82.4 F
San Fernando
Tuesday, Oct 3, 2023

Dole Rejects Claims it Financed Paramilitary Group in Colombia

Dole Food Company called “baseless” the allegations of illegal activity in Colombia made in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit accuses Dole of financing the right wing paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) – United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, which has been accused of murdering thousands of Colombians in a decade’s old armed conflict. The plaintiffs are relatives of 51 people murdered by the AUC who advocated for labor unions or were small farmers who refused to sell their land to Dole, to plant bananas, according to the lawsuit. They claim Dole made a deal with the AUC in exchange for a docile workforce, and made payments totaling some $10 million between 1997 and 2007. The suit accuses the AUC of “keeping unions out of Dole’s banana plantations by murdering effective union leaders and using terror tactics to discourage workers from joining the unions.” The plaintiffs want damages for pain and suffering. One key witness in their case is a jailed AUC commander, who demobilized as part of Colombia’s Justice and Peace Process, in which the country offered former paramilitary members minimal jail time in exchange for full confessions. “These terrorists have every reason to lie by making false allegations against international companies like Dole in order to minimize their own culpability and reduce their jail time,” said C. Michael Carter, Dole’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “This lawsuit is irresponsible and the allegations are blatantly false.” Dole is the second U.S. banana importer after Chiquita Brands International Inc. to be sued in the United States for such alleged behavior. Andrea Alegria

Featured Articles

Related Articles