Poll: Chiquita Banana Gets in a Dangerous Pickle

Last Updated Apr 8, 2008 2:11 PM EDT

Dan Mitchell, my colleague over at BNET Intercom, blogged last week about a dangerous dilemma Chiquita Brands International found itself in down in Colombia. Last year, the company pled guilty to paying $1.7 million to Colombian paramilitary groups, and agreed to pay a $25 million fine. The company says it was extorted by the groups, and the payment was to protect its employees.

Now, a new lawsuit argues that Chiquita is complicit in the deaths of five American missionaries killed by the paramilitary groups, because that "protection money" was used to buy weapons (the lawsuit was filed by the victims' families).

As Mitchell wrote, it's not hard to conjure up some sympathy for Chiquita if it was, in fact, simply trying to protect its employees. At the same time, the company always had the option of pulling out of Colombia. They would lose business, but wouldn't lose, as Mitchell put it, most of their moral capital.[poll id=35]Think Mitchell was right? Should Chiquita have pulled out of Colombia and saved its ethical backbone? Or is this the sad reality of doing business in unstable countries? Tell us in the comments section.

Have a workplace-ethics dilemma you'd like to see in this poll? Email wherestheline (at) gmail.com
(Editors Note: In the original post "Colombia" was spelled "Columbia." We regret the error.)

  • William Baker

    William Baker is a freelance writer living in Cambridge, MA. His work has appeared in Popular Science, the Boston Globe Magazine, the New York Daily News, Boston Magazine, The Weekly Dig and a bunch of other places (including Field & Stream, though he doesn't hunt and can't really fish). He is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, where he writes the weekly column, "Meeting the Minds." He holds a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is at work on his first book.