Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eric Holder the Chiquita Banana Republic Man

Here we go again, another bad choice by Obama if he appoints Eric Holder as Attorney General.

Mario A Murillo writes…


Most news accounts about the pending appointment seem to be limiting their criticism of Holder to one of his final acts as President Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general in 2001. At the time, on the last day of Clinton's term, Holder apparently said he was "neutral, leaning toward favorable" for a presidential pardon for Marc Rich, the wealthy commodities dealer whose ex-wife, Denise, was a major donor to the Democratic Party. Clinton's pardon of the tax-evading Rich was criticized as politically motivated, leading to a congressional investigation over the matter.

What is not being discussed too much, and was not even mentioned in today's New York Times report, is Holder's key role in defending Chiquita Brands International in a notorious case relating to the company's funneling money and weapons to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, AUC, the right-wing paramilitary organization on the U.S. State Department's own list of terrorist organizations.

In 2003, an Organization of American States report showed that Chiquita's subsidiary in Colombia, Banadex, had helped divert weapons and ammunition, including thousands of AK-47s, from Nicaraguan government stocks to the AUC. The AUC – very often in collaboration with units of the U.S.-trained Armed Forces - is responsible for hundreds of massacres of primarily peasants throughout the Colombian countryside, including in the banana-growing region of Urabá, where it is believed that at least 4,000 people were killed. Their systematic use of violence resulted in the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of poor Colombians, a disproportionate amount of those people being black or indigenous. In 2004, Holder helped negotiate an agreement with the Justice Department for Chiquita that involved the fruit company's payment of "protection money" to the AUC, in direct violation of U.S. laws prohibiting this kind of transaction. In the agreement brokered by Holder, Chiquita officials pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $25 million, to be paid over a 5-year period. However, not one Chiquita official involved in the illegal transactions was forced to serve time for a crime that others have paid dearly for, mainly because they did not have the kind of legal backing that Holder's team provided. Holder continues to represent Chiquita in the civil action, which grew out of this criminal case.

Click on the link above for the whole story.

What is Obama thinking? As Murillo points out if you bother to read the whole article Obama recently spoke against the Colombia-U.S free trade agreement because of human rights issues. But typically for Obama what he says and what he does are two different things entirely.

According to Wikipedia the AUC was added to a list of terrorist groups by the U.S. State Department.


The AUC's main enemies are leftist insurgency groups, the FARC and ELN. All three are in the European Union's lists of terrorist organizations and also classified as a foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. The US State Department added the AUC to the list in 2001, condemning it for massacres, torture, and other human rights abuses against civilians.

According to the Colombian National Police, in the first ten months of 2000 the AUC conducted 804 assassinations, 203 kidnappings, and 75 massacres with 507 victims. The AUC claims the victims were mostly guerrillas or sympathizers. Combat tactics consist of conventional and guerrilla operations against main force insurgent units. AUC clashes with military and police units gradually increased, although the group has traditionally been friendly with government security forces.

A February 2005 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that, during 2004, "the AUC was responsible for 342 cases of violations of the cessation of hostilities. These include the presumed reincorporation of demobilized persons into its ranks, massacres, forced displacements, selective and systematic homicides, kidnappings, rape, disappearances, threats, intimidation and lootings. These actions took place in 11 departments and targeted the civilian population, in many cases indigenous communities." [2]

This is the group that Chiquita was supplying with weapons the same company that Holder continues to represent. Let’s hope that Obama comes to his senses. But then hope has never been a great plan for change.


At November 20, 2008 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes we can!

My sister is an Obamanut who just poo poos this kind of stuff. Just gotta be realistic, she says, as the Obama team lards up with Clinton Administration hacks and Savage Mules. No we don't.

At November 20, 2008 5:59 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Brian,

Yes we can-- but will we?

I'm inclined to think your assessment of your sister applies to many millions, and not just because of that election earlier this month.

People who want to explain to the rest of the population why Obama-ism is highly unlikely to be meaningfully progressive have their work cut out for them.

I've said this many times, usually to the choir at ATR comment threads, but also in other forums: the Democrats have deliberately undertaken a project to reshape themselves into the secular wing of the GOP.

If I was hale enough to climb up to my rooftop, let alone a mountaintop, and announce it to the country I would do it, but the crowd humming the latest Will.I.Am ditty doesn't want to hear it.

At November 20, 2008 11:28 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Brian, People do interpret criticism of Obama as cynical but what seems cynical to me is that we can’t do any better than what the DLC hands us and calling that pragmatic. You should hear the flak I get from my Mom.

Jonathan, that they don’t want to hear it is an understatement! It might endanger the Obama moment.


Post a Comment

<< Home