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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Earth To U.S. Congress: Please, Ask Questions About Chiquita And Terrorists

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- One of Ohio's corporate giants, Chiquita Brands International, admitted last week it illegally funnelled cash to a terrorist group in Colombia that has been linked to raping, torturing, kidnapping, threatening and murdering foes, including police, prosecutors , judges and members of that nation's elected legislative body. But the U.S Congress isn't asking any questions that would fill in blanks about who at the banana company's downtown Cincinnati headquarters could have signed off on the payments -- or if anybody did.

Chiquita has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $25 million penalty for its rogue activities with Colombia's AUC, a rightist paramilitary. The U.S. State Department's official 2000 Human Rights Report is HERE and AUC is frequently mentioned in bloody or brutal activities.

These excerpts list what happened to cops, prosecutors, congress members, judges and journalists who crossed paths with AUC in 1999 while Chiquita was paying the paramilitary:

1. "Judges have long been subject to threats and intimidation, particularly when dealing with cases involving members of the public security forces or of paramilitary, narcotics, and guerrilla organizations. Violent attacks against prosecutors and judges continued, and prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys continued to be subjected to threats and acts of violence. On April 3, specialized jurisdiction prosecutor Margarita Maria Pulgarin Trujillo was killed in Medellin; AUC members were the prime suspects in her killing. Prosecutors reported that potential witnesses in major cases often lacked faith in the Government's ability to protect their anonymity and were thus unwilling to testify, ruining chances for successful prosecutions."

2. "On June 14, the trial of 10 persons suspected of the February 1998 killing of human rights activist Jesus Maria Valle began in Medellin. Valle was the president of the Antioquia Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights. Charges were brought against suspected killers Jorge Eliecer Rodriguez Guzman, Alvaro Goez Meza, Gilma Patricia Gaviria Palacios, Elkin Dario Granada Lopez, Alexander Vallejo Echeverry, and Carlos Alberto Bedoya Marulanda for direct participation in the crime. In August 1999, the Prosecutor General's office issued arrest warrants for AUC paramilitary leader Carlos Castano and Juan Carlos Gonzalez Jaramillo for planning the crime. Castano was indicted in September 1998 for the killing. According to press reports, the first police agent on the case was killed soon afterward; the prosecutor fled the country; and another investigator was killed in September 1999."

3. "In October the AUC paramilitary group kidnapped seven members of Congress, including former Senate President Miguel Pineda and Zulema Jattin, a member of a congressional peace commission, and demanded that the AUC be consulted in the peace process. The Government refused to open discussions with the AUC, but Interior Minister Humberto de la Calle negotiated the hostages' release with Castano."

4. "On May 3, the Prosecutor General's office formally charged AUC paramilitary leader Carlos Castano with the August 1999 killing of renowned journalist, political comedian, and peace and human rights activist Jaime Garzon Forero in Bogota. On January 13, members of the CTI captured La Terraza gang member Juan Pablo Ortiz Agudelo in Medellin on suspicion of having been the gunman in the attack against Garzon. Ortiz remained in detention in Bogota at year's end. In December a group of men claiming to represent the "La Terraza" criminal organization said publicly that they were hired by Castano to kill Jaime Garzon and human rights activists Elsa Alvarado, Mario Calderon, Jesus Maria Valle, and Eduardo Umana Mendoza. They offered to turn themselves in and provide proof of Castano's involvement in return for security guarantees from the Government. There was no public response from the authorities by year's end."

5. "In July the Attorney General announced an investigation into retired army Brigadier General Alberto Bravo Silva, Colonel Roque Sanchez, and three other army officers for failing to prevent a paramilitary massacre of 27 persons in August 1999 in La Gabarra. The investigation was still in progress at year's end. Bravo retired in August 1999 on the orders of President Pastrana. Two of the three army officers are still members of the public security forces. Colonel Sanchez, the regional police commander at the time of the killings, was on trial at year's end. In October the Attorney General's office also charged Colonel Sanchez. On May 3, the Prosecutor General's office formally charged AUC paramilitary chief Carlos Castano with masterminding the May 29 and August 21 La Gabarra massacres in 1999."

6. "On May 25, Jineth Bedoya Lima, a reporter for the El Espectador newspaper, was kidnapped and raped over a period of 10 hours while on her way to interview a convicted paramilitary leader at the Modelo prison in Bogota. Two days prior to her kidnapping, El Espectador received threatening letters against her and other journalists. Carlos Castano, leader of the AUC paramilitary organization, denied that the AUC was involved in the kidnaping."

7. "In February the National Police and the DAS captured north coast paramilitary chief Adan Rojas Ospino in Barranquilla, Atlantico department. Rojas, a key aid to AUC paramilitary chief Carlos Castano, was sought in connection with a series of massacres dating back to the 1980's, as well as to the 1994 killing of a congressman. On February 24, the DAS also announced the capture of Arnoldo Segundo Meza de la Rosa, the alleged chief of intelligence and finance operations for the paramilitary fronts operating in Sucre and Bolivar departments. Additionally, the DAS announced the capture in Monteria, Cordoba department, of an ACCU paramilitary leader.
Paramilitary groups on occasion used landmines and sometimes forced underage combatants into their ranks. Paramilitary forces failed to respect the injured and medical personnel. For example, in November members of a paramilitary group reportedly killed a patient on an ambulance driving from Tibu to Cucuta, Norte de Santander department, and declared the Tibu hospital a 'military objective,' causing several support staff to flee. In late October, presumed members of a paramilitary group kidnapped the same hospital's director, who later was found dead. In late September, paramilitary forces in the Uraba region dragged a wounded FARC member from a Red Cross ambulance and shot and killed her."

Stay tuned: There's more to come.


  1. What's the point of prosecuting them? They were only carrying out the standard republican policy.

  2. I came across this post and I was wondering if you'd be interested in joining a campaign for Chiquita justice.

  3. Thanks for stopping by. I am intrigued by Chiquita material/activity. Perhaps you could pass along some information about what the "Chiquita justice" movement is about. I am unfamiliar with it at this time. So I don't know if I would be intersted in joining. Hope to hear something soon.