An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chiquita and Terror

A longer history than you think

How many people even recognize the name "Michael Gallagher" now? I admit, I had to do some research to find his name because I too had forgotten. But when I read that Chiquita has to pay a $25 million fine for hiring terrorists (of the right as well as the left. Well, at least Chiquita has an equal opportunity policy when it comes to hiring homicidal maniacs) to protect its plantations in Colombia.

Almost 10 years ago two men (that I know of) Michael Gallagher of The Cincinnati Enquirer and George Ventura, a former lawyer for Chiquita, received criminal convictions for illegally obtaining Chiquita company voice-mail messages that confirmed the sGallagher's story about how Chiquita routinely did business with right-wing terrorists and oppressive governments to make sure that any workers on their plantations in Central America who attempted to form a union or go on strike died horribly. He could connect the dots between Chiquita and death.

How much "harm" does a $25 million fine do to a company like Chiquita? Sounds like a lot of money? Chiquita makes $25 million in less than 2 working days. And besides, judgements against a company count as "losses" on its balance sheet and consequently reduce its taxes. Unlike most of the rest of us when we have to pay a parking ticket, the corporation gets to pay out of "pre-tax" earnings. No one at Chiquita goes to jail or has criminal convictions on their records. Remember that the next time you read about a corporation paying a big fine.

And almost lost in the memory hole: The Cincinnati Enquirer apologized to Chiquita and paid it a $10 million settlement over the story by Michael Gallagher that turned out to be the truth.

UPDATE: I found a link to an old salon story that is still live: Rotten Banana, by Bruce Shapiro

No comments:

Post a Comment