This HuffPo piece seems to not really put things into perspective:
The co-host of a recent top-dollar fundraiser for Sen. John McCain oversaw the payment of roughly $1.7 million to a Colombian paramilitary group that is today designated a terrorist organization by the United States.
Carl H. Lindner Jr., the billionaire Cincinnati businessman, was CEO of Chiquita Brands International from 1984 to 2001, and remained on the company’s board of directors until May 2002. Beginning under his tenure, Chiquita executives paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (known by the Spanish acronym AUC), which is described by George Washington University’s National Security Archive as an “illegal right-wing anti-guerrilla group tied to many of the country’s most notorious civilian massacres.”
However, the story really is not that simple, and 60 Minutes had a piece on this in May that I thought was fascinating. Some backstory:
But since the 1980’s, the business of bananas there has been punctuated with gunfire. First, the area was taken over by Marxist guerillas called the “FARC,” whose ruthlessness at killing and kidnapping was exceeded only by the private paramilitary army that rose up to fight them. Chiquita found itself trying to grow bananas in the middle of a war, in which the Colombian government and its army were of no help.
“These lands were lands where there was no law. It was impossible for the government to protect employees,” says Fernando Aguirre, who became Chiquita’s CEO long after all this happened.
Aguirre says the company was forced to pay taxes to the guerillas when they controlled the territory in the late 1980s and early 90s. When the paramilitaries, known as the “AUC,” moved in in 1997 they demanded the same thing.
“Did the paramilitaries state, specifically to you, that if you didn’t make the payments, your people would be killed?” Kroft asks.
“There was a very, very strong signal that if the company would not make payments, that things would happen. And since they had already killed at least 50 people, employees of the company, it was clear to everyone there that these guys meant business,” Aguirre says.
Chiquita only had a couple of options and none of them were particularly good. It could refuse to pay the paramilitaries and run the risk that its employees could be killed or kidnapped, it could pack up and leave the country all together and abandon its most profitable enterprise, or it could stay and pay protection, and in the process, help finance the atrocities that were being committed all across the countryside.
“These were extortion payments,” Aguirre says. “Either you pay or your people get killed.”
“And you decided to pay,” Kroft remarks.
“And the company decided to pay, absolutely,” Aguirre says.
There was no doubt in the company’s mind that the paramilitaries were very bad people, Aguirre says.
Read the whole thing.
Not to go all corporate shill and defend McCain and Chiquita, because I know what would be going on if the shoe were on the other foot (witness this bullshit WaPo piece on Obama’s home loan– also notice that the Red State hacks still have not commented on our appropriating torture methods from the chicoms but sure as hell are lying about Obama’s loan), but the facts are more complicated than “a prominent McCain backer supports terrorism.”