Unions and social organizations held a commemoration Dec. 6 at Ciénaga, in the Colombian Caribbean coast department of Magdalena, marking the anniversary of the 1928 “Masacre de las Bananeras,” carried out by the army against hundreds of striking workers of the United Fruit Company. Hundreds gathered in what is now called Plaza of the Martyrs to hear speeches and testimony from aging survivors and descendants of the massacre victims. Up to a thousand were killed by some estimates when the army surrounded and opened fire on a union rally in Ciénaga’s central plaza in the midst of a strike over collective bargaining rights—although the official death toll was put at nine. (Radio Caracol, Dec. 6)
Chiquita Brands, successor company to the United Fruit Co., is currently mired in a scandal over collaboration with Colombia’s right-wing paramilitaries. The company is accused of paying the paramilitaries up to $1.7 million, as well as directly providing weapons, over the past seven years. During this period, some 4,000 residents of Colombia’s northern banana-producing regions have been killed by the paras.
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