The former United Fruit Company, which goes by the name Chiquita these days, has been learning a painful lesson about listening to the anti-oil fruitcakes at the American group, ForestEthics. Chiquita might think twice before making that mistake again. The question is: Will Dole?
Dole produces bananas too, but it doesn’t have a corporate history quite as, shall we say, colourful as Chiquita, a company with links to Third World government coups and which was caught, just a few years ago, funding terrorists. When Chiquita tried whitewashing its human rights sins by agreeing to participate in a ForestEthics boycott of Canada’s ethical oil, customers were understandably outraged. Canada’s oil, after all, is produced in a country that respects human rights, the environment, peace and stability — all the things that Chiquita has had plenty of trouble with before.
The backlash was brutal. As The Economist noted: “This may have pleased environmentalists, but it infuriated Canadians who depend on the oil industry. A pro-business lobby called EthicalOil.org is urging a boycott of Chiquita’s products that is said to be costing the company a fortune. Chiquita would not quantify its losses.”
Evidently the foreign-funded radicals at ForestEthics see Chiquita’s severe loss as their gain: they’ve begun ramping up their campaign to pressure the fruit giant Dole to follow Chiquita’s foolish lead. “Big American corporations like Dole need to serve us — not Big Oil,” they write in a ridiculously asinine letter. Oil companies are American corporations, just like fruit companies, and Dole doesn’t “serve” them; it just buys gasoline from them, just like millions of commuters do every day — whether it’s from oil sands sources or other sources.
Clearly no one would accuse the extremists at ForestEthics of understanding, or caring, how economies actually function — when you work in a bubble of activists funded by foreign trusts with billions of dollars at their disposal, the real economy is meaningless, anyway (that’s why they don’t care about putting Canadians out of work with their calls for boycotts, for example).
But presumably the folks who run Dole have a better grasp of economic, and ethical, realities, and if they’ve been paying attention, they’d know that there’s nothing to gain by shunning the most ethically produced oil in the world to suck up to a fringe group of zealots. But choosing to buy more conflict oil from Saudi Arabia and Venezuela while insulting millions of Canadians proud of our commitment to peace, the environment and rights for women, minorities and workers? As Chiquita is discovering the hard way, that’s a strategy that’s a surefire loser.
To read more about the Boycott Chiquita campaign, click here.