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Para-Business Gone Bananas: Chiquita Brands in Colombia

In March 2007 in a U.S. District Court, Chiquita Brands International pled guilty to one count of “Engaging in Transactions with a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist.” The banana giant confessed to paying the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), the nation’s notoriously violent network of right-wing paramilitary groups, USD 1.7 million in over one hundred payments between 1997 and 2004. Yet the case was resolved by a cash settlement, thus failing to publicly expose both sides of their quid pro quo relationship. A 2011 declassification of Chiquita documents, confessions by former paramilitaries, and ongoing lawsuits lay bare the U.S. corporation’s ruthless profiteering and invite cautious hope of justice for the victims.

The Rise of Paramilitaries

The AUC paramilitaries have their roots in Colombia’s internal armed conflict. The violence began in 1948 in Bogotá as a bloody civil war between Liberals and Conservatives. The partisan warfare ended with the National Front, a political pact that snubbed dissident factions of Liberals, Communists, self-defense communities, and independent peasant organizations. By the 1960s and 1970s, the conflict had morphed into a guerrilla insurgency against the state, which sought to rectify a history of inequality and social exclusion. This phase of integration on the part of internal leftist forces gave rise to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which continues to call for greater land access, rural development, political participation, and an end to the extrajudicial murder of its supporters.
This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate William Moore.
To read the full article, click here.

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The COHA Blog - Mounting Debt: The U.S. Could Learn from Latin America

The most recent post on the COHA blog compares the different debt situations faced by both the U.S. and Latin American nations.
Time and again, the U.S. has scolded Latin American statesmen for their inability to handle their debt. Since independence, the region has defaulted on its public debt payments to foreign creditors a total of 126 times, more than all countries in the rest of the world (112) combined. However, over the last decade much has changed: public debt as a percentage of GDP fell dramatically from 53 percent in 2003 to just 32 percent in 2008. Meanwhile, U.S. debt has increased from 60 percent of GDP in 2003, to a staggering 98.4 percent today. The North would do well to learn from the disastrous consequences of heavy public debt experienced for centuries by their southern neighbors.
To read the full blog, click here.


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