As you may remember, [Columbia] is not a new obsession for McCain. Puzzlingly, the first thing he did after he clinched the Republican nomination, at the beginning of July, was to get on a plane and go to…Colombia. Or maybe not so puzzlingly. In the second paragraph of the New York Times story previewing the trip, Larry Rohter wrote:
Since 1998, the lobbying firm headed until recently by Charlie Black, one of Mr. McCain's closest confidants, has earned more than $1.8 million representing the Occidental Petroleum Corporation, the leading foreign producer of gas and oil in Colombia. The lobbying firm, BKSH & Associates, has also represented Colombian textile and apparel manufacturers and a former foreign minister and presidential candidate who is also a prominent businesswoman.
The Times went on to note that human rights groups have accused Occidental of complicity in the killing of peasants and labor leaders believed (erroneously, in the case of the labor leaders) to be affiliated with guerrilla groups.
The week before McCain left for Colombia, Carl H. Linder, Jr., who made billions as the C.E.O. of Chiquita Brands International, hosted a fundraiser for McCain at his home in Cincinnati, Ohio. It raised $2 million—a lot of money, though not much compared to the $25 million fine Chiquita paid for paying, under Linder's leadership, more millions to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, a bloodthirsty paramilitary group which the State Department officially classified as a terrorist organization. But, as Nico Pitney pointed out at the time in a well-documented report at the Huffington Post, Chiquita was an equal-opportunity terror funder in Colombia: it also made payments to leftist guerrilla groups, including the notorious FARC. Nothing to do with ideology, of course. Just a routine business expense.