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Examination of Corporate Responsibility in the Chiquita Brands Case

Corporate responsibility and ethical issues connected to blackmailing can become serious complications for numerous companies operating in countries with paramilitary organizations. Given the threats from such terrorist groups and the lack of support from the law enforcement agencies, enterprises are often required to make controversial decisions regarding working and communicating with the illegal movements. The case of Chiquita Brands, an American organization that suffered from the extortion actions of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), is a pertinent example of how corporate responsibility influences a company’s decision-making processes.

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The offer of protection suggested by Carlos Castano and the threats following both compliance and noncompliance are serious issues for the future development of Chiquita in Colombia. Although there are three options available to the enterprise, namely agreeing to pay, refusing to pay, or exiting the country, each of these pathways might significantly damage the future of Chiquita Brands and its employees. In this regard, performing the necessary payments to the AUC is the most favorable option for sustaining the business and ensuring that the corporation’s workers are protected from the actions of the paramilitary group. Nevertheless, providing the AUC with financial support is a serious breach of corporate ethics, as this organization is directly involved in crimes against humanity, from kidnappings to guerrilla warfare (Wheeler, 2018). Therefore, as the company possesses a social responsibility to avoid actions that could cause harm to society, Chiquita should not agree to perform payments.

Alternatively, Chiquita Brands can refuse the offer, rejecting Castano’s protection services. This action ensures that the funds secured by the company are not used for any illegal activities or crimes against humanity, which is a significant advantage. Nevertheless, this endeavor also constitutes a substantial risk for the employees of Chiquita’s branch, Banadex, whose workers would suffer the possibility of kidnapping, murder, and other intolerable deeds (Bravo et al., 2013). Thus, this option also seems highly improbable to utilize, given the negative impact on the employees and the firm.

Finally, exiting the country is the last opportunity available to Chiquita brands in the current scenario. Initiating this endeavor word remarkably harm the development of the company in Columbia, as numerous plantations and workforce representatives would be abandoned. This action also tremendously impacts the employees of Banadex, who would lack any support from the employer and be forced to seek new occupations (Maurer, 2009). Nonetheless, this decision appears to be the most advantageous for Chiquita in the discussed environment, as it negates the necessity to indulge in illegal behavior and eliminates all connections with the AUC.

The results of country withdrawal could be less damaging to the company’s growth and reputation in comparison with other options. Agreeing to the payments would have the most detrimental effect on the enterprise’s standing, as it would involve sponsoring the paramilitary group’s crimes against humanity (Wheeler, 2018). On the other hand, the refusal could contribute to numerous adverse consequences, from damage to the plantations and the products to the lethal outcomes for the employees. Therefore, these actions violate the corporate responsibility requirements, as well as damage the core values adopted by the organization (Werre, 2003). However, withdrawal from the country allows the corporation to alleviate such negative ramifications, obtaining additional time to re-evaluate the possible options and propose a more beneficial strategy for the future.

To conclude, the case of Chiquita brands and its confrontation with the AUC was discussed in detail in this paper. It is evident that the complications following each of the three options have distinct consequences and differently impact the company and its employees. As the corporation is bound by corporate and social responsibility requirements, the executives must make a decision that minutely impacts the employees and society. Although withdrawing from the country contains several disadvantages, namely losing profits and abandoning the workers, it appears to be the most advantageous decision considering the surrounding circumstances.


Bravo, V., Molleda, J.-C., Dávila, A. F. G., & Botero, L. H. (2013). Testing Cross-National Conflict Shifting theory: An analysis of Chiquita Brands’ transnational crisis in Colombia. Public Relations Review, 39(1), 57–59.

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Maurer, V. G. (2009). Corporate social responsibility and the “Divided Corporate Self”: The case of Chiquita in Colombia. Journal of Business Ethics, 88, 595–603.

Werre, M. (2003). Implementing corporate responsibility: The Chiquita case. Journal of Business Ethics, 44(2/3), 247–260.

Wheeler, C. H. (2018). Re-examining corporate liability at the International Criminal Court through the lens of the article 15 communication against Chiquita Brands International. Melbourne Journal of International Law, 19(1), 369–388.

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