The families of the Americans who lost their lives in Colombia during the 1990s have sued Chiquita. The six Americans were kidnapped and killed by the rebels group Farc, which agreed to a peace deal with the Colombian government in 2016 after more than 50 years of conflict.
The families are suing over the payments the company made to the group. The lawsuits accuse the company of violating the Anti-Terrorism Act. Chiquita, one of the most popular banana companies around the world, said back in 2007 that it paid a terrorist group for protection. The company agreed to a $25 million fine for making the payments.
The company has also admitted to making payments to Farc but has explained that they were done to protect its employees and businesses from violence. Last month, the company released a statement saying that they prioritized the safety of their employees and their families, and acted accordingly. The rebel group signed a peace deal back in 2016 and is now a political party.
Chiquita agreed to a $25 million fine over the payments made to the other rebel group but during the case, the families of the six Americans kidnapped and killed learned that the company had also paid Farc. The information has now led to the lawsuits.
One of the six Americans was a geologist who was in Colombia for a project. He was killed when he attempted to escape from the kidnappers, according to reports. The other five were part of a missionary group from Florida.
After the kidnappings, the rebel group demanded a ransom for three of them. According to court documents, the rebel group first asked for money in 1989. Company executives decided to make the payment. The company ended up making 56 other payments over the next decade.
Court documents show that a company executive traveled to Colombia with $10,000, which would later be exchanged for Colombian pesos to make a payment to the rebel group. The documents add that the money was hidden in a spare tire of a Jeep.
Chiquita no longer owns any farms in Colombia after selling its subsidiary in 2004 but at the time of the incidents, the company was doing well there. Chiquita insists that the payments were made to protect the employees and business but court documents show that it was not planning to end operations there and that executives discussed it as a cost of doing business in the country.