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Chiquita Found Liable For Financing Military Group In Colombia


On Monday, a Florida jury found banana company Chiquita liable for financing a military group in Colombia.

A Florida jury in the Southern District of Florida found Chiquita liable for “knowingly providing substantial assistance to the Colombian paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) to a degree sufficient to create a foreseeable risk of harm to others.”

In total, Chiquita was ordered to pay $38.3 million to the families of eight victims whose lives were taken due to the AUC.

After losing the civil case, Chiquita, in a press release, shared, “The situation in Colombia was tragic for so many, including those directly affected by the violence there, and our thoughts remain with them and their families. However, that does not change our belief that there is no legal basis for these claims.”

Here’s what CNN reported:

A Florida jury on Monday found banana company Chiquita Brands International liable for financing the Colombian paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC).

The jury in the civil case, in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, found that “Chiquita knowingly provided substantial assistance to the AUC to a degree sufficient to create a foreseeable risk of harm to others.”

Chiquita, one of the world’s largest banana producers, has been ordered to pay a total of $38.3 million to the families of eight victims of the AUC, which was a far-right paramilitary group that was designated a terrorist organization by the US. The group disbanded in 2006, according to Stanford University’s Mapping Militants Project.

In an amended Florida lawsuit, which was filed in 2008, the plaintiffs alleged payments from Chiquita to the AUC propped up the paramilitary group’s violence in Colombia and that the company should be held liable for the group’s murders.

In a statement to CNN, Chiquita said it planned to appeal to jury’s verdict.

“The situation in Colombia was tragic for so many, including those directly affected by the violence there, and our thoughts remain with them and their families. However, that does not change our belief that there is no legal basis for these claims,” the company’s statement said. “While we are disappointed by the decision, we remain confident that our legal position will ultimately prevail.”

Per USA Today:

Banana company Chiquita Brands International has been found liable for financing a far-right Colombian paramilitary group and ordered to pay $38.3 million in damages to the families of eight men killed by the group during the country’s civil war, a federal jury in Florida decided on Monday.

The landmark ruling on Monday comes after 17 years of legal proceedings, marking the first time the corporate giant has been found liable for similar lawsuits for those victimized by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the plaintiffs’ attorneys said.

In 2007, Chiquita pled guilty to one count of engaging in transactions with a “specially designated global terrorist” and was ordered to pay a $25 million fine, the U.S. Department of Justice said at the time. The company was accused of making illegal payments to the AUC, a paramilitary group that was known for mass killing, kidnapping civilians, and mutilating their corpses.

The case, originally filed by the nonprofit EarthRights International in 2007, was followed by several other cases in 2008, the nonprofit said. A team of law firms across the United States have been representing over 5,000 Colombian victims in the proceeding and additional trials for other victims will follow in July, according to attorneys.



 

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