arrangement with the AUC because the group murdered or forced out farmers, allowing the company to scoop up land on the cheap. "The situation in Colombia was tragic for so many," Chiquita said in a statement after the jury in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued its verdict. "However, that does not change our belief that there is no legal basis for these claims." Colombia's decades-long civil war ended in 2016. (More Chiquita stories.)

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