The information in the Chiquita internal memos, revealing that the multinational paid guerrilla and paramilitary groups money in return for security services and not extortion money as it had previously claimed, is nothing new, lawyer Paul Wolf told Colombia Reports.
“It is an exaggeration to say this is new evidence” said Wolf who, in March, filed cases against the banana company on behalf of the families of victims of guerrilla and paramilitary violence in the banana growing region of Colombia.
Wolf also said that the fact that the internal memos were leaked indicates that the criminal investigation into the multinational has been closed.
The criminal investigation in 2007 into Chiquita for violating U.S. anti-terrorism laws culminated in a guilty plea and a $25 million fine.
“They [the memos] are confidential law enforcement documents. This is what was known in 2007. The documents were in the hands of the prosecutors here [in Washington DC]. The 2007 guilty plea was based [on that information].”
The memos do however shed light on details about Chiquita’s payments to the FARC and paramilitaries and what the FARC did in reality.
“Those guys actually stood guard which was not something Chiquita admitted to. These guys stood guard and if there was trouble the FARC would come in and take care of it.”
One thing that Wolf would have liked to see in the documents is exactly how much the FARC and the paramilitaries were receiving between 1993 and 1997 when there was a “transition of payments,” in which payments to one group were increasing while the amount for the other was decreasing.
Wolf added “The other unknown is the role of AUGURA, and the Colombian Banana Growers Association, were they transferring money to the AUC and FARC as intermediaries?”
Chiquita is currently facing the prospect of a mass lawsuit that could see 100 lawyers working to form one case that represents some 4,000 victim’s families.