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A Colombian girl in El Salado displays a copy of the Memoria Histórica report: La Masacre de El Salado: esa guerra no era nuestra (The El Salado Massacre: That Was Not Our War). [Photo: Michael Evans]

The Colombia Documentation Project

Michael Evans, project director


About the Project - The National Security Archive's Colombia Project seeks to identify and obtain the release of documents from secret government archives on United States policy in Colombia and to disseminate these records through publications, conferences and the Archive's web site. Major themes of the project include security assistance, human rights, impunity and counternarcotics programs.


Colombia Documentation Project Archive

December 16, 2011
"Godfather" of Colombian Army Intelligence Acquitted in Palace of Justice Case
Gen. Iván Ramírez Led Unit that "Tortured and Killed" Palace of Justice Detainees in 1985.

September 29, 2011
Who Killed Jaime Garzón?
Document Points to Military/Paramilitary Nexus in Murder of Popular Colombian Comedian

September 29, 2010
The United States vs. Rito Alejo del Río
Ambassador Cited Accused Colombian General's Reliance on Death Squads

June 11, 2010
Landmark Conviction in Colombia's Palace of Justice Case
First-Ever Criminal Sentence Handed Down in Infamous Army Assault

October 28, 2009
Secrets and Lies
The U.S. Embassy and Col. Plazas Vega

September 24, 2009
Conspiracy of Silence?
Colombia, the United States and the Massacre at El Salado

January 7, 2009
"Body count mentalities"
Colombia's "False Positives" Scandal, Declassified

October 5, 2008
Trujillo Declassified
Documenting Colombia's 'tragedy without end'

March 4, 2008
Slain Colombian Insurgent Held Secret Talks with U.S. Diplomats

Declassified State Department Memo Describes Clandestine 1998 Meetings with Colombian Guerrillas Central to Current Saber-Rattling in Andean Region

February 16, 2008
Paramilitaries and the United States: "Unraveling the Pepes Tangled Web"
Documentes Describe Narco-Paramilitary Connection to U.S.-Colombia Anti-Escobar Task Force

July 1, 2007
The Truth About Triple-A

Document Implicates Current, Fomer Colombian Army Commanders in Terror Operation

March 29, 2007
Documents Implicate Colombian Government in Chiquita Terror Scandal

Company's Paramilitary Payoffs made throught Military's 'Convivir'

October 16, 2005
Paramilitaries as Proxies
Declassified evidence on the Colombian army's anti-guerrilla "allies"

August 2, 2004
U.S. Listed Colombian President Uribe Among "Important Colombian Narco-Traffickers in 1991"
Then-Senator "Dedicated to Collaboration with the Medellín Cartel at High Government Levels"

May 3, 2002
War in Colombia

Guerrillas, Drugs and Human Rights in U.S.-Colombia Policy, 1988-2002

April 23, 2001
Shootdown in Peru

The Secret U.S. Debate over Intelligence Sharing in Peru and Colombia



April 11, 2011
The Chiquita Papers

Banana Giant's Paramilitary Payoffs Detailed in Trove of Declassified Legal, Financial Documents

Evidence of Quid Pro Quo with Guerrilla, Paramilitary Groups Contradicts 2007 Plea Deal

Colombian Military Officials Encouraged, Facilitated Company's Payments to Death Squads

More than 5,500 Pages of Chiquita Records Published Online by National Security Archive

Bogotá, Colombia, April 7, 2011 - Confidential internal memos from Chiquita Brands International reveal that the banana giant benefited from its payments to Colombian paramilitary and guerrilla groups, contradicting the company's 2007 plea agreement with U.S. prosecutors, which claimed that the company had never received "any actual security services or actual security equipment in exchange for the payments." Chiquita had characterized the payments as "extortion."

These documents are among thousands that Chiquita turned over to the U.S. Justice Department as part of a sentencing deal in which the company admitted to years of illegal payments to the paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)--a State Department-designated foreign terrorist organization--and agreed to pay a $25 million fine. The Archive has obtained more than 5,500 pages of Chiquita's internal documents from the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act and is publishing the entire set online today. Key documents from the Chiquita Papers are included in the recently-published document collection, Colombia and the United States: Political Violence, Narcotics, and Human Rights, 1948-2010, now available as part of the Digital National Security Archive from ProQuest.

The documents provide evidence of mutually-beneficial "transactions" between Chiquita's Colombian subsidiaries and several illegal armed groups in Colombia and shed light on more than a decade of security-related payments to guerrillas, paramilitaries, Colombian security forces, and government-sponsored Convivir militia groups. The collection also details the company's efforts to conceal the so-called "sensitive payments" in the expense accounts of company managers and through other accounting tricks. The Justice Department investigation concluded that many of Chiquita's payments to the AUC (also referred to as "Autodefensas" in many of the documents) were made through legal Convivir organizations ostensibly overseen by the Colombian army.

New evidence indicating that Chiquita benefited from the illicit payments may increase the company's exposure to lawsuits representing victims of Colombia's illegal armed groups. The collection is the result of an Archive collaboration with George Washington University Law School's International Human Rights and Public Justice Advocacy Clinics and has been used in support of a civil suit brought against Chiquita led by Earth Rights International on behalf of hundreds of Colombian victims of paramilitary violence.

"These extraordinary records are the most detailed account to date of the true cost of doing business in Colombia," said Michael Evans, director of the National Security Archive's Colombia documentation project. "Chiquita's apparent quid pro quo with guerrillas and paramilitaries responsible for countless killings belies the company's 2007 plea deal with the Justice Department. What we still don't know is why U.S. prosecutors overlooked what appears to be clear evidence that Chiquita benefited from these transactions."

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