Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

"Chiquita poured $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 into the outlawed far-right paramilitary group AUC," observed TeleSur, "which operated as a death squad in Colombia." (Photo: Mike Mozart/flickr/cc)

Families of Death Squad Victims Allowed to Sue Chiquita Executives

U.S. judge permits federal lawsuit against corporate executives for funding far-right paramilitary group in Colombia

Nika Knight

In what supporters described as "a victory for accountability for corporate crimes," a U.S. judge ruled in favor of allowing Colombians to sue former Chiquita Brand International executives for the company's funding of a paramilitary group that murdered plaintiffs' family members.

"Corporations do not act without individuals."
—Marco Simons, EarthRights International
"Chiquita poured $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 into the outlawed far-right paramilitary group AUC," observed TeleSur, "which operated as a death squad in Colombia."

The ruling (pdf) from Judge Kenneth Marra of the Southern District of Florida stated that "'profits took priority over basic human welfare' in the banana company executives' decision to finance the illegal death squads, despite knowing that this would advance the paramilitaries' murderous campaign," as the human rights and conservation group EarthRights International (ERI) wrote on Thursday when it announced the judgment. 

The lawsuit alleges that Chiquita executives at the time, including the former CEO and COO, were fully aware that they were funding a terrorist group that was engaging in "a systematic campaign of terror—death threats, extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, kidnappings, forced disappearances and looting—against vast swathes of the Colombian civilian population," as Judge Marra wrote in his ruling.

The former executives have "moved to dismiss the lawsuit on numerous grounds," ERI noted, "including that the plaintiffs had not shown that they were personally involved in wrongful conduct, and because the abuses had occurred abroad. Judge Marra rejected these arguments, allowing the lawsuit to move forward against all defendants in ERI's lawsuit."

Chiquita lost a similar motion to dismiss the case in 2011, ERI noted.

"Corporations do not act without individuals," said Marco Simons, general counsel of ERI and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. "The court's decision ensures that these individuals, whose alleged conduct helped enable a reign of terror, cannot hide from their wrongdoing."

The ruling allows the family members to proceed with the lawsuit in U.S. federal court. A separate case in which the families sued Chiquita International Brand directly was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court last year.

Chiquita pled guilty to funding an organization designated by the U.S. as a global terrorist group in 2007, and paid a $25 million criminal fine.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Ahead of Historic House Hearing, Fresh Big Oil Misinformation Campaign Exposed

"It's always helpful to remember that big fossil fuel companies (besides being overwhelmingly responsible for carbon pollution) are also skeevy disinformation hucksters."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Very Welcome' Progress as Iran Agrees to Restart Talks on Nuclear Deal Sabotaged by Trump

One peace advocate urged all sides to reconvene negotiations "as soon as possible and with renewed urgency" to avert "disastrous" consequences for Iran and the world.

Brett Wilkins ·


House Progressives: 'When We Said These Two Bills Go Together, We Meant It'

"Moving the infrastructure bill forward without the popular Build Back Better Act risks leaving behind working people, families, and our communities."

Andrea Germanos ·


As US Makes Case for Extradition, Global Demand Rises For Assange's Immediate Freedom

"Virtually no one responsible for alleged U.S. war crimes committed in the course of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars has been held accountable... and yet a publisher who exposed such crimes is potentially facing a lifetime in jail."

Julia Conley ·


Wyden's New Billionaires Income Tax Plan Applauded as Step Toward Justice

"For too long, families have been denied basic supports... while billionaires evade taxes on obscene amounts of wealth. This dynamic is economically dangerous and morally unsustainable."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo