As the spinster aunt knows too well, a committed blamer can turn up almost any rock, take a step back, and watch in flabby-jawed horror as the slimy offenses against truth and beauty — in some of which we are ourselves complicit — come scuttling out, blinking in the dimming sun.
While sauntering through the Democracy Now website this morning I stubbed the Twisty toe on this (here is the Wall Street Journal version). Chiquita Brands International, the undisputed dark overlord in the cutthroat world of international banana trafficking, is being sued by the families of 5 murdered Americans doing missionary work in Colombia. Chiquita, they say, secretly funneled cash to the left-wing terrorist group who killed the missionaries, and ought to be held accountable.
Because I had just eaten a banana for breakfast, I became curious about the vast corporate fruit machine. Naturally, because the world is a rotten log full of oozy vermin, I found that this isn’t the first time a dark cloud of suspicion has dimmed Chiquita’s horizons. I allude to a 1998 18-page Cincinnati Enquirer exposé outlining the company’s ritual criminal behavior, which behavior was purported to include secretly controlling dozens of “independent” banana farms, toxic pesticide infractions resulting in human death, drug smuggling, bribery, and kidnaping.
Then the story was retracted, the lead reporter was fired, the Internet links were redirected, and Chiquita was paid off to the tune of $10 million to stop a lawsuit. It is widely speculated that the Cincinnati-based banana empire’s heavy-hitter political connections were instrumental in forcing the retraction. I read on one website that head Chiquita bananateer Carl Lindner’s jumbo political donations scored him a Lincoln Bedroom two-nighter in the Clinton White House.
Anyway. It is wise to cast a jaundiced eye on American characterizations of rebel groups as “terrorists,” then again, maybe paying protection money to, and supplying with weaponry, various warring factions is part of the cost of doing banana business in Colombia, and maybe Chiquita (although, honestly, how likely is it?) really was acting in the interests of their employees when they paid the rebels not to kill them; I’m not there and I don’t know. But I’ll tell you this. It would appear that no one is innocent who eats a banana.