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Colombia: Prosecutor charges 200 companies with crimes against humanity for financing paramilitary groups

"Colombian Companies Charged for Crimes Against Humanity", 4 Feb 2017

Around 200 local and international companies are facing charges for crimes against humanity for allegedly financing paramilitary death squads in northern Colombia, local media reported.  On Thursday, the Prosecutor General’s Office announced that for the first time private companies were charged with crimes against humanity...Multinational companies, including Del Monte, Dole Food Company and Chiquita were named for voluntarily financing right-wing paramilitary groups...The so-called “Banana Block” was an umbrella organization of the United Self Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, and controlled territory in the area to protect the banana producers...These paramilitary groups often enjoyed the support of the country’s politicians...Alvaro Uribe, former Colombian president and major critic of the peace deal, had supported the formation of legal self-defense organizations.  According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the funding for the Banana Block was funneled through Convivir Papagayo group, which was given legal certification under Uribe’s plan.  Other high profile companies, including Coca-Cola, Colombia’s largest beverage company Postobon, cement company Cementos Argos and state oil company Ecopetrol, have been accused of financing death squads through what is commonly referred to as the “para-economy.”...