Chiquita discovered answerable for funding Colombian paramilitary group | EUROtoday

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Banana big Chiquita Brands International should pay greater than $38 million in damages to victims of a Colombian paramilitary group the corporate was discovered answerable for financing within the late Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s, a federal jury determined Monday.

The choice follows a 17-year authorized battle for the victims, sparked after a 2007 sentencing settlement through which Chiquita admitted to the U.S. Justice Department that it paid greater than $1.7 million to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a violent right-wing group that dedicated human rights abuses in Colombia and had been designated a overseas terrorist group by the U.S. authorities. The Justice Department characterised Chiquita’s help to the AUC as “prolonged, steady, and substantial.”

At the time, Chiquita needed to pay a $25 million legal tremendous for violating the U.S. anti-terrorism statute, but it surely has not needed to reply to the AUC’s victims till this week, when a jury in West Palm Beach discovered the banana firm answerable for the deaths of eight males killed by the paramilitary group. The choice opens the door for 1000’s extra victims of the AUC who’re suing Chiquita. A second trial involving victims’ claims towards Chiquita is slated to start out in July.

The choice is historic, in accordance with Marissa Vahlsing, director of transnational authorized technique for EarthRights International, a human rights nonprofit group representing victims on this case. This week’s choice marks “the first time an American company has been held liable by an American jury for human rights violations abroad,” Vahlsing stated.


Summarized tales to shortly keep knowledgeable

Chiquita turned entangled with the AUC whereas the corporate was making an attempt to develop operations in Colombia throughout a interval of political instability within the Nineteen Nineties. The firm paid the AUC for cover from left-wing teams that they are saying threatened Chiquita’s operations, Vahlsing stated, “even though they knew at the time that these groups were carrying out massacres against any civilian or any suspected sympathizer of left-wing ideas.”

Chiquita Brands International didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

During the trial, the corporate’s authorized group argued that it was “clearly extorted” by the AUC and was compelled to pay the group to guard its Colombian workers. But jurors within the case decided that Chiquita knowingly supplied funding to the AUC and didn’t show that the group was threatening the corporate’s workers, or that there was “no reasonable alternative” to paying them.

“Our clients risked their lives to come forward to hold Chiquita to account,” Agnieszka Fryszman, chair of regulation agency Cohen Milstein’s human rights follow and one of many attorneys main the case, stated in a press release. “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.”