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Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Update

UK NUS Vote, Coke PR Scams, Campus Activism & Shareholders' Meeting

"VOTE IN FAVOUR OF LIFE"

March 22, 2006 Newsletter

Contents of Newsletter

  1. The Coca–Cola Vote — NUS Faces a Decisive Moment in History: Can Be Turning Point in Resolving Worldwide Injustices
  2. Coke's Abuses Further Exposed in War on Wants "Coca-Cola: The Alternative Report," Released on March 20
  3. Coca-Cola Involvement & Influence at World Water Forum Derided
  4. Coca-Cola Policymakers in Turmoil
  5. Campus Roundup
  6. Coca-Cola's Annual Meeting in Wilmington, Delaware on April 19
    1. Seeking stock proxies from concerned stockholders
    2. William C. Thompson,Jr., Comptroller of the City of New York, "Proposal of the New York City Pension Funds for an Independent Investigation of Allegations Made Against Coca-Cola Bottling Plants in Colombia, Released January 26, 2006
    3. Shareowner Proposal Regarding Environmental Impacts of Operations in India filed by William C. Wardlaw, III
  7. Labor Roundup
    1. SEIU Local 32BJ
    2. Teamsters
    3. FRANCE: CCE workers hold pan-Euro protest
  8. News from SINALTRAINAL
    1. A fraternal greeting to all the students of the UK and of the World from Edgar Páez
    2. William Mendoza; vice president of the Coca-Cola workers union in Barrancabermeja in Danger! with Update from Scott Nicholson, Montana Human Rights Network
    3. Death threats against SINALTRAINAL leader in Bogotá
  9. United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)
    1. The 7th National Student Labor Week of Action, March 31 to April 4
    2. Fellowship of Reconciliation, Interview with USAS's Camilo Romero
    3. Summer Opportunities
  10. Killer Cola Action: From the Colombia Solidarity Campaign
  11. Do you need a customized Campaign leaflet?
  12. Campaign's 'Campus Activism' Section
  13. Take Actions Against Coke!
  14. Please send photos, reports of events, etc. for the Campaign website

1. The Coca–Cola Vote — NUS Faces a Decisive Moment in History: Can Be Turning Point in Resolving Worldwide Injustices

This is a unique moment in history where students can play a decisive role in holding Coke accountable for horrible labor, human rights and environmental injustices worldwide. Coke's behavior is totally contrary to the mission of the National Union of Students (NUS), which represents hundreds of student unions covering more than 200 college campuses and 5 million students throughout the UK, and to the mission of its buying consortium, NUSSL.

The Coca-Cola Company's behavior violates almost every principle stated in NUSSL's "Sound sourcing guide for suppliers of NUS Services." NUS Services' statement of principles states: "NUS Services is committed to purchasing goods and services that are produced and delivered under conditions that do not involve the abuse or exploitation of any persons and have the least negative impact on the environment."

We can't overemphasize the importance of this opportunity that the NUS has to take action that can lead to hope for people in dire need, not only in Colombia and India, but throughout the world. NUS's contracts with Coca-Cola for all these campuses will expire in July. A vote on whether to renew these contracts is expected to take place at the NUS conference March 28 to 30.

Unfortunately, the Coca-Cola Co., with the IUF, has come up with another public relations scam to try to undermine the student movement that is holding the Company accountable by kicking Coke off campuses. An IUF press release on March 2, 2006 was headlined, "IUF and Coca-Cola agreement to request United Nations' ILO to conduct independent investigation of Coca-Cola labour practices in Colombia." The press release omitted an important piece of information — Coca-Cola's Director of Global Labor Relations Ed Potter has been the U.S. employer representative to the ILO for at least 15 years and holds that and other positions within the ILO today.

Ed Potter was hired by The Coca-Cola Co. last spring to deal with the mounting pressures resulting from the worldwide campaign against Coke. The Coca-Cola Co. does not respond to anything unless it faces the actual loss of business and damage to its image or brand name. So-called "constructive engagement" only motivates Coke to continue to delay and not respond in a responsible manner and thus maintain the status quo.

It's strange that the IUF opposes SINALTRAINAL's call for a worldwide boycott of Coke. The IUF website claims the IUF represents 12 million workers worldwide. However, many of their largest affiliates are fully supportive of the campaign against Killer Coke and student actions that have led to more than two dozen colleges/universities kicking Coke off their campus. These include the Service Employees International Union, which represents 1.8 million workers; UNITE-HERE, which represents 850 thousand workers, and the United Steelworkers, which represents 1.2 million workers.

There are many other labor unions not affiliated with the IUF that fully support efforts on campuses to remove and ban the sale of Coke products. These include unions such as UNISON, UK's largest union; the American Postal Workers Union; the Communications Workers of America; United Mine Workers of America; the International Longshore and Warehouse Union; the largest teachers' unions in the United States, including the 525,000 New York State United Teachers; Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, the largest public service union in Northern Ireland; the Irish National Teachers Organisation, and Teachers Union of Ireland.

In addition, the 1.4 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the world's largest Coca-Cola union, which represents more than 18,000 Coca-Cola workers, supports the students' campaign to pressure Coke. Europe's Food Production Daily reported on Feb. 9, 2005: "Coca-Cola is now facing a labour relations problem in the US, after the Teamsters Union joined protesters calling for boycotts against the company over alleged human rights violations in Colombia."

" 'Our union brothers and sisters at Coca-Cola bottling facilities in Colombia have been threatened, kidnapped, tortured and murdered,' said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President, in an IBT press release. 'It's long past time for Coca-Cola to negotiate a global human rights agreement that will protect the rights and safety of workers who produce, package and distribute Coca-Cola products.'

"Conference Director and Teamster International Vice President, Jack Cipriani, said Coca-Cola's labor abuses in the United States includes harassment, intimidation, discrimination and retaliation at CCE facilities…"

CCE (Coca-Cola Enterprises) is Coca-Cola's largest bottling company which is also the bottler servicing the UK. The Coca-Cola Co. owns about 38% of the stock in CCE and 40% of Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest Coke bottler in Colombia which is a defendant in SINALTRAINAL's human rights abuse lawsuit against Coke.

Gary P. Fayard, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, The Coca-Cola Co., and Irial Finan, Executive Vice President and President of Bottling Investments of The Coca-Cola Co., serve on the boards of directors of both CCE and Coca-Cola FEMSA. When NUS kicks Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Enterprises off the campuses, it also kicks top policymakers of Colombia's largest bottler, Coca-Cola FEMSA, off the campuses.

We hope the National Union of Student does the right thing and strikes a blow for human rights and the environment that will be heard around the globe and will excite and encourage other student groups to join this worldwide movement for justice.


Another Coca-Cola Public Relations Scam!
IUF and Coca-Cola Request United Nations' ILO Investigation

Contents:

  • "Why does the IUF attack SINALTRAINAL?" — Statement by Ray Rogers, Director of Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.
    Read Statement
  • "Another 'Classic Coke' Move to Deny and Delay Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Colombia" — March 6, 2006 Statement by Terry Collingsworth, Executive Director of the International Labor Rights Fund and Dan Kovalik, Associate General Counsel, United Steelworkers Union in response to "IUF and Coca-Cola agreement to request United Nations' ILO to conduct independent investigation of Coca-Cola labour practices in Colombia."
    Read Statement
  • "Coke's Proposed ILO Study in Colombia Ignores Record of Worker Abuse Worldwide: Teamsters Call for Negotiated Global Agreement" — March 10, 2006 Press Release from the 1.4 million-member International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the world's largest Coca-Cola union which represents more than 18,000 Coca-Cola workers.
    Read Press Release
  • Teamsters Demand Action From Coca-Cola on Global Rights Standards: Statements by IBT support students and criticize Coke.
    Read Press Release

2.Coke's Abuses Further Exposed in War on Wants "Coca-Cola: The Alternative Report," Released on March 20
War on Want, a highly-respected London-based organization, campaigns "for workers' rights and against the root causes of global poverty, inequality and injustice." This report further exposes Coke's labor, human rights and environmental abuses worldwide.


War on Want, Press Release and Report, "Coca-Cola under fire as World Cup comes to London, Released March 20, 2006
Read Report, "Coca-Cola: The Alternative Report"
Read Press Release

3. Coca-Cola Involvement & Influence at World Water Forum Derided
Free Speech Radio News reports on the fourth World Water Forum in Mexico City, of which one of the top sponsors is The Coca-Cola Co. In the news report, representatives of several non-governmental organizations call into question Coca-Cola's sponsorship of the forum.

Amit Srivastava of India Resource Center commented: "The Coca-Cola Company has no place at a place like the World Water Forum because its relationship with water is extremely unsustainable and the supposed goal of the forum is to find sustainable uses of water…Coca-Cola is using the forum…as a public relations exercise…"

Joe Zacune of War on Want commented: "Coca-Cola is leading the charge amongst corporations who are not only interested in bottling water and distributing it. There's a new phenomenon of corporations going around the world to developing countries and buying up land in order to control water resources. Aquifers are subterranean chambers that hold water that has filtered down over hundreds of years and as such, represent the heritage of entire communities. Once Coca-Cola controls these resources, it bores deep into them and extracts the water to produce its beverages, and this has a devastating effect on local farmers.

Javier Correa, President of SINALTRAINAL, the National Food Service Workers Union in Colombia, describes the murders of members of his union, highlighting their occurrence during times of union negotiations. "Two of them were assassinated during negotiations of our collective contract, and one of them was assassinated while we were in the middle of a strike. They have imprisoned 14 of us; I have had to live with imprisonment on two occasions on charges brought by Coca-Cola officials; also 48 'compañeros' including myself have been victims of death threats; they've tried to kidnap our children and have tortured us; they've displaced 'compañeros' and burned union halls."
Listen to show — forward to 19:32

4. Coca-Cola Policymakers in Turmoil
In the past two years, numerous top executives and board members have left The Coca-Cola Co. Most recently, Warren Buffett and J. Pedro Reinhard announced that they're leaving Coke's board in April. Buffett has been on the board since 1989 and Reinhard, Dow Chemical's Senior Advisor, board member and former Chief Financial Officer, has been a board member since 2003. Reinhard has been a target of Campaign protests in Canada.

Maria Lagomasino is also leaving the board and she is now the Chief Executive Officer of Asset Management Advisors LLC, an affiliate of SunTrust Banks, the Bank of Killer Coke. The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported on Nov. 30, 2005, that "Asset Management Advisors…asked that she no longer serve as a Coke board member when her term ends at the company's annual shareholders' meeting on April 19." Lagomasino has been a member of Coke's board since 2003. With Lagomasino going to SunTrust, The Coca-Cola Co. and its two largest bottlers, Coca-Cola Enterprises and Coca-Cola FEMSA, share at least seven present or former top policymakers with SunTrust Banks. SunTrust Banks is also the second largest shareholder in Coca-Cola, second only to Warren Buffett, and provides or helps with underwriting hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to Coca-Cola.

In addition, Home Depot's CEO Robert Nardelli, appointed to Coke's board in 2002, left the board in 2005. In April 2004, The Washington Post reported that the Campaign was a major factor in Coke's former General Counsel, Secretary and Executive Vice President Deval Patrick's resignation. It's also well-known that the Campaign led to the early resignation of Coke's former CEO Douglas Daft in June, 2004. Daft is now on the board of Wal-Mart.

What kind of pressure can lead to this upheaval? An article on March 16 by Thomas Kostigen in MarketWatch stated: "…Coke has been battling an antitrust investigation in Europe, labor unrest in Colombia and environmental charges in India. (All of which may have led to its losing the dominant position to Pepsi for the first time in 100 years.)"

In a not-so-humorous note (to Coca-Cola), it was reported on Monday, March 20 in Just-Drinks.com:

"Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide has switched from Coca-Cola to Pepsi — 18 months after Coke's former president and COO joined the hotel company."

Heyer left Coca-Cola and the board of Coca-Cola FEMSA shortly after the Forward, a major Jewish weekly newspaper, reported in a front page story:

"Attendees at a United Jewish Appeal-Federation of New York dinner next week will have to pass through a picket line on their way inside. The black-tie dinner, set to honor the president and chief operating officer of the Coca-Cola Company, Steven Heyer, has become the subject of a protest by the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, a group claiming that Coca-Cola and its bottlers have participated in 'gross violations of labor rights and human rights in Colombia.' "

5. Campus Roundup

A. Coke Ads in College Newspapers
Coca-Cola has been running full-page ads in college and university newspapers across the United States filled with lies and misleading information.

One full-page ad in the University of Connecticut's The Daily Campus, signed by Coke's Global Labor Relations Director Ed Potter is titled: "Open Letter Regarding The Coca-Cola Company's Commitment to Labor Rights (Feb. 28, 2006)" and another signed by Coke's Vice President of Environmental & Water Resouces Jeff Seabright titled: "Open Letter Regarding The Coca-Cola Company's Commitment to Water Stewardship. (March 15, 2006)."

In future newsletters, we will respond to these dishonest ads

B. Convent of the Sacred Heart High School, San Francisco
the broadview, Boycotting Coke: Coke accused of permitting worker abuse in factories, By Michelle Gantos
Read Page 1 of Article
Read broadview

C. Eastern Michigan University
Echo Online, "Issues of Concern: Coca-Cola's business practices questionable," By Andrew Stefan, March 17, 2006
Read Article

Echo Online, "U-M bans Coca-Cola, EMU should follow suit," By Andrew Stefan, March 10, 2006
Read Article Columnist Andrew Stefan contacted us to let us know that the date in the first sentence of his column was incorrect.

D. Edinburgh University
Student Newspaper, "Coke and Fairtrade win the day at AGM - but no to bibles," February 13, 2006
Read Article
"While the motion passed by 240 votes to 144, this was still insufficient to form the vote quorum. Despite these difficulties, motion proposer Oliver Munion insisted that 200 students voted for the motion at the last two meetings signified that the majority of the university's students would favour a ban."

E. Harvard University
The Harvard Crimson, "Activists SLAM Coke, Security Firm: Organizer suggests that Harvard switch to Polar Beverages or Mecca-Cola," By Benjamin L. Weintraub, March 9, 2006
Read Article

The Harvard Crimson, "Student Activists Demand University Cut Coca-Cola Ties To Stop 'Supporting Human Rights Abuses'," By Benjamin L. Weintraub, February 28, 2006
Read Article

The Harvard Crimson, "Student Labor Activists Plan To Target Coke Ties: SLAM leaders intend to attack Harvard's extensive contracts with soft-drink maker," By Benjamin L. Weintraub, February 14, 2006
Read Article

F. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
The Tech (MIT), "Killer Coke," By Nakul Vyas, February 28, 2006
Read Article

G. Michigan State University
The State News, "Protesting pop: Students, union worker rally outside Administration Building to remove Coke from campus," By Kathleen Polesnak, February 22, 2006
Read Article

The State News, "Web Extra: Group hosts rally, speaker in campaign against Coke," By Fredricka Paul, February 21, 2006
Read Article

The State News, "Opinion: Wait to banish Coke: MSU is taking steps to determine if Coca-Cola uses illegal business practices; should conduct thorough investigation," Feburary 21, 2006
Read Opinion

The State News, "Opinion: SEJ members offer MSU alternatives to killer Coca-Cola; join fight," By Erik Green, February 20, 2006
Read Opinion

H. Queen's University
The Journal (Queen's University), "QUAKC hosts anti-Coke speakers," By Joanna Nicholson, February 18, 2006
Read Article

I. St. Joseph's University
The Hawk, "Editor's Column: Kick the Coke habit," By Samuel Narisi '07, March 17, 2006
Read Article
Read Original Article by Subscription

J. Swarthmore College
The Phoenix (Swarthmore College), "Keep on organizing," BY Harris Kornstein, February 23, 2006
Read Article

The Phoenix, "Letter to the Editor: A step in the right direction," BY Stephen Graf, February 23, 2006
Read Letter
"Swarthmore's very own Kick Coke Campaign won an impressive victory - after much discussion and debate, the President's staff decided it was time to stop selling bottled Coke products at Essie Mae's and at the Kohlberg and Science Center coffee bars."

K. University of California
Santa Cruz IMC, "UC SweatFree Coalition stages sit-in at the Office of the President," By Sara Sunday, March 12, 2006
Read Article
On Friday, March 10, 17 students from 5 UC campuses (San Diego, Riverside, Santa Cruz, Berkeley, and Davis) participated in a mini-sit-in at the University of California Office of the President (UCOP). Lasting about an hour, we staged the sit-in to protest the lack of action taken by President Dynes to enforce our university's Code of Conduct for Trademark Licensees and cut contracts with Coca-Cola…Our message to President Dynes was clear: this was a preview of greater events to come if the DSP is not adopted soon.

L. UCLA
Daily Bruin (UCLA), "Coalition campaigns against Coca-Cola," By Mussarat Bata, February 28, 2006
Read Article

Daily Bruin (UCLA), "Coke's practices have no place on campus: UCLA should no longer support company's alleged human rights, environmental violations, By Aliya Hussaini, February 28, 2006
Read Article

M. University of Connecticut
Uconn Free Press, Numerous articles on the Killer Coke Campaign
Read Issue

The Daily Campus (University of Connecticut, "Activists Call For Action From Trustees," By Diego Cupolo, March 2, 2006
Read Article

N. University of Montana
Montana Kaimin Online, "ASUM balks on Coke decision after protest," By Ty Hampton, March 2, 2006
Read Article

O. University of Vermont

University of Vermont created a banner
for Luis Cardona's visit on March 7

6. Coca-Cola's Annual Shareholders' Meeting in Wilmington, Delaware on April 19

A. Seeking stock proxies from concerned stockholders
Stockholders should have received their notice of the annual meeting and proxy card by now from The Coca-Cola Co. If you are not able to attend the annual meeting and would like to help the Campaign, we would like your proxy assigned to us so that others can attend. You can contact us at (718) 852-2808 or info@KillerCoke.org and we will explain how to transfer your proxy. If proxyholders plan to attend the shareholders' meeting and would like to join protest activities, please contact us. This year's annual meeting will be held at the Hotel Du Pont on April 19 beginning at 10:30 am in Wilmington, Delaware.

B. William C. Thompson,Jr., Comptroller of the City of New York, "Proposal of the New York City Pension Funds for an Independent Investigation of Allegations Made Against Coca-Cola Bottling Plants in Colombia, Released January 26, 2006
Read Press Release
Read Resolution
In addition to the pension plans and the NYC Comptrollers office support for this resolution, the Presbyterian Church USA's New Covenant Funds is a co-filer.

C. Shareowner Proposal Regarding Environmental Impacts of Operations in India filed by William C. Wardlaw, III.

WHEREAS, the 2004 Environmental Report published by The Coca Cola Company states, ''Water is essential for life, and water scarcity is fast becoming one of the world's most pressing global challenges. While the amount of water in the world is finite, during the past century, the world's population has tripled and water use has increased six times. A third of the world's population already lives under water-stressed conditions, and it is predicted that this figure will rise to two-thirds by 2025;''

WHEREAS, a Joint Parliamentary Committee appointed by the Indian government found: ''that the water level in many parts of the country is getting depleted alarmingly;''

WHEREAS, there have been numerous public protests of The Coca-Cola Company's operations throughout India, involving thousands of Indian citizens and several non-governmental organizations in several states of the country;

WHEREAS, on October 25, 2005, an article in The Hindu entitled '''Coke Plant Will Not Be Allowed to Function''' referred to the town of Plachimada, India, as ''where the local people have been waging an agitation for the last three years demanding the closure of the company for allegedly exploiting the groundwater, leading to shortage of water for drinking and irrigation purposes;''

WHEREAS, for nearly two years the Plachimada plant has been the subject of rulings unfavorable to the company's ongoing operations by local government and Indian courts-including a rejection of Coca-Cola's license application by the council of village leaders, an order by the Pollution Control Board to stop operations, and an appeal by the Kerala state government to the Indian Supreme Court challenging Coca-Cola's right to draw groundwater. Other Coca-Cola plants, including Mehdiganj, are facing similar pressure.

WHEREAS, shareholders believe there is a need to study and report on the impact on our company's value from decisions to do business in sensitive areas of water scarcity;

RESOLVED, shareholders request that the independent directors of the Board of The Coca-Cola Company prepare a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on the potential environmental and public health damage of each of its plants, affiliates and proposed ventures extracting water from areas of water scarcity in India. The report should consider the implications of a policy of refraining from extracting ground and surface water in India and should be available to investors by the 2007 annual meeting.

7. Labor Roundup

A. SEIU Local 32BJ
SEIU's huge Local 32BJ, with 70,000 members, voted on February 6 in favor of a comprehensive resolution that would remove Coke machines from all offices in the states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The vote also approved worker trainings on the socio-political context of Colombia and what it represents to the importance of unions in the global economy.

B. Teamsters
"Coke's Proposed ILO Study in Colombia Ignores Record of Worker Abuse Worldwide," Teamsters Press Release, March 10, 2006

Coke's Proposed ILO Study in Colombia Ignores Record of Worker Abuse Worldwide: Teamsters Call for Negotiated Global Agreement

WASHINGTON, March 10 /PRNewswire/ — The International Brotherhood of Teamsters today charged that the proposed International Labour Organization (ILO) investigation and evaluation of labor relations and human rights practices at Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) bottling facilities in Colombia will not address egregious violations of workers rights throughout Coca-Cola's worldwide network.

"This is Classic Coke corporate damage control that fails to confront and resolve these gross human rights violations," said Jack Cipriani, International Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the world's largest Coca-Cola union. "This piecemeal approach doesn't protect the rights and safety of workers throughout the vast Coca-Cola system."

An escalating campaign by students against Coca-Cola for its human rights violations forced colleges such as Rutgers, University of Michigan, and Hofstra to cancel lucrative contracts with Coca-Cola. The campaign, sparked by reports of murder, kidnapping and torture from Coca-Cola workers in Colombia, has inspired other workers to come forward with their experiences of workers' rights abuses in countries such as Guatemala, Turkey and the United States.

"It's time that Coke stop studying their problems and start negotiating a global human rights agreement that will protect the rights and safety of all workers who produce, package, and distribute Coca-Cola products," said James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the U.S. and Canada including more than 18,000 Coca-Cola workers.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters

C. FRANCE: CCE workers hold pan-Euro protest
Feb. 7, 2006
Source: just-drinks.com editorial team

Coca-Cola workers from around Europe yesterday (6 Feb) protest outside the company's French offices to demonstrate against the group's planned job cuts in the UK and on the continent.

Up to 400 Coke employees from the UK, Belgium and Luxembourg joined their French counterparts in protest at the company's offices south of Paris, according to Agence France Presse.

Unions have said that up to 600 jobs could be axed as Coca-Cola Enterprises looks to restructure its bottling operations.

Earlier this month, CCE said it was ready to cut around 170 jobs from its operations in the UK. Last November, CCE's Belgium unit announced a restructuring of its operations with the loss of 50 posts.

8. News from SINALTRAINAL

A. A fraternal greeting to all the students of the UK and of the World from Edgar Páez. (Translation)

Bogotá, 16 March 2006

We are extremely glad to know that we have your solidarity and accompaniment, that we can build a better world and that you, young people and students, from your university campuses, classrooms and trenches of knowledge, offer your support in order that one day we will be free.

Every day the crimes against humanity, human rights violations and attacks on our people are increasing, all to the benefit of the transnational corporations and to the detriment of the environment, of the well-being of the peoples and of the poor of the world.

In Colombia, we have been consistently making reports in denouncement of these arbitrary acts of violence, particularly those committed by the transnationals in the agriculture and food sector - Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Chiquita Brands among others - and following this we have documented evidence of their participation in the war which the United States, European and Asian countries have unleashed against the people: Plan Colombia, the Andean Regional Initiative, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the US, are all part of this offensive.

In 2002, we demonstrated and condemned before the world the criminal policies of Coca-Cola by means of a People's Public Hearing. In January 2003 we presented a proposal of integral reparation to the transnational in Atlanta and on 22 July of the same year, we launched the global campaign "Because I love life - I don't drink Coca-Cola" as a response to the company's failure to mitigate the pain of the victims and change its behaviour in Colombia. We have persisted in pursuing a path of dialogue in order to find a satisfactory solution, but we have only received more violence from Coca-Cola, more repression and increased violations of human rights. "Constructive engagement" has never been one of Coca-Cola's tools for solving problems: on the contrary, with their violence all they have done is deepen the violation of workers rights.

All these crimes remain in complete impunity. We have carried out a people's public hearing, brought lawsuits before the Federal Courts of the United States and are currently preparing the agriculture and food hearing of the Permanent Tribunal of Peoples' Colombia session, a alternative judicial mechanism, through which we will once again tell the world about the policy of this transnational and how it has impacted on the life of the Colombian people. There we will judge Coca-Cola for their ethical and moral behaviour and for the crimes committed.

In order that this series of human rights violations can be committed, the Colombian state has facilitated the creation, strengthening and mobilization of paramilitary groups by means of the laws of the Republic. These groups have, through terror, contributed to the exploitation of natural resources by the transnationals, Coca-Cola among them. The state keeps these crimes in impunity and in this way feeds new crimes to the benefit of these corporations.

Coca-Cola has sponsored paramilitary groups through economic means (providing fizzy drinks, huts, and transport for the mobilisations and blocks ordered by the paramilitaries); they have stigmatized the workers, bringing them before the authorities with false accusations, calling union leaders terrorists and rebels, and through their silence they have been an accomplice in the crimes. Because of this, it is vitally important to hold the transnational, as well as the state, responsible for complicity in and sponsorship of paramilitary violence.

For this reason and because of the legitimacy of our struggle, the international boycott has gone from strength to strength. It is impossible to conceal Coca-Cola's responsibility for the assassinations of 8 leaders of Sinaltrainal, the displacement of tens of workers, the sacking of around 5000 workers in twelve years, the arbitrary detention and misuse of legal mechanisms against workers, the pollution of the environment, the destruction of local food cultures and the precarious state of employment in which workers find themselves, the vast majority of whom work for this company for a salary of less than $130 per month. Several companeros have had to leave the country in order to stay alive.

The legitimacy and the concrete reality have been verified by a significant number of students from the campaign UK Students Against Coke who have visited Colombia, and by the delegation of university teachers and students who visited us in September 2005.

Despite this hard struggle, there are more and more men and women who, from different parts of the world, have united in this great initiative for life. Workers, students, peasants, indigenous people, popular sectors and consumers have raised their voices in protest and their arms in solidarity, denouncing Coca-Cola and urging them to make a satisfactory response to the proposal presented by Sinaltrainal. In Colombia, many organisations have accompanied us, among them the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Colombia (CUT), who were the official spokespersons in the press conference which launched the boycott. Recently, a public statement from their acting President reaffirmed their commitment and their backing of this just struggle of Coca-Cola workers in Colombia:

"The CUT supports the University of Michigan, in the United States, in discontinuing the sale of Coca-Cola within their campus, as a result of accusations of violating human rights and trade union rights in Colombia.

"Coca-Cola has been an persistent violator of trade unionists rights and for this reason various universities in the United States have taken measures to protest against their conduct", said Fabio Arias, vice-president of the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, (CUT), Colombia's largest trade union organisation.

The boycott continues and the struggle against the transnational is being strengthened. Through not consuming their products, confronting them wherever they are, denouncing their policies and joining forces to strengthen our struggle, we will move towards a solution to the problem and towards recuperating our food sovereignty.

In a few days, the students of the UK will decide if Coca Cola will remain present in their colleges and universities, in their lives. For us in Colombia, this decision is massive, and we urge you to vote against the renewal of Coca-Cola's contracts, that you vote against the violence of the transnational, that you VOTE IN FAVOUR OF LIFE. Nine women and twenty-three boys and girls, widows and orphans who have lost their partners and fathers, twenty seven workers who have been imprisoned for months, hundreds who have been sacked from their jobs and many who have been displaced by the violence of the transnational will continue living and their voices will continue being heard if you vote against Coca-Cola.

Thank you companeros and companeros for your decision to expel Coca-Cola from your university campuses. Thank you for taking the decision not to consume their products in order to look after their health and their lives.

A strong embrace from Colombia, for which we struggle and die.

Edgar Páez M.
Direccion Nacional
SINALTRAINAL.

B. William Mendoza; vice president of the Coca-Cola workers union in Barrancabermeja in Danger!, from Scott Nicholson, Montana Human Rights Network
Read Communique

Update: We just received this e-mail from Scott Nicholson
Hola companeros,

I received an e-mail from William on Monday. He wrote that one of his bodyguards was going to start back to work with him on Tuesday. The DAS (security police) told William that it could take two months for them to hire a second bodyguard that William knows and trusts.

Take care.
Scott

C. Death threats against SINALTRAINAL leader in Bogotá (Translation)

It is with great worry that we have to inform you of the threats against PLUTARCO VARGAS ROLDAN, leader of SINALTRAINAL Bogotá Branch, and a worker at the Coca-Cola bottling factory. It is with great worry that we have to inform you of the threats against PLUTARCO VARGAS ROLDAN, leader of SINALTRAINAL Bogotá Branch, and a worker at the Coca-Cola bottling factory in that town. On Saturday 4 February, Plutarco received a message threatening him and his family pushed under the door of his house. It said the following:

"You've really got a problem now, don't give us an excuse or one day you'll arrive home and there won't be anyone there. Watch yourself and your family, we really want to get you. Don't try and be clever, because we're watching you. You've been warned."

This threat comes directly after the company has been obliging workers in Bogota to sign documents stating that Coca-Cola does not violate human rights. The company has also released various messages stating that several workers are responsible for calumny against the company.

It also follows actions on 31 January 2006, when there was a protest outside the Corferias [Exhibition Centre in Bogotá] where Coca-Cola was sponsoring the World Cup exhibition. Various workers who were protesting against the violence that we have suffered were verbally abused and photographed by people wearing Coca-Cola uniforms and identity tags. These people threatened to call the secret police and to find out all their names and get them sacked.

For these reasons we hold the Coca-Cola Company responsible for the safety of the workers and their families, seeing that the company's disinformation campaign is also responsible for such aggression.

LUIS JAVIER CORREA SUAREZ
President, SINALTRAINAL

Please send messages of protest to:
President Alvaro Uribe Velez: auribe@presidencia.gov.co
Vice President Francisco Santos: fsantos@presidencia.gov.co
Colombian Embassy in the UK: mail@colombianembassy.co.uk

9. United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS)

A. The 7th National Student Labor Week of Action, March 31 to April 4
As most of you know, the National Student Labor Week of Action takes place March 31st-April 4th. March 31st is the birthday of Cesar Chevez and April 4th is the anniversary of the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In order to honor the lives of these two great men, students across the country hold worker solidarity actions and educational events on their high school, college, and university campuses.

This week of action not only provides a great opportunity to highlight the work of student-labor activists, but it is a great opportunity to gain media attention and strengthen current campaigns.

But, in order for that to happen, we need to know who is planning actions. So, please email, allie@usasnet.org and let me know you're planning an action and what you are going to do. We know it seems like a long way away, but we've got to get ready NOW and start trying publicize! If you're worried about your administration finding out what you're planning, don't worry, we'll keep it confidential.

Check out further information at www.studentlabor.org

B. Fellowship of Reconciliation, Interview with USAS's Camilo Romero
Read Interview

C. Summer Opportunities

Dear USAS Allies,

The first week of April, USAS will be sending out a "Summer Opportunities" e-mail to our members. Students often ask us where they can work for the summer and continue their struggle for social and economic justice. We know that a lot of our allied organizations have summer job and internship opportunities, and we think that our students would be a great asset to you for the summer.

If your organization will be hiring for the summer, please send me a short e-mail blurb outlining the position(s) and how our students can apply.

Please e-mail me (allie@usasnet.org) by April 1st.

Thank you very much.

In Solidarity,
Allie Robbins
National Organizer

10. Killer Cola Action: From the Colombia Solidarity Campaign
KILLER COLA - STOP FOUL PLAY IN COLOMBIA!
PICKET OF FIFA WORLD CUP TROPHY TOUR BY COCA COLA

3pm Thursday 23 March Old Billingsgate Market,
16 Lower Thames Street, London, EC3R 6DX (nearest tube Tower Hill)

11. Do you need a customized Campaign leaflet?
In mid-September, the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke sent out a bulletin that listed links to customized leaflets for numerous colleges. We invited supporters to contact us to "customize a leaflet for your campus, union or group." The response was terrific! We immediately began getting emails asking us to produce customized leaflets for numerous colleges, universities, high schools and middle schools. We put them up as soon as we could. We have leaflets for Australia, Canada, Colombia (in Spanish), India, Ireland, the UK and the US.

If you would like a customized leaflet, please contact us at info@KillerCoke.org. Please state the name of your school and the name of the sponsoring group and a local email address, if you want us to put them into the flyer. If you want the flyer for a group, please state the name of the group and an email address. Also, whenever you email the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, please include a phone number, if possible, in case we have a need to talk with you.

12. Campaign's 'Campus Activism' Section
Students have been writing us from schools interested in beginning a Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. We recommend that students begin by checking out the two organizing packets in our "Campus Activism" section:

In addition, there are numerous reports, resolutions and articles in the "Campus Activism" section that can be useful to students.

13. Take Actions Against Coke!

14. Please send photos, reports of events, etc. for the Campaign website
Please send photos, reports of events, and if you are in a school, union or organization that has banned Coke products, please send us the resolution or description of how the decision was made. We would like the Campaign website to be up-to-date and to share the information with all supporters via our newsletter.

In addition, we would still appreciate an e-mail toinfo@KillerCoke.orgwith your name and description of where you live and/or work for our database.


Campaign to Stop KILLER COKE

We are seeking your help to stop a gruesome cycle of murders, kidnappings, and torture of union leaders and organizers involved in daily life-and-death struggles at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia, South America.

"If we lose the fight against Coca-Cola, we will first lose our union, next our jobs and then our lives." SINALTRAINAL VIce President Juan Carlos Galvis


Please donate to the Campaign.


Learn the truth about The Coca-Cola Co.

"We believe the evidence shows that Coca-Cola and its corporate network are rife with immorality, corruption and complicity in murder."
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke/Corporate Campaign, Inc. Director Ray Rogers

Visit www.KillerCoke.org