Citizens for Boycotting Chiquita by Kyle de Beausset

Dandelion Salad

by Kyle de Beausset

Immigration Orange

It is time to boycott Chiquita Brands International, Inc. I covered Chiquita for the first time almost five months ago. Since then, I have gotten over 30 blogs to cover the fact that Chiquita pled guilty to “Engaging in Transactions with a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist”. Finally, this scandal is getting the attention it deserves. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal ran front page stories on Chiquita’s indictment. The Los Angeles Times recently ran a major article, as well. While I will continue my campaign to get blogs to cover this issue, it is clear that we need to step up what I have humbly named the Campaign for International Justice. It is time to boycott Chiquita.

Now that the media has picked up on this story and emphasized it for the debacle that it is, it is time for citizens to get involved. It is time for civil society to add their voice to this story. This story has to be transformed from an elite political scandal to something that consumers in the United States care about, and something that affects people all across the globe. Newspapers shouldn’t be able to cover this story with getting a quote from Citizens for Boycotting Chiquita.

I don’t think this should be a limited boycott. I think people should just stop buying Chiquita products, period. Contributing to the bloodshed in Colombia by financially supporting paramilitary groups is just the tip of the iceberg for Chiquita Brands International, Inc. Chiquita has shown a systemic tendency to engage in immoral practices that are hurtful for the world and consumers should not tolerate it. I will list just some of the things below.

1. In 1984 the United Fruit Company (UFCO) was renamed Chiquita Brands International. While I will not delve too deeply into the transgressions of the UFCO, I will say that the country I was born and spent 18 years of my life in, Guatemala, owes much of the political turmoil in it’s modern history to the United Fruit Company. In 1954, democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz was ousted by a CIA-orchestrated coup that was put into motion by the political influence of the United Fruit Company. All of this is documented very well in the book Bitter Fruit.

2. In 1998, Chiquita’s systemic abuses were documented by an expose in the Cincinatti Enquirer, entitled “Chiquita Secrets Revealed”. The Cincinatti Enquirer was forced to run a dramatic retraction because Michael Gallagher obtained a lot of the information illegally by hacking into the company’s voice mail system, but none of the factual claims in the 18 page series have been disputed or proven wrong. The expose covers a variety of abuses including mistreating Central American workers, polluting the environment, allowing cocaine to be brought into the United States on it’s ships, bribing foreign officials, evading the laws of foriegn countries, and forcibly preventing it’s workers from unionizing.

3. In 2001, Chiquita was forced to pay a $100,000 penalty after the Securities and Exchange Commission found it guilty of bribing a foreign official in Colombia.

4. In 2007, Chiquita plead guilty to paying $1.7 million to the Auto-Defensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) which I have written about many times.

This is just a crude preliminary list. To be honest, I don’t have the time to filter through all of Chiquita’s abuses. The 30+ blogs that have covered this issue have dug up a lot more that I didn’t know about before. I hope others will help me make this list more comprehensive and accurate. That being said, I hope it is clear that Chiquita is systemically committing these abuses and that the company does not deserve another chance from consumers.

Cynical progressives will say, “Why Chiquita? What difference is it going to make if we stop just one of the many companies that engage in these practices?” Chiquita is not just one of many companies, it has to be one of the worst, if not the worst multinational corporation of the many that undermine the health of global society. Furthermore, the Chiquita case brings forth countless other issues that are relevent to the problems of the day. If we frame this boycott around these issues enormous good can be done on so many other fronts.

The reason I think this issue is important for Immigration Orange is that Colombia has more refugees than any other nation in the Americas. This large refugee population has been displaced by the violence and bloodshed in Colombia. The fact that Chiquita is supporting this violence perfectly illustrates how the actions of entities in the United States are partly responsible for pushing migrants into the U.S in the first place. Boycotting Chiquita will help society focus on the root causes of immigration into the U.S. In a divided and toxic U.S. “immigration debate” people on the left and right agree that we have to start focusing on the root causes of migration. This is an excellent chance to bring that point into the mainstream.

Cynical conservatives will argue that while Chiquita might be abusive, their business is better than nothing, and it would be elitist to hurt countries like Guatemala where Chiquita employs so many people. I have more sympathy for this argument than most people would expect. I have seen countless NGOs and well-meaning foreigners come into Guatemala and hurt more people than they help.

The truth in this matter, though, is that there are better alternatives, that will do so much more to help people out of the conditions they want to escape. Not only should we boycott Chiquita, but we should encourage people to buy fair trade bananas. Oke USA is my favorite brand. Not only do fair trade companies do more to help people get out of poverty but they help to strengthen the standards that these countries should adhere to so that, environmental destruction, poor worker treatment, and bribery is no longer the norm in banana growing countries.

It is time to boycott Chiquita. It is the right thing to do. I will continue to get blogs to cover this issue. The next benchmark that I hope to reach is 40 blogs. But it is time that citizens turn this into an issue that affects them, not just an elite political scandal.

Following are the 30 blogs that have covered Chiquita:

1. Burnzpost
2. Jottings
3. Video Store Blues
4. Eleanor Duckwall
5. Blog4Brains
6. Elevator Up
7. One Step Closer
8. Islamophobia Watcher
9. The Garlic
10. aTypical Joe
11. Vox Ameliae
12. NoisyRoom
13. Samadhisoft
14. Writeous Sister Speaks
15. Chromed Curses
16. Lucky White Girl
17. Foreign Perpectives
18. Desde Kinshasa
19. Why Am I Not Surprised
20. Crooks and Liars
21. Mask of Anarchy
22. Professor Zero
23. Ten Percent
24. In All Things Seek Truth
25. Too Sense
26. Burma Underground
27. Rabulist
28. Dandelion Salad
29. Ravings of a Semi-Sane Madwoman
30. Save the Middle Class

see:

Seek Justice Against Chiquita by Kyle de Beausse

Banana Republic: Chertoff, Chiquita and Right-Wing Death Squads by Chris Floyd

9 thoughts on “Citizens for Boycotting Chiquita by Kyle de Beausset

  1. Pingback: Life and Debt - Globalization and Jamaica (2001) « Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: G8 Summit + Politics of Fruit and the Secret History of the “Miracle Berry” « Dandelion Salad

  3. Not really Lo, you’re flattering me somewhat there!

    My main subjects are usually postwar US interventionism, covert ops, US war crimes and Israel / Palestine.

  4. The overthrow of Arbenz in Guatemala (1954) was one of the worst examples of the US lobby system, in this case on behalf of the United Fruit Company / Chiquita. They used the usual false accusations of Communism as a pretext. It also helped that Eisenhower’s personal secretary was the wife of United Fruit’s public relations director and Under Secretary of State, Walter Smith was also looking for a job with UFC. This coup eventually led to the murder of up to 200,000 people in a vicious US sposored dirty war which lasted for decades, and also involved a genocide of the indigenous Mayan population. It all started over the company now known as Chiquita.

  5. Can we please start the 2008 banana boycott in a serious, intentional, world-wide way? I live in a “company town” of Diablo Chiquita right in the middle of a Banana Republic. And I’ll tell you what. I’d starve before I’d put any Diablo Chiquita product in my mouth.

    Can we submit a petition and send it, along with workers’s stories and images, etc, out to social justice organisations around the world? I remember Chavez and the table grape boycott. We need to be doing the same with bananas. Create an ad for tv and social justice websites. Send letters to editors. Have town hall meetings. Clergy types need to be preaching and teaching and proclaiming the good news of the “good bananas.”

    Here, in our ugly hideous little town, formerly a company town of Diablo Chiquita, the people who work in the fields of chemicals and toxins could not afford to buy a banana at the local mercado. We raise our own organically and share with the community of First Peoples nearby. Our town is a port for Chiquita; ships carry bananas and other stuff to Europe. I long for the day that GreenPeace sails into the port and shuts these mothers down. Can we make that happen? And soon?

    En La Lucha
    Una+

    The Revd. Una NiRiain

    If I disappear from the face of this earth, someone might want to investigate. I might have been killed off by Chiquita. I am serious. Bananas are fertiised by the murdered bodies and blood of workers.

    Read Global Exchange’s information on bananas. And get busy shuttiing them down.

  6. Dang it, i love learning something new…..isn’t daddy bush part of united fruit company…..hope you don’t mind the mention of the web site ds, but i like to be as proactive as possible …..especially since these guys are like roaches …their everywhere……..thanks again for keeping me informed…………t
    http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org

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