MIAMI (CN) – Chiquita Brands International supplied money and weapons to communist terrorist guerrillas who kidnapped and murdered five missionaries in Colombia, the families of the New Tribes Missionaries claim in Federal Court. more
The Colombian Communist Party founded the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Colombia – FARC – in 1964. The U.S. State Department declared FARC a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, and it remains on the U.S. terrorist list.
Families of the murdered missionaries say Chiquita paid FARC immense sums of money to protect its banana plantations “from 1989 through at least 1997”. They say Chiquita and its subsidiary Banadex made the payoffs because FARC controlled the Uraba region, to which the banana giant was returning after an absence of seven years.
“From 1989 through at least 1997, Chiquita made numerous and substantial secret payments to FARC, and also provided FARC with weapons, ammunition and other supplies through its transportation contractors. Chiquita did so knowing, or consciously avoiding, the fact that FARC was a violent terrorist organization,” the suit states.
“Chiquita’s secret payments gradually escalated and became regularized as monthly payments ranging from $20,000 to as much as $100,000 per payment. Over time, these payments from Chiquita were fixed to a percentage of Banadex’s gross revenues, with as much as 10 percent being diverted to FARC.”
FARC guerrillas murdered missionaries Charles Mankins Jr., Mark Rich, and Richard Tenenoff after abducting them and their families from the village of Pucuro on Jan. 31, 1993, the suit states.
FARC murdered Stephen Welsh and Timothy Van Dyke after abducting them and their families from Villavicencio on Jan. 16, 1994.
The families demand damages on 24 counts, including providing material support to terrorists, wrongful deaths, assault, conspiracy, wrongful imprisonment, and aiding and abetting these crimes.
Lead counsel is Ramon Rasco with Podhurst Orseck.