San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Colombia

US Supreme Court rejects Colombia Chiquita human rights case

WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a lawsuit filed against U.S. fruit company Chiquita Brands over funding paramilitaries responsible for human rights violations.

The refusal ends the hopes of compensation for 4,000 Colombians who were victims or relatives of victims of the militia funded by the U.S. company.

The high court allowed a 2014 decision by a court in Miami to stand which said the country had no authority to decide on issues that occurred entirely outside the United States.

Chiquita, which employs about 20,000 people and operates in 70 countries, pleaded guilty in 2007 to having funded the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a right-wing paramilitary group.

The company was fined $25 million, and pleaded guilty to delivering $1.7 million to the group between 1997 and 2004 as protection payments for Chiquita employees.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based company says it was extorted by the paramilitary group.

The AUC emerged in Colombia in the early 1990s with the aim of combating leftist guerrillas, and received the support of political groups and businesses.

However, the group quickly gathered a reputation for its extreme violence against civilians to raise money.

Several of the group’s former leaders were extradited by Colombian authorities to the U.S.

The AUC was demobilized in 2006, but some allege it still persists under new names.

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