PAY UP: Chiquita Brands International slammed with $38 million in damages for financing Colombian paramilitary group – Click here to uncover the shocking details!

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A federal jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, has ordered banana giant Chiquita Brands International to pay more than $38 million in damages to victims of a Colombian paramilitary group. The jury’s decision comes after a 17-year legal battle that began following a 2007 sentencing agreement in which Chiquita admitted to financing the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a violent right-wing group known for human rights abuses and designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government.

The U.S. Justice Department described Chiquita’s support to the AUC as “prolonged, steady, and substantial,” leading to a $25 million criminal fine for violating anti-terrorism laws. However, it was only this week that Chiquita was held accountable for the deaths of eight men at the hands of the AUC. This decision opens the door for thousands of other victims of the AUC who are pursuing legal action against Chiquita.

Marissa Vahlsing, director of transnational legal strategy at EarthRights International, hailed the decision as historic, as it marks the first time an American company has been found liable by an American jury for human rights abuses overseas. Chiquita, on the other hand, has stated its intent to appeal the verdict, maintaining that there is no legal basis for the claims against them.

Chiquita’s involvement with the AUC came during a period of political instability in Colombia in the 1990s while the company was expanding operations in the country. Despite paying the AUC for protection against left-wing groups threatening their operations, evidence presented during the trial suggested that Chiquita was aware of the AUC’s violent actions against civilians and sympathizers of left-wing ideologies.

During the legal proceedings, Chiquita’s legal team argued that the company was extorted by the AUC and had no choice but to pay for protection. However, jurors found that Chiquita knowingly provided funding to the AUC without proving that the group posed a threat to the company’s employees.

Agnieszka Fryszman, chair of a law firm’s human rights practice, emphasized that the verdict may not bring back the lives lost due to the AUC’s actions, but it holds Chiquita accountable for funding terrorism. The decision sets a precedent for corporate accountability in cases of human rights violations abroad, bringing closure to victims who have sought justice for nearly two decades.