Boycott Coca-Cola!


[Press releases from the UK-Colombia Solidarity Campaign]


“We ask Coca Cola to stop killing … and you to stop drinking Coke”  Carlos Julia, SINALTRAINAL, Colombia


An international boycott of Coca Cola products will be launched this Tuesday. Its main aim is to stop the policy of violent treatment that has left eight Colombian Coca Cola workers assassinated in recent years. The boycott has been called by Colombian food and drinks workers union SINALTRAINAL and has the endorsement of the country’s main trade union federation the CUT as well as the World Social Forum.


SINALTRAINAL accuses Coca Cola of working in consort with paramilitary death squads to remove union activists and hence the union organisation from its plants. Accusations centre on the murder of Carepa plant in Antioquia where 5 union members were assassinated between 1994 and 1996.


The union and the families of assassinated Coca Cola workers have also brought a civil court case under the US Alien Torts Act which is being considered by courts in Miami. On 31st March 2003 US District Court Judge Jose E. Martinez ruled that the case for compensation for human rights violations committed by paramilitaries on behalf of Coca-Cola bottlers Panamerican Beverages, Inc. (“Panamco”) and Bebidas y Alimentos (“Bebidas”) in Colombia can go forward.


Secretary of the UK based Colombia Solidarity Campaign, Andy Higginbottom said in London this weekend:


“Lawyers point out the significance of the US court decision. It has held that the allegations were sufficient to allow the case to proceed on a theory that the paramilitaries were acting in a symbiotic relationship with the Colombian government. Colombia’s current president Alvaro Uribe Velez was governor of Antioquia at the time. And in many ways the Carepa case exposes the sort of policies that he is attempting to now implement nationally.”


SINALTRAINAL and its supporters have called for a year long boycott of all Coca Cola products until a number of demands have been met, including that there are no more assassinations, that Coca Cola prints a memoriam of the murdered workers on its product labels and pays full reparations to the victims’ families. The union also demands that  Coca Cola supports an annual forum on human rights for workers in multinational companies.


SINALTRAINAL and its supporters have held three international public hearings in the last year. The first one was outisde Coca Cola’s coprorate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia on 20th July 2002, followed by a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels on 10th October and concluding with a forum in Bogota, Colombia on 5th December 2002. The campaign will be simultaneously launched in Bogota, several European capitals and the United States.  


Colombia Solidarity Campaign organiser David Rhys-Jones adds that in the UK: “Many groups around the country want to participate in the boycott campaign. The very fact that Coca Cola is sold just about everywhere means that the message of its wrong doings in Colombia can reach a mass audience.”


For more information contact David Rhys-Jones: 07932 034477


Colombia Solidarity Campaign, PO Box 8446, London N17 6NZ.


E-mail: [email protected] Web site www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk


 


COCA COLA WORKERS WHO HAVE BEEN ASSASSINATED


AVELINO ACHICANOY ERAZO


Worker at Embotelladora Nariñense S.A. -COCA COLA [Nariño Bottlers Ltd] in the city of Pasto in south west Colombia. He was assassinated by a shot through the right ear on 30th July 1990, at a time when the workers were on strike because their employer had refused to negotiate a set of demands presented by the Sintradingascol (Colombian National Union of Fizzy Drinks Workers). Avelino was member of the union’s Executive Committee and a member of the strike committee.


JOSÉ ELEASAR MANCO DAVID


A workers at Bebidas y Alimentos de Urabá S.A. -COCA COLA [Drinks and Foods of Urabá] in the town of Carepa, in Urabá, Antioquia. A leader of Sinaltrainal in that rich banana region in the north west of Colombia. He was assassinated on 8th April 1994.


LUIS ENRIQUE GIRALDO ARANGO


He worked for at Bebidas y Alimentos de Urabá S.A. -COCA COLA., in Carepa for 17 years. A member of Sinaltrainal, Luis was assassinated on 20th April 1994.


LUIS ENRIQUE GÓMEZ GRANADO


Also a worker at Bebidas y Alimentos de Urabá S.A. -COCA COLA- in Carepa. A regional leader of the union. He was assassinated in front of his wife and children at the door of his house in Carepa on 23rd April 1995.


ISIDRO SEGUNDO GIL GIL


Another worker at Bebidas y Alimentos de Urabá S.A. -COCA COLA in Carepa. The last post he fulfilled for Sinaltrainal was the union’s Secretary General and a member of the negotiating team that had presented demands to the employer on 30th November 1996, but the employer refused to negotiate. He was assassinated at his work post inside the Carepa plant on 6th December 1996. His brother Martín Emilio Gil Gil was an adviser to Sinaltrainal in these negotiations. Martín had had to renounce his job at the same employer due to continuous death threats. On 18th November 2000, ALCIRA DEL CARMEN HERRERA PEREZ, the wife of Isidro Segundo, was pulled out of her home in Apartadó – Urabá, Antioquia and assassinated a few yards away.


JOSÉ LIBARDO HERRERA OSORIO


At about 5.00pm on 26th December 1996 this gentleman aged 65 years old and a worker for Coca Cola in Carepa, was taken by force from the plant by heavily armed men, presumed to be paramilitaries, and assassinated near to the cemetery at Chigorodó. Señor Herrera had been working as Head of Technical Maintenance.


GUILLERMO GÓMEZ MAIGUAL


Worker with Embotelladora Nariñense “Embonar” Ltda. -COCA COLA- [Nariño Bottlers Ltd.] where he was a Sinaltrainal leader. He committed suicide by poisoning on 20th April 1998 inside the bottling plant, due to the economic difficulties of the workers and their families. This situation was a result of the cancellation of the franchise contract by Coca Cola with Embonar Ltda on 1st June 1996 Coca Cola, which occasioned closing the plant and sacking 150 workers, liquidating the Collective Agreement and the union organisation in Pasto. A note was found in Guillermo’s clothes, saying that he had made his decision due to “the total crisis” that he found himself in. The workers stayed in the plant for more than 2 years, fighting for the payment of their labour credits. When the workers evacuated the plant it was bought for a derisory sum by Panamco Colombia S.A. -Coca Cola- and reopened with temporay workers with lower wages, without a trade union and without a collective agreement.


ADOLFO DE JESÚS MÚNERA LÓPEZ


Ex-worker at the Coca Cola plant in Barranquilla, Atlántico department. He was assassinated at 7 p.m. on 31st August 2002 at the door of his mother’s home in en the “el Bosque” [the Woods] district of the city. Coca Cola had sacked him on 6th April 1997 after his home had been raided by state forces as a result of him being marked out by the employer. In this same year svereal Sinaltrainal leaders were imprisoned in Bucaramanga, having been branded by Coca Cola as reposnible for terrorism and rebellion. The comrades had been placed at liberty when this assassination occurred.


ÓSCAR DARÍO SOTO POLO


A worker with Embotelladoras Román S.A. -COCA COLA {Román Bottlers] at the Montería plant in  Córdoba departament. He was a leader of Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de las Bebidas en Colombia [Colombian National Union of Drinks Industry Workers] “Sinaltrainbec” and a member of the delegation presenting the workers demands to the employer on behalf of his union and Sinaltrainal. He was assassinated on 21st June 2001 in Montería, when we were negotiating these demands.


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 said:

” We are very encourage by the international response to our call to boycott Coca Cola products. The launch of the boycott will be world-wide.”

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 coming Saturday.

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.  

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