August 25, 1997
THE BANANA REPUBLIC!
Chiquita Bananas weren’t doing too well. In fact, the company that makes them had lost about $360 million dollars from 1990 through 1994. Chiquita Brands chairman Carl Lindner knew his company needed some help.
The Republican Party also hadn’t done too well in the U.S. Presidential races, and Democrat Bill Clinton was in power. Billionaire Lindner had been a longtime Republican financial supporter, but perhaps it was time for a change.
Chiquita, which grows its bananas in Central America, had a problem. The countries of the European Union had set up tariff and trade restrictions to favor their former banana-growing colonies in the Caribbean, effectively shutting Chiquita out of the huge European Market.
The Clinton administration filed a protest against the European Union restrictions to the World Trade Organization, which ruled in favor of Chiquita. Chiquita Brands, and the Lindner family, added millions to their billions by virtue of the ruling. So far, so good: no reason why Central American bananas shouldn’t be sold in Europe on the same terms as Caribbean bananas.
By a strange coincidence, Mr. Lindner and his companies, who had generally favored the Republican Party with their financial support, became enthusiastic Democrats. In fact, within hours of the Clinton administration formally issuing the challenge to the World Trade Organization, Lindner quietly gave about $415,000 to various state Democratic parties.
Prior to making the contributions, Mr. Lindner had met with President Clinton for coffee. No word yet on where that coffee was grown.
(Source: Washington Times.)
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