Chiquita Bananas of Death

Bananas of Death.

Every time you eat a Chiquita banana, you are eating a blood-stained banana.

Is that too hyperbolic?

Well, although it has been generally ignored by anything but the business press, eight executives of Chiquita Brands International admitted to paying $1.7 million to right-wing paramilitary death squads in war-torn Columbia during a period spanning 1997-2004.

Let’s go over that again.

To keep the bananas flowing, to keep “leftists” from taking banana fields and to keep workers’ rights activists from unionizing banana pickers, Chiquita Brands paid right-wing death squads to ensure the “free and fair” trade of bananas. With guns. Automatic guns.

Do you think we’ll invade Chiquita’s Headquarters in Ohio for supporting terrorism? Well, it’s not like they are Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, after all. Bush can give them a pass, right?

The company agreed to pay a $25 million fine. I mean, c’mon, $25 million paid to the US Government is surely enough to offset the terrorism and killing done in the name of Americans’ access to that phallic fruit.

Who cares if hundreds, if not thousands, of brown people had their peasant lives disrupted or ended by this terrorist campaign against the enemies of banana freedom? Because there is no chance that any of the $25 million will ever see its way to those who suffered at the hands of Chiquita’s plan to liberate bananas from Pinko anti-bananaists.

Of course, it does not do anyone any good to set off a round of recriminations. To that end, the agreement reached with Chiquita kept the names of those eight executives involved withheld from the public. Now, next time you “liberate” snack foods from a local Mini-Mart, perhaps using right-wing gangs to do your bidding, you can rest assured that your name will be withheld from the public. Let’s just hope you can afford the fine. We know that Chiquita can.

The funny thing about this? It’s been going on for decades.

The United Fruit Company is the paragon of death-squad free trade and set the historical blueprint of covert use of violence to ensure free access to bananas. Back in the 1950s, Guatemala elected a dude named Arbenz who thought that the Guatemalan people should own the land of…well…Guatemala.

Silly man.

The United Fruit Company, of which the Bush family was a major shareholder, proposed the idea that Guatemalans owning Guatemala smacked of Communism. What to do? Well, they overthrew the elected government of Guatemala…thanks to their friends in the CIA…and they made sure that the free flow of bananas remained the backbone of anti-Communist nutrition in American bellies everywhere.

Really, it’s true. CIA documents prove it. Hell, they’ve even bragged about it.

And it’s even funnier than that! Chiquita’s old name, prior to 1985? The United Fruit Company! Isn’t that cool?

Now, in Columbia the stakes are even higher. Columbia is still the world’s largest exporter of cocaine. During Bubba Clinton’s Administration, they got Congress to agree to Plan Columbia…a multi-billion dollar plan to take back the coca fields from the “leftists” and put them in the hands of pro-American right-wingers and the Government of Columbia. Of course, the “Plan” was supposed to “liberate” the fields from evil Pinkos and end the production of coca leaves.

Didn’t happen.

In fact, the Columbian government…considered the most pro-American government in South America…is in the middle of a huge scandal. The scandal? Oh…well…those right-wing paramilitary squads hired by Chiquita? It looks like right-wing paramilitary squads like them were linked to members of the parliament and to President Uribe’s Administration. The self-same Uribe using America’s Plan Columbia dollars to fund the “fight against cocaine.”

Oh yeah, Columbia also has a huge untapped oil fields, but there is no way that oil would be something we would kill people for…is it?

What’s really happening with Plan Columbia is that we are funding right-wing cocaine kingpins who are friendly to America in their fight against cocaine kingpins who refuse to pay any tolls or tariffs to American drug masters. In other words, they are Commies. It’s sorta like the deal “we” had with the Contras…they were allowed and assisted by the CIA in their drug-running ops during the 1980s by the CIA and members of the Iran-Contra team in the White House. In return for that help, they killed Commies. Seems like a fair trade. Get it? Fair trade.

So what if it led to the crack cocaine epidemic? Yes, there is empirical evidence for this. Read Gary Webb. Read about Freeway Ricky Ross and the Meneses Brothers. It’s all there. That is, if you want to know.

So here we are, some fifty years later and Chiquita is doing the same damn thing that the United Fruit Company did. But dammit if we don’t have the freedom to buy bananas each time we go to the supermarket.

Isn’t free trade fun, even if it isn’t close to being fair?

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