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Chiquita Secrets Revealed
September 7, 2006 8:37 PM   Subscribe

Chiquita Secrets Revealed - On May 3, 1998, the Cincinnati Enquirer published a series of investigative articles on Chiquita's business practices in South America, all in its own pullout section. The stories claimed the company sprayed workers in the field with pesticides and destroyed a village to stop union activity, among other offenses. A few weeks later, the Enquirer ran a huge apology on its front page for three days, and paid the company $10 million, because a reporter illegally accessed Chiquita voicemail in the course of his work. The renouncement became more of a story than the original articles, but one question remains: are the stories true? To this day, the Enquirer refuses to give a straight answer.
posted by brett (18 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Will they give a gay answer?
posted by Eekacat at 8:42 PM on September 7, 2006


The Invisible Hand has gone bananas.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:43 PM on September 7, 2006


I feel like I've seen this story a few times here, but I think only in comments. Nice job putting this together, for those who hadn't seen it.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:46 PM on September 7, 2006


I remember thinking at the time the apology ran that the Chiquita voicemails were only a small element of the story, and that there was so much else about the story that had been well-demonstrated (illegal toxins, workers exposed, horrid labor practices, etc.) that it was a damn shame the Enquirer renounced the whole thing because of the relatively unimportant voicemails. Re-reading the links, it seems clear the paper went overboard in large part because it hadn't followed its own normal editing procedure on the story, which probably left it wide open to a massive lawsuit. Even the Chiquita president seems to agree the voicemails were a minor piece (the "more of a story" link):

Warshaw recalled that as he read the stories in May, he was shocked to see the Enquirer place such emphasis on the 2,000 voice-mail messages as a source for the series - both because he questioned how the paper could have obtained them and because he knew that the messages typically included little of substance. 'For the most part, they're just a lot of blah-blah-blah,' he says.
posted by mediareport at 9:40 PM on September 7, 2006


Yeah, this is the part that gets me, from the last link:

It's clear that Chiquita demanded and got some sort of lawyered statement from The Enquirer that inexplicably and against all logic wiped out the entire Chiquita series. That included all the stories with no connection to the voice mails: the firsthand reporting from banana plantations in Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama (including photographs of a 15-year-old who had allegedly been shot by Chiquita security forces); the well-documented history of United Fruit Co., the company that founded "banana republics" and eventually became Chiquita; and the article about Chiquita's struggle with European banana quotas. [emphasis added]
posted by mediareport at 9:45 PM on September 7, 2006


Loverly. I guess the story can come out now that bananas are heading for extinction. (Well, our stereotypical long yellow ones, at least.)
posted by five fresh fish at 9:53 PM on September 7, 2006


For another example of somebody's story seeming mostly true, but attacked on a few minor details by the national press (and thereby discredited), see Gary Webb and his "Dark Alliance" coverage of the CIA/Nicaraguan cocaine drug cartel.
posted by one_bean at 10:13 PM on September 7, 2006


Wow... unusual to see any admission of 'complexity' in this fallen day and age.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:30 PM on September 7, 2006


...now that bananas are heading for extinction.

Snopes says:
Claim: Bananas will be extinct within ten years.
Status: False.
posted by pracowity at 4:03 AM on September 8, 2006


Claim: Bananas will be extinct within ten years.
Status: False.


Snopes does not dispute that the cavendish, the "stereotypical long yellow ones" that fff specifically mentions, are in danger.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:32 AM on September 8, 2006


Sure, that one variety is in danger of becoming commercially unviable. It would not mean the end of the banana or even of one variety of banana. Not extinct. A business, not a species, is threatened. See also: UN Food and Agriculture Organization
posted by pracowity at 5:31 AM on September 8, 2006


Don't tell me a corporation would do something illegal to obtain more profit at expense of others !

That just can't be true !...actually it isn't true...corporations are legal tricks, they are runned by people...

Don't tell me upstanding moral work donators may do something shady to obtain more profit at expense of others !

Your boss actually GIVES money to you..where it comes from, why do you care ?
posted by elpapacito at 7:13 AM on September 8, 2006


A business, not a species, is threatened.

And, gosh, just what is it we were talking about here? Why, a fucking business.

Did you have some sort of relevant point, pracowity, or were you just masturbating?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 AM on September 8, 2006


You said bananas are heading for extinction, I corrected you, and now you get pissy about it.
posted by pracowity at 11:44 AM on September 8, 2006


I as much said the Cavendish are going extinct. Learn to read.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:25 PM on September 8, 2006


Yes,we have no bananas
posted by hortense at 8:43 PM on September 8, 2006


Ring ring ring ring Bananaphone!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:50 AM on September 9, 2006


It took me a long time to realize this was about the banana people.
posted by etoile at 12:40 PM on September 12, 2006


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