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  • Chiquita & Myth of Corporate Social Responsibility

    Summary

    Chiquita Brands International claims to put corporate social responsibility at the forefront of its business practices. The banana producer seeks to distance itself from its predecessor United Fruit Company by presenting a story of complete transformation from a corporation that was famous for its human rights violations and collusion with the State, to a 21st century company that is responsive to consumer demands for healthy fruit produced in conditions that are environmentally-conscious and respectful of labor and community rights.

    This article examines Chiquita as the direct heir of the notorious United Fruit Company, debunking the company’s claims that it has transformed from a corporate villain into a model corporate citizen. Current-day Chiquita is full of contradictions. The company’s operations receive approvals from the Rainforest Alliance and Social Accountability International, and it is the only company in the industry that has agreed to a Latin American-wide collective bargaining agreement with the banana workers’ union. Despite the sustainability and management certifications, human rights violations continue to be documented in farms that produce Chiquita fruits, particularly bananas. Examples of these violations are presented from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Colombia. Using its considerable political clout and public relations influence, Chiquita has followed the United Fruit Company’s example by covering up its actions, which not only violate its own voluntary codes of conduct but are also illegal and unethical.

    Chiquita’s actions in Colombia, where it admitted to paying left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary organizations over a 15-year period, resulted in an indictment by the US Department of Justice that found Chiquita broke the law by financing a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Legal actions are now underway in the US and in Colombia, aiming to hold Chiquita accountable and achieve redress for the victims of the paramilitaries that were funded by Chiquita. The indictment, and the National Security Archives’ subsequent release of the Chiquita Papers provide an opportunity to examine the connections that resulted in a fine of USD $25 million paid to the US government and an omission of criminal charges for the Chiquita executives involved in fueling the Colombian armed conflict. While its public relations machine convinces consumers that Chiquita is a good choice, the shared interests between the company and the US government allow Chiquita to continue disregarding human rights in impunity.

    artikel als pdf
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