Chiquita Brands International Inc.,
owner of the namesake banana label, was sued by the family of a
U.S. mine consultant killed by FARC guerrillas in 1996.
The Cincinnati-based company provided money and weapons to
the group to protect its fruit operations in the
country, according to a lawsuit filed today in federal court in
Washington. The support helped the Marxist group maintain a
terror campaign that resulted in the kidnapping and murder of the
consultant, Frank Pescatore, the family said.
“The material support that the defendants knowingly
provided FARC substantially facilitated FARC’s acts of terrorism
which caused plaintiff’s injuries,” according to the complaint.
The family is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
Chiquita, which sold its Colombia banana business in 2004,
pleaded guilty in March 2007 to paying the United Self Defense
Forces of Colombia, or AUC, more than $1.7 million in protection
money from 1997 to 2004. The company agreed to pay a $25 million
fine and its executives weren’t charged. AUC was FARC’s main
Relatives of 173 people killed by terrorist groups, which
the company admitted paying, sued Chiquita in June 2007. That
case, which is still pending, also seeks unspecified damages as
well as the names of company officials who authorized payments.
Pescatore worked as a geologist at the Cerrejon coal mine in
La Guajira Department, Colombia, in December 1996 when it was
attacked by FARC guerrillas led by Juvenal Ricardo Palmera,
according to court documents. Pescatore was captured, held for
ransom and later killed while trying to escape, according to the
complaint. FARC preserved his body and held it for two more
months before dumping it in an isolated area in February 1997.
Palmera, also known as Simon Trinidad, was extradited to the
U.S. in 2004 to face charges of drug trafficking and kidnapping.
FARC leader Alfonso Cano last month offered to swap 22 hostages
for 500 jailed rebels, including Palmera.
Ed Loyd, a spokesman for Chiquita, didn’t return a telephone
call seeking comment. (Bloomberg)