Chiquita and the “Cost of Doing Business” in Colombia

By the middle of 1997 officials from Chiquita Brands International had grown nervous about the company’s increasingly long list of so-called “sensitive payments” in Colombia. For years Chiquita had been quietly paying off the leftist rebel groups that dominated the country’s banana-producing northern coast. But the balance of power was shifting away from the guerrillas and toward increasingly powerful paramilitary groups, and Chiquita’s security payments reflected this new reality. Thousands of dollars that previously had gone to guerrillas were being redirected to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a confederation of drug traffickers and right-wing death squads that promised to drive guerrilla influence from the region and seize control of the illegal narcotics trade.

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