Following the publication of the article, Chiquita took immediate action against the newspaper, stating that the voicemails used in the investigation had been obtained illegally. The Cincinnati Enquirer backed the report for a week, but after much pressure from the Cincinnati government (backed by Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters who drove the investigation against Gallagher and who, incidentally, had received multiple campaign donations from Chiquita), the Enquirer was forced to print a retraction, stating that the voicemails were illegally obtained. The Enquirer paid $10 million in a settlement to Chiquita Banana to avoid being sued, and despite the Enquirer’s adamant statement to the New York Times that voicemails were, in fact, real, the publication was forced to print an apology to the corporation and to fire Michael Gallagher. Despite repeated exposure of its corruption in the media, Chiquita Banana continues its domination in the imported fruit industry (second in line only to Dole), and continues its reign of terror on its over-worked, under-paid employees and the environment in which they work.
Yet corporate greed is not contained simply to the violation of worker’s rights and the destruction of the environment at the hands of its pollutants. Perhaps one of the greatest criminals in corporate corruption are the war profiteers. Ever since the Second World War brought a nation out of its greatest economic depression, war profiteering has yet to receive much criticism in the media. And so, today, in the endless atrocity that is the War in Iraq, war profiteering has unfolded at an unprecedented rate. Aside from the household names, like Halliburton and OPEC, a multitude of unspoken corporations are making billions off of the bloodshed of others. US corporations Titan and CACI have provided 36 interrogators at Abu Gharib prison who have been linked to multiple counts of abuse and torture of the prison’s inmates. Private lawsuits have been numerous against both companies. In 2005, Titan pleaded guilty to three felony charges of international bribery and was forced to pay a penalty fine of $28.5 million under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Yet this fine did not deter the company’s current-running contract with the US Army, which is currently worth over $1 billion. Other corrupt contracts include that of the $293 million contract between the US government and Aegis, which provides private security and military contractors throughout Iraq. Currently, an estimated 48,000 PSM’s are stationed throughout the country and it is estimated that this will explode into a $200 billion per year industry within the next three years.
Bechtel, the San Francisco-based construction and engineering conglomerate, was contracted by the US government in the re-building of Iraq’s infrastructure. And even the company’s failure to complete projects thoroughly, on deadline, or within budget has had no negative effect on the corporation’s $2.4 billion no-bid contract. Interestingly enough, the corporation has also failed to train any Iraqi engineers in the operation of the water, sewage, and electricity plants they have built, so no non-Bechtel employees will be around to run things when the corporation leaves. Just imagine the contracts that will be extended by the Iraqi government at that time! Other contractors currently profiteering from the War in Iraq include Custer Battles, which has taken in $20 billion of Iraqi money, defense contractors such as General Dynamics (whose profits have more than tripled since 9/11) and Nour USA Ltd., which has received $400 million in Iraq contracts (including an $80 million contract to provide oil pipeline security), not to mention the oil imperialists themselves, Chevron, ExxonMobile, and their petrol profiteering contemporaries.
The greed of corporate imperialism knows no bounds; and the scary thing is, there seems to be no good reason why. Would it really be such a great sacrifice for a multi-billion dollar corporation to pay its workers a decent wage, provide them with health insurance, and guarantee their basic rights as workers? What would the difference be between the corporation being moderately wealthy versus being disgustingly rich? This is a horrific enough reality when looking at underpaid workers in retail stores, abused workers in sweatshops, and oppressed laborers in banana fields. But when the cost of profit comes through the shedding of human blood, the offense has gone beyond the realms of corporate irresponsibility; it is an international crime which violates every definition of justice. Yet the machine will continue to reign, so long as government bodies continue to profit from the crimes and so long as the media fail in its duty to expose them.
1st September 2007