When the trumpet sounded,
everything was prepared on earth,
and Jehovah divided the world
among Coca-Cola Inc., Anaconda,
Ford Motors, and other corporations:
The United Fruit Company Inc.
reserved for itself the juiciest piece,
the central coast of my own land,
the sweet waist of America.
—Pablo Neruda, “The United Fruit Co.”
"...On November 5, 2001, four years after the AUC arrived in Urabá, a mysterious shipment of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles and millions of rounds of ammunition arrived at the Chiquita docks, a lethal cargo that went directly to the AUC commanders. Aside from an Organization of American States (OAS) report that focused on the two Israeli arms dealers who arranged the deal from Guatemala and Panama, there have been few details to emerge about how the weapons were handled on the Colombian side. It is also true that people directly associated with the shipment have had a tendency to disappear. The Mexican captain of the Otterloo, Jesús Iturrios Maciél, sailed with the ship on November 9 to Barranquilla and then vanished. The shipping company that owned the Otterloo closed its offices in Panama a few days after news of the weapons broke in a Colombian newspaper. The information in the OAS report suggests that someone formed the company just to deliver the weapons to the AUC.
In a front-page deal reached with the US government this year, Chiquita pleaded guilty to making millions of dollars in payments to a group on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations: the AUC. Lawyers for the company argued that they were forced into making the payments out of fear for the safety of its workers. Chiquita also admitted that they had a similar arrangement with the FARC. The result of the plea deal was a $25 million fine for a business that earned $3.9 billion in revenue in 2006, and there were no charges filed over the weapons shipment. It is not surprising that Chiquita Brands was forced to make protection payments to armed groups operating around their plantations, but that is not the entire story.
In March 2007, Chiquita told CNN that the weapons shipment and the protection payments to the paramilitaries were unrelated. This may well be true—the weapons shipments to the AUC were connected to a dark series of events at the company’s port. The Colombian government cast doubt on the company’s claims of being the victim of extortion by the AUC. Mario Iguarán, the Colombian attorney general, said, “It was a criminal relationship: money and arms for the bloody pacification of Urabá.” ..."