Blood Bananas

10217 Words Jan 13th, 2013 41 Pages
TB0245

Andreas Schotter
Mary Teagarden

Blood Bananas: Chiquita in Colombia
No one laughs at the banana in its areas of origin. It is too serious a business, on which jobs and lives depend.
Peter Chapman, Author of Jungle Capitalists.

For Chiquita Brands International, a pioneer in the globalization of the banana industry, bananas are not only serious business, they represent an array of economic, social, environmental, political, and legal hassles. Since its founding more than a hundred years ago as United Fruit Company, Chiquita has been involved in paying bribes to Latin American government officials in exchange for preferential treatment, encouraging or supporting U.S. coups against smaller nations, putting in place dictatorships in
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In 2001, the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, added
Colombia’s AUC to the list of “specially designated foreign terrorist organizations” in company with mostly Middle
East-based groups like Al Qaeda and Hamas. Holder argued that in 2003 Chiquita asked the U.S. Department of Justice if it should stop the payments to the terrorists. Holder said, “All the government had to do was, ‘yes, stop the payments,’ just say yes, but they never did.”

Bananas are Serious Business
As one of the first tropical fruits to be internationally traded, bananas are a cheap way to bring “the tropics” to
North America and Europe. Over the years, bananas have become such a common, inexpensive grocery item that we often forget where they come from and how they get to us. Bananas flourish in tropical regions, such as the Caribbean and Central America, where the average temperature is 80°F (27°C), and the yearly rainfall is
78-98 inches (198-249 centimeters). In fact, most bananas are grown within 10 degrees north or south of the equator. Iceland is an exception, where banana plants grow in soil heated by geysers.4
Bananas do not grow on trees; instead, they are perennial plants, which grow repeatedly from the same root system. They are related to the orchid, lily, and palm families. Bananas are harvested green and ripened during the

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