Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release


Kate Fried, EarthRights International
(202) 466.5188 x100

Press Release

EarthRights International Urges Congress to Cancel Corporate Abuse

Human Rights and Environmental Justice Advocates Launch Campaign to Hold Corporations Accountable for Human Rights Violations

Today, EarthRights International launched Cancel Corporate Abuse, a new campaign to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses. The campaign highlights the case of Chiquita Brands International, which for nearly a decade in the 1990s and early 2000s, secretly made monthly payments totaling at least $1.7 million to Colombia’s deadliest paramilitary organization, the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). In turn, the AUC tormented communities in Colombia’s banana-growing regions. 

“Chiquita hides behind its family-friendly image, but for years, it profited from illegal activities. Its victims have gone nearly three decades without justice--no apology or compensation from the banana behemoth,” said Keith Slack, Director of Strategy and Campaigns at EarthRights. “EarthRights is fighting to change that. Today we are urging Congress to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses like the ones committed by Chiquita.”

Chiquita grew its bananas on large plantations in Colombia, taking advantage of civil conflict there to purchase land at lower prices. It then funded paramilitary death squads, including the AUC, in order to ensure a smooth operating environment; the AUC’s victims included union leaders and political activists. In 2018, the Colombian government announced criminal charges against 13 former Chiquita executives for their roles in these crimes. Chiquita pled guilty to funding paramilitaries, and was convicted of a felony, but it has not compensated families whose loved ones were murdered by the groups it bankrolled. The U.S. Justice Department also fined Chiquita $25 million for its relationship with the AUC, but that money was not used to compensate the families of the victims.

Chiquita isn’t the only company to commit abuses like these. The use of violence-for-profit tactics continues in Colombia and has taken place in other countries in cases involving agribusiness and energy corporations like oil giant Exxon Mobil, agricultural conglomerate Cargill, and mining powerhouse Freeport-McMoRan.

“Chiquita’s past actions are an example of how corporations abuse communities and the planet for the sake of profits,” added Slack. “Three people a week were murdered around the world in 2018 for protecting their lands from extractive industries and other threats--an all-time high. Nobody should have to die for defending their communities; it’s past time that Congress takes action.”

EarthRights filed a lawsuit against Chiquita in 2007 for the company’s role in financing torture, war crimes, and other human rights abuses in Colombia. Although claims by two of the families were dismissed by a federal judge in September of this year, EarthRights is appealing that decision and continues to represent over 200 other plaintiffs in claims against Chiquita and its former executives.

To learn more, visit


EarthRights International (ERI) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which we define as "earth rights." We specialize in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns. Through these strategies, EarthRights International seeks to end earth rights abuses, to provide real solutions for real people, and to promote and protect human rights and the environment in the communities where we work.

In Landslide 1,108-to-387 Vote, Maine Nurses Reject Effort to Decertify Their Union

"They thought because we were a new union, they could manipulate Maine Med nurses and overturn our 2021 election," said one nurse. "But we just showed them the door."

Jake Johnson ·

Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·

Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·

US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·

Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo