THE BLOG
03/21/2007 06:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Clean Up in the Produce Aisle! -- We Have a Terror Spill"

It's the kind of news story that demands using cheap puns. Chiquita Brands slipped on a banana peel and was forced to pay the U.S. government $25 million in fines because it had secretly paid protection money to a violent Colombian paramilitary group. The under-the-table money was insurance so that the world's largest banana producer's fields and workers would be kept out of harm's way from gun-toting thugs. Chiquita disclosed that $1.7 million had been paid over several years to the group.

Human rights organizations cried foul because the right-wing group practiced terror and killings, specifically targeting union activists. They complained that these were "blood bananas." (What will blood oranges be called if they too are found to have a terror link?)

According to the court documents filed in federal court in Washington, secret payments had been approved by senior executives at the Cincinnati-based company. Under the deal with the U.S. government, Chiquita has pled guilty to one charge of doing business with a known terrorist group and will have no immediate sanction other than the steep fine.

It's not the first time that terrorism and food products have been connected.

In Egypt and Gaza, you can happily munch on Yassir Arafat potato chips. Introduced while he was still alive and holed up in his Ramallah headquarters by the Israelis, the chips are bagged in Palestinian colors -- green, red, black and white -- and feature the likeness of a pot-belly Arafat in his military fatigues and checkered kafiyah. He's saluting with one hand and holding a Palestinian flag in the other.

Over at conservative Little Green Footballs, contributors had come up with potential marketing slogans for the Arafat chips. Some favorites include: "Death to Pringles, Death to Jews;" "Goes great with Hamas Hummus!;" "Try them today with new UN Observer Dip." and "Explodes in your mouth not in your hand."

Chips and violence go together like, well, chips and dip.

Baby boomers can remember the gun-toting Frito Bandito, who was the cartoon mascot for Fritos corn chips. From 1967 to 1971, this politically uncorrect action figure spoke broken English (voiced by Mel Blanc) and robbed people of their Frito corn chips. He was a caricature of Hollywood's caricature of Mexican bandits. There was even Frito Bandito Wanted Posters which described him as "cunning, clever and sneaky."

But the American Latino community found this racial stereotyping hard to swallow. Before the National Mexican-American Anti-Defamation Committee forced the Bandito into a permanent siesta in 1971, children all over the country-- in playgrounds and homes-- could be heard singing the popular jingle:

Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
I am dee Frito Bandito.
I love Frito's Corn Chips,
I love dem I do.
I love Frito's Corn Chips,
I take dem from you.

Perhaps one day Chiquita Brands might decide to rethink its policy of discontinuing its ties with violence. Why not create a marketing campaign centered around a fierce, soccer-loving Chiquita Bandita? Specificially, there'd be upbeat, health-oriented commercials going after American soccer moms and their kids. Our Bend-it-Like Beckham Bandita would be voiced by Salma Hayek who tells kids to exercise and avoid junk food.

Aye, yii, yii, yiiii,
I am dee Chiquita Bandita
You'll find no banana to be sweeter
Eat them breakfast and lunch
Explosive energy in each bunch
I am dee Chiquita Bandita

This article is cross-linked with www.politixxx.com where you'll find images of the orginal Frito Bandito and Araft chips.