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• Chiquita Brands International produces fresh fruits, vegetables and juices, which are marketed internationally.
• Chiquita has compounded the problems of poverty and deteriorating health among banana plantation workers.
• Chiquita's predecessor, United Fruit Company, used its political might to convince the U.S. to topple the popularly elected government of Guatemala in the 1950s and over one-hundred thousand people were killed or disappeared as a result of the power struggle that ensued.
• The company was sued for using toxic agrochemicals known to cause sterility and birth defects on Central American banana farms a decade after the substances were banned in the United States.
• Use Go Green to find sustainable food producers without records of human rights violation.
-- Profile Updated 08/04/2010
About Chiquita Brands
Cincinnati-base Chiquita Brands International produces fresh fruits, vegetables and juices, which it markets internationally in nearly 80 countries. The company employs 25,000 people and reported sales of over $4.4 billion in 2006.
American Produce Co. (Subsidiary) - Los Angeles, CA
- Chiquita Banana Company BV - Veldhoven, Netherlands
- Chiquita Brands Company North America - Wilmington, DE
Chiquita Brands Company North America - Wilmington, DE
- Chiquita Brands Inc. - Bradenton, FL
- Chiquita Brands Inc. - Mansfield, MA
- Chiquita Brands Inc. - Miami, FL
- Chiquita Brands Inc. - Orlando, FL
- Chiquita Brands Inc. - West Palm Beach, FL
- Chiquita Brands Inc. - Wilmington, DE
- Chiquita Brands International - Akron, OH
- Chiquita Brands International - Charlotte, NC
- Chiquita Brands International - Cincinnati, OH
- Chiquita Brands International - Fort Pierce, FL
- Chiquita Brands International - Garfield, NJ
- Chiquita Brands International - Gulfport, MS
- Chiquita Brands International - Lynbrook, NY
- Chiquita Brands International, Inc. - Cincinnati, OH
- Chiquita Brands LLC - Cincinnati, OH
- Chiquita Brands North America (Subsidiary) - Freeport, TX
- Chiquita Canada, Inc. - Toronto, Canada
- Chiquita Fresh Inc. - Cincinnati, OH
- Chiquita Fresh North America - Bethlehem, PA
- Chiquita Fresh North America - Houston, TX
- Chiquita Fresh North LLC - Cincinnati, OH
- Chiquita Processed Foods LLC (Division) - Gillett, WI
- Chiquita Processed Foods LLC (Division) - Walla Walla, WA
- Chiquita Tropical Products Co. - Portland, OR
- Lakeside Foods - Eden, WI
- Maritrop Trading LLC - Cincinnati, OH
Contact Chiquita Brands
Cincinnatti, OH 45202 USA
In March 2007, Chiquita Brands pled guilty to doing business with a terrorist organization, and agreed to pay a $25 million fine. The guilty plea ended a lenthy US Justice Department investigation into Chiquita's payments to Columbian groups listed as terrorist organizations by the US government. US statutes make it a crime to knowingly support such groups, but prosecuters said several unnamed high-ranking Chiquita officers agreed to pay about $1.7 million between 1997 and 2004 to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known as AUC for its Spanish initials, in exchange for protection of its banana fields. According to US officials, the AUC has been involved in the killing of thousands of rural Colombians for suspected links to Marxist rebels, in addition to torture, kidnappings, rape, beatings, extortion and drug trafficking. Chiquita's sentencing is scheduled for June 2007.
-- MSNBC, 03/19/2007
Source URL: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17688439/
The Solidarity Center and US/LEAP report titled "Justice for All: The Struggle for Worker Rights in Colombia" details the situation in Colombia, the world's most dangerous country for organized labor. Chiquita is among the companies cited for operating in Colombia in a way that further threatens unionized workers, restricts organized labor and voilates basic rights.
-- Solidarity Center, 05/01/2006
Source URL: www.solidaritycenter.org/files/ColombiaFinal.pdf
Health and Safety
In February 2004 about 100 banana workers injured by contact with agro-chemicals used by US multinationals began a hunger strike in Nicaragua. The workers called on President Enrique Bolanos to support their demands for compensation from the multinationals. Since 1998 some 17,500 former farm workers from the northern Chinandega province have launched actions against eight US multinationals that either used or manufactured the pesticide Nemagon in Latin America in the 1970s. Use of Nemagon was banned in the 1960s after it was proven to be create health effects ranging from migraines, vision loss, liver and/or kidney damage, infertility, cancer, miscarriage and birth defects. The firms involved are Dole, Shell, Chiquita Brands International, Standard Fruit Company, Del Monte Tropical Fruit Company, Occidental Chemical Corporation, Dow Agrom Sciences and Aka del Monte Foods. (See related Alert item.)
-- World Markets Analysis, 02/18/2004
Source URL: www.labournet.net/world/0311/nicarag1.html
Several lawsuits were filed in New York Supreme Court against Chiquita Brands International after over 200 people became ill with an E. coli infection from eating Chiquita’s bagged fresh spinach. Three of the lawsuits were settled in April 2007. The suits were from the families of three octogenarian women whose deaths were linked to the E. coli outbreak. As of July 2007, nearly 90 lawsuits are still pending.
-- Reuters, 09/20/2006
In October 2004 thousands of banana pickers in Costa Rica filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against Chiquita and four other US companies, claiming exposure to a toxic pesticide caused a range of reproductive disorders. The suit accuses the companies of using dibromochloropropane on bananas in Central America after it was banned in the U.S. in 1979. The pesticide, a soil fumigant sold under the brand names Nemagon and Fumazone, is suspected of causing sterility, testicular atrophy, miscarriages, birth defects, liver damage and cancer when inhaled or absorbed by the skin, according to the lawsuit. (See related Alert items.)
-- Organic Consumers Association, 10/08/2004
Source URL: www.organicconsumers.org/corp/chiquita100804.cfm
In January 2004, Chiquita, along with several other produce and chemical companies, faced a major lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 1,800 Nicaraguan workers for unspecified amount of compensation in the first of a consolidated cases against banana growers and pesticide producers. The case alleges banana growers in Nicaragua and other countries kept using DBCP an ingredient in Fumazone or Nemagon insecticide products despite their demonstrated risks.The lawsuit claims the chemical causes male sterility, uterine cancer, blindness and deafness, kidney problems and rheumatism. The insecticide was banned by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 1977. (See related Alert item.)
-- Ethical Corporation, 11/10/2003
Source URL: www.ethicalcorp.com/content.asp?ContentID=3643
According to the Houston Chronicle "Chiquita procures 11 percent of its bananas from [Ecuador], up from 5 percent in 2000." Ecuador has emerged as the leading supplier of bananas to the United States and Europe. However, less than one percent of the country's banana plantation workers are unionized. Workers make and average of $6 a day and receive no overtime pay, health insurance, tools, uniforms or subsidized housing, which are available to some unionized banana workers in other countries. According to government estimates, workers would have to nearly double their earnings to buy basic necessities, such as food and clothing, for a family. (See related Alert item.)
-- Houston Chronicle, 09/14/2003
Source URL: none available
A 2002 Human Rights Watch report claims that Banana workers in Ecuador are the victims of serious human rights abuses and that banana-exporting companies, such as Dole, Del Monte and Chiquita, fail to use their financial influence to ensure workers' health and safety. The report found that Ecuadorian children as young as eight work on banana plantations and were exposed to toxic pesticides, used sharp knives and machetes, hauled heavy loads of bananas, drank unsanitary water, and some were sexually harassed. The children earned an average of $3.50 per day, which is approximately 60 percent of the legal minimum wage for banana workers.
-- Human Rights Watch, 04/25/2002
Source URL: hrw.org/press/2002/04/ecuador0425.htm
Ethics and Governance
An investigation by England’s Guardian Newspaper has revealed that multinational fruit giants Chiquita, Dole and others are concealing an enormous portion of their income by sheltering it in offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands. In some cases, the effect is so severe that the companies pay as little as an 8% tax on profits, although the tax rate where their headquarters are located is 35%. The Guardian argues that the practice of hiding income injures both the countries where the bananas are sold, such as the United States and Britain, and the developing countries where they are produced. Furthermore, even as the fruit companies are paying less in taxes to the governments of the countries where they produce, the multinational companies are engaged in a campaign to cut labor costs and reduce wages. The combined effect is greatly increased profits for the corporation at the expense of workers and recipients of government services.
-- Guardian, 11/06/2007