As part of the Boycott Israel Campaign we have
been boycotting Coca-Cola for some time (see Coca
Cola Boycott Page). For nearly 40 years Coca-Cola has been
a staunch supporter of the apartheid regime occupying Palestine.
Now workers in Colombia have also launched a boycott campaign
against Coca-Cola. Apparently Coca-Cola have been murdering union
leaders in Colombia.
We fully support their campaign.
Its interesting to see that Nestle, another
company we are boycotting,
is also mentioned for its serious human rights violations in Colombia.
boycott launched after killings at Colombian plants
Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogota
24 July 2003
Trade unions around the world have launched a boycott of Coca-Cola
products, alleging that the company's locally owned bottlers in
Colombia used illegal paramilitary groups to intimidate, threaten
and kill its workers.
The unions claim Coca-Cola bottlers hired far-right militias of
the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) to murder nine
union members at Colombian bottling plants in the past 13 years.
Two years ago, the Colombian food and drink union Sinaltrainal
sued Coca-Cola and its Colombian bottling partners in a US federal
court in Miami over the deaths of its members.
The suit alleged that the bottling companies "contracted with
or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilised
extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or
otherwise silenced trade union leaders", and that Coca-Cola
was indirectly responsible for this.
In March, the judge removed Coca-Cola from the suit, but the process
against the bottlers continues. The unions have appealed against
the court's decision.
While the case continues, unions are calling on consumers to stop
drinking Coke and other Coca-Cola products. The campaign was launched
simultaneously in countries including the UK, US, Germany, Italy
Javier Correa, the president of Sinaltrainal, said the campaign
aimed to put pressure on Coca-Cola "to mitigate the pain and
suffering" that union members had suffered.
Coca-Cola said in a statement on Tuesday that the allegations against
the company and its partners were "completely false",
and that the campaign was "nothing more than a shameless effort
to generate publicity".
But Mr Correa insisted that - despite increased international attention
- actions against union members have continued.
He said that in May, an anonymous caller to the union headquarters
in Colombia warned that the offices would be targeted for a bomb
attack. In March, a worker in the city of Bucaramanga received a
notice from paramilitary groups that he had been declared a military
While the plight of Colombia's Coca-Cola workers has become well-known
overseas, local media were making no mention of the campaign yesterday.
"In Colombia it is very difficult for this type of case to
make it into local media," Mr Correa said. "It's all part
of the culture of impunity."
Sinaltrainal decided to seek international support after it became
frustrated with the courts' delays in considering the deaths of
"Cases that are 13 years old still have not been cleared up
- no one has been detained and the cases end up unresolved,"
said Mr Correa.
One of the union's accusations is that managers at a bottling plant
in the town of Carepa in northern Colombia directed paramilitary
fighters to kill two union leaders in 1994. Two years later a member
of the union's executive board was killed at the plant by paramilitary
gunmen, the lawsuit says.
The latest death of a Sinaltrainal member happened last August,
when Adolfo Munera was murdered in Caribbean coastal city of Barranquilla.
A week earlier, the country's highest court had ordered the city's
Coca-Cola bottler to re-employ him, after he was cleared of criminal
charges filed against him in 1997
Coca Cola's Colombian bottlers have also denied the accusations.
Colombia is the world's most dangerous country in which to be a
union member, with 184 of the world's 213 confirmed killings last
year, according to the International Confederation of Free Trade
Coca Cola Boycott Campaign
Coca Cola and Nestlé both stand accused of serious human
rights violations in Colombia. While Nestlé sack union members,
Coca Cola kill them. Paramilitary Death Squads, acting under orders
from Coca Cola management, have assassinated 8 trade union leaders
in their workplaces. The union, SINTRAMINERCOL, has responded by
calling for an international boycott of Coca Cola and all of their
products, to start on 22 July.
Coca Cola Genocide
The incandescent red and white logo of Coca-Cola - the worlds
fastest selling non-alcoholic beverage - has long secured its niche
as the global mascot of The American Dream and the successes and
happiness rendered by capitalism.
Ongoing abuses suffered by Latin American Coca-Cola workers demonstrate
that such success often comes at a terrible price. Specifically,
the multinational has been riding on the back of Colombias
dirty war on social protest a war that has engendered the
paramilitarys hounding of food and beverage union SINALTRAINAL.
The message behind the violence and threats of violence is always
the same: Dissolve the union or else
This repression has helped Panamco S.A, Coca-Colas local
franchisee, to drastically reduce their production costs by minimising
salaries and firing over five-thousand workers whilst doubling their
production, and their profits.
The litany of abuses suffered at the hands of the paramilitaries
includes the assassination of eight workers who were local leaders,
three union members have been forced into exile, over sixty live
under the shadow of death threats and some forty-eight others have
Union President Javier Correa describes conditions. "The paramilitaries
have graffitied threats and accusations against us on the walls
of the bottling plants. These plants have become like concentration
camps. The army patrols the buildings. There is so much repression
that union workers are even followed into the toilet. One worker
killed himself. In his suicide note he blamed Coca-Cola.
And he explains the corporation's attitude: Coca-Cola has
turned from a time of exploitation to a time of slavery. Because
the workers continue to resist this oppression the paramilitaries
now try to kidnap family members, theyve burnt union headquarters
and destroyed whatever evidence they can so we are unable to bring
a case against them. If SINALTRAINAL is dissolved," adds Correa
"we face assassinations".
William Mendoza is SINALTRAINAL branch President in Barrancameja
an oil rich town at the epicentre of Colombias conflict.
The paramilitaries attempted to kidnap his daughter last year. Mendoza
describes SINALTRAINAL as under siege
plant manager tells the paramilitaries that we are terrorists. We
have become military targets. Would-be union members at the Coca-Cola
plant now see joining SINALTRAINAL as like signing ones own
The Colombian state has neither investigated, brought to justice
nor punished those responsible for the killings.
So with help from the American Steelworkers Union, a federal court
case has been put forward against Coca-Cola in the U.S. to gain
reparation for the victims. Panamco has responded by taking SINALTRAINAL
to the Colombian courts renowned for corruption - with charges
Failed and abused by both the Colombian system and Coca-Cola, SINALTRAINAL
has turned to the people and the international community to explain
Since July last year three International Public Hearings have taken
place, the first in Atlanta in July, the second in Brussels in October
and the final one in Bogotá on 5th December 2002. These hearings
were a formidable expression of resistance. The aim? To denounce
and combat the devastating effects of terrorism: both by the Colombian
state and by the multinational companies.
All those who took part in the hearings have pledged to campaign,
consolidate the solidarity network and endeavour to start breaking
the colossal Coca-Cola culture. The obstacles are big,
acknowledges Pedro Marecha, the unions defiant lawyer, but
we will overcome them.
SINALTRAINAL leader Carlos Julía gave an unforgettable testimony
at the Bogotá hearing. He told the 500-strong audience:
When you drink Coca-Cola
remember that you are contributing to a process which sews unemployment,
hunger and pain. The young, happy image projected by Coca-Cola
masks the suffering and the return of profits from Colombia to
the U.S. We ask Coca-cola to stop killing and you to stop drinking
Coca Cola Update 22 July 2003
NEWS FROM BOGOTA, TOTNES AND AROUND THE WORLD
Speaking from Colombia's capital city Bogota last night, Javier
Luis Correa president of the food and drinks workers union Sinaltrainal
" We are very encourage by the international response to our
call to boycott Coca Cola products. The launch of the boycott will
In the USA launch activities will take place at Coke's headquarters
in New York and its main US production base in Atlanta Georgia,
as well as San Francisco, Washington and Chicago. Groups will launch
the boycott in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sidney Australia.
The boycott starts in continental Europe with activities today in
Berlin - Germany; Bern - Switzerland; Belgium; Madrid, Zaragoza
and Viporoa - Spain; Rome and Perilla - Italy. There will also be
a launch activity in South Africa, and the campaign has support
of unions in Brazil, Chile and Venezuela.
Sinaltrainal is working with Colombia's main union federation CUT
and a range of organisations to launch the boycott inside the country.
There will be a demonstration outside Coke's principal Bogota bottling
plant, and activities in the regional capitals of Medellin, Cali,
Barrancabermeja, Bucaramanga and Cucuta. The situation in Barrancabermeja
is especially tense where, despite open paramilitary control of
the city, a civic strike is expected this Thursday.
In the UK various support groups are launching the boycott today
in Bristol, Leicester and Totnes, Devon as well as in London. There
has been a small breakthrough already in Totnes, where two cafe
restaurants have already pledged not to sell Coca Cola products.
Many more areas are expected to leaflet shops and consumers this
Javier Luis Correa calls for the support of trade unions, social
movements and the general public internationally, "We are doing
this to save the lives of our members." Eight union members
and the wife of a Coca Cola worker have been assassinated.
Coca Cola UK Launch 22 July 2003
The International Day of Action to launch the boycott of Coca Cola
was taken up by a number of groups with at least seven protest actions
across the country, with news of more still coming in.
The Colombia Solidarity Campaign group in Portsmouth had kicked
things off the previous Saturday when they collected a thousand
signatures from members of the public on a street stall.
And today, 22nd July, the Campaign's rally in Piccaddilly Circus,
a gathering point for tourists and young people in London's west
end, this evening was a huge success. Hundreds of people listened
to speeches and danced to samba rhythms as four 'waitresses' passed
through the crowd offering Coke blood drinks. Marta Hinestroza,
a refugee lawyer representing peasnt farmers displaced off their
land by BP's pipelines in Colombia, called for a boycott of Coca
Cola as representative of how multinationals are plundering the
natural resources of the Colombian people, and using violent methods
to crush opposition.
Earlier in the day a group from the Cardiff Anarchist Network took
direct action. They entered Coke bottling and distribution plant
in Edmonton, north London. One of the protesters locked himself
to a lorry, some locked the plant's gates while others pressed emergency
buttons to stop the production line. During the two hour production
stoppage for the emergency services to arrive the protesters meantime
talked to workers inside the plant to explain their action. And
the paramedic who arrived to assist the protester locked to a lorry
turned out to be a representative of public sector union UNISON
and was completely supportive. The protesters were detained by police,
but released after Coca Cola decided not to press the charge of
'conspiracy to commit burglary'. One protester overheard Coke managers
saying over the police radio that £30,000 worth of output
had been lost.
In Hammersmith, also in London, another group called International
Socialist Resistance held a picket of Coca Cola's UK headquarters.
The group reports protests in several UK cities, including Leicester,
Newcastle, Manchester and Cardiff.