Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Update January 15, 2010
New Film "The Coca-Cola Case' Opens With Attempts by Coke Lawyers to Censor
January 15, 2010
"The Coca-Cola Case," a film co-produced by filmmakers Germán Gutiérrez and Carmen Garcia and the National Film Board of Canada, is beginning a world-wide tour on January 18 in Montreal, Canada at Concordia University organized by the National Film Board of Canada and Cinema Politica. The filmmakers will be present for a Q&A along with Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.
At a time when The Coca-Cola Co. is a major sponsor of the Winter Olympics in Canada, the company is trying to portray itself as a responsible corporation. However, the truth is very different:
There have been lawsuits in the United States against Coca-Cola and its Latin American bottler, Coca-Cola Femsa, charging that Coca-Cola's bottlers in Colombia "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders."
The suits were filed by two of the principles in the film, Terry Collingsworth of the International Rights Advocates and Dan Kovalik of the United Steelworkers union on behalf of SINALTRAINAL — the major union representing Coca-Cola workers in Colombia — several of its members and the survivors of Isidro Gil and Adolfo de Jesus Munera, two of its murdered officers. A SINALTRAINAL officer summed up the seriousness of the situation, stating: "If we lose the fight against Coca-Cola, we will first lose our union, next our jobs and then our lives."
SYNOPSIS of "The Coca-Cola Case": Colombia is the trade union murder capital of the world. Since 2002, more than 470 workers' leaders have been brutally killed, usually by paramilitaries hired by private companies intent on crushing the unions. Among these unscrupulous corporate brands is the poster boy for American business: Coca-Cola.
Talk to Martin Gil: His brother Isidro was killed at point-blank range while working at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Carepa, because he was part of a union bargaining unit. Like most violent crimes committed against Colombian union leaders, Gil's murder went unpunished.
However, U.S. lawyers Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth, as well as activist Ray Rogers, stepped in and launched an ambitious crusade against the behemoth Coca-Cola. In an incredible three-year saga, filmmakers Germán Gutiérrez and Carmen Garcia follow these heroes in a legal game of cat and mouse. From Bogotá to New York, Guatemala to Atlanta, Washington to Canada, The Coca-Cola Case maintains the suspense of a hard-fought struggle.
The lawyers filed several cases at the U.S. federal court against Cola-Cola for murder, abduction and torture committed in Colombia and Guatemala. Thanks to activist Ray Rogers, they also attacked the brand image of the Atlanta-based giant, with the devastating Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, causing dozens of U.S. colleges and universities to boycott the drink.
Still the company would not give up. After five years of haggling, will the lawyers and the Campaign get justice for the victims? In the end, they reach a settlement of sorts, but what will the victims choose - cash, or power and integrity?
Coke's Bully Tactics to Censor Film Fail
Lawyers for The Coca-Cola Co. have sent a letter to Cinema Politica, stating "By receipt of this letter, you are hereby on notice of these confidentiality requirements, such that any further showing of the Film by or through Cinema Politica would be a knowing disclosure of TCCC's confidential information, as provided in the parties' confidentiality agreement and the Final Order of the Settlement Master. The Coca-Cola Company reserves all of its rights and remedies with regard to any future showing of the Film."
Synopsis of "The Coca-Cola Case":
Click here to watch the synopsis video of "The Coca-Cola Case."
Trailer for "The Coca-Cola Case":
"The Coca-Cola Case," By German Gutiérrez and Carmen Garcia
Tour Dates and Locations
Monday, January 18 @ 7:30 pm,
Wednesday, January 20 @ 7 pm,
Sunday, January 24 @ 7:30 pm,
Mount Allison University
Monday, January 25 @ 7 pm,
Wednesday, January 27 @ X pm,
University of British Columbia
Fraser Valley, BC
Thursday, January 28 @ 6:30 pm,
Open Nite Theatre, Mission
Friday, January 29 @ 7 pm,
Monday, February 1 @ 7 pm,
Alumni Hall, New Academic Building, University of King's College, 6350 Coburg Road
Tuesday, February 2 @ X pm,
Cape Breton, NS
Wednesday, February 3 @ X pm,
Woods Hole, USA
Saturday, February 6 @ X pm,
Woods Hole Firehouse
Monday, February 8 @ X pm,
Wednesday, February 10 @ X pm,
Thursday, February 11 @ X pm,
University of Windsor
Thursday, February 18 @ X pm,
Tuesday, February 23 @ X pm
University of Lethbridge
Toronto, Danforth, ON
Thursday, March 4 @ 8:15 pm,
Peace River, AB
Tuesday, March 9 @ X pm,
Auckland, New Zealand
Tuesday, March 16 @ Z pm,
Tuesday, March 30 @ X pm
Articles on "The Coca-Cola Case" and the attempts by The Coca-Cola Co. to censor the film.
CKDU, Operation Wake Up! "The Bottle Breakers Come: Halifax anticipates arrival of Coca-Cola critical film," By Tiffany Limgenco, January 26, 2010
"[Halifax-based coordinator of Cinema Politica Abad] Khan points to the successful ban of Coca-Cola products on other campuses as a real threat to Coca-Cola. 'As you know, many universities, including Saint Mary's University and University of King's College in Halifax, sign exclusivity contracts to market and sell soft drink products on campus. [T]his film could be used as a catalyst to spur debate, to challenge Coke's Olympic branding image, ultimately leading the schools to divest from Coke if these tactics don't change. Coke has stated that bottling plants act independently but the influence of the company is undeniable; they not only own shares in those plants but the bottlers are beholden to Atlanta. They could stop this if they wanted to.' "
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Film aimed at Coca-Cola draws icy response," By Jeremiah McWilliams, January 27, 2010
"Forget 'happy,' the ubiquitous marketing theme from Coca-Cola Co. When it comes to a new documentary accusing the company of human rights abuses in Colombia, consider the company 'steamed.' Colombia is a nagging public relations problem that refuses to go away, despite Coca-Cola's wins in court."
Flamman [Sweden], "Ett s?tt att f?rs?ka skr?mma oss" ["One way to try to scare us"], January 21, 2010
Read Article in Swedish
Il Giornale.it [Italy], "Film contro la Coca Cola: sfrutta manodopera L'azienda: non e vero" January 21, 2010
Read Article in Italian
A Blogger's View of "The Coca-Cola Case," By Laurence Miall, January, 19, 2010
"At the film's conclusion, you wish that Coke were not such a corporate behemoth that it can so often dodge the activist lawyers and filmmakers who try to hold it to account. It is remarkable the number of times in the film where Coca-Cola's representatives are public no-shows; they always insist on doing everything behind closed doors. When Ray Rogers, anti-Coke activist, presented his case at the University of Chicago, filmmakers captured the whole thing. Many of those in attendance were anti-Ray Rogers and pro-Coke. Nevertheless, when Coke personnel showed up for their part of the debate in the same lecture hall immediately afterward, they demanded that the cameras leave
Kelowna.com, "Killer Coke? Controversial film The Coca-Cola Case draws fire from soft- drink giant," January 21, 2010
" 'We don't think the guys in Atlanta called Colombia and ordered the killing of these guys because they are troublemakers,' Gutierrez said in an interview from Montreal, 'However,' he said, Coke headquarters in Atlanta did not step in to stop them. 'One simple phone call from Atlanta to these Colombia guys would stop these killings,' Gutierrez said. He pointed out that, in 1981, Coke refused to renew the contract with a franchise bottling plant in Guatemala after the murders of union leaders there, and those killings stopped."
CBC News, "Coke discourages screenings of labour documentary," The Canadian Press, January 18, 2010
"It seems that a documentary critical of soft-drink giant Coca-Cola has left a bitter taste with the company."
The Media Co-op: a project of the Dominion News Cooperative, "Sickly Sweet Censorship: Despite legal threats, screenings of film ciritical of Coca-Cola to continue," by Tim Mcsorley, January 15, 2010
"During the shoot they approached one of the main characters to ask us to cut two scenes from the film. We decided not to [because] the information is all publicly available," he explains. "Then we reached an agreement that we could screen the film on two conditions. One is that Coke's lawyers can attend all screenings. [Two], that we inform Coke of all screenings all over the planet. So now, with this letter to Cinema Politics, we are surprised..."
"[Coke is] trying to use this momentum to try and censor the documentary, because they see Cinema Politica for what we are: a student run, grassroots organisation," says Ezra Winton, programing director for the group. "Lawyers think it would be easier to censor the film in the hands of a grassroots organisation, that we would be censored easily. They also see that the film didn't quietly run the festival circuit and then disappear, it's still screening in over two dozen Cinema Politica locals in Canada and overseas."
Read this article in The Dominion.
Art-Threat, "Coca-Cola intimidates student group over film screening," by Michael Lithgow, January 15, 2010
"What may have the soft drink giant so jittery is that the film is set to screen at 17 campuses in an upcoming cross-Canada tour co-sponsored by one of the film's producers, the respected National Film Board of Canada. It is also slated to screen at 24 of Cinema Politica's locals from Halifax to Stockholm, many of which are located at universities. Coca-Cola is well known for the deals made with universities for the exclusive sale of Coke products."
The Concordian, "A bottle of pop has profit margins to kill for Coca-Cola exploitation examined at Cinema Politica movie screening," By Michael Connors, January 12, 2010
" 'The Coca-Cola Case' documents an organized effort to hold Coca-Cola accountable for the murder of numerous union workers in Columbia's Coca-Cola factories. The film exposes the distance that Coke executives try to create from actions taken on behalf of the company. The film depicts executives passing the blame onto contractors making their own choices, and claiming zero accountability."
They make $1 an hour and work 15 hour/day shifts.
They rent the trucks, buy the gas and their uniforms,
and pay out-of-pocket if bottles are broken or stolen.
They fear for their lives, especially if they ask for
better working conditions.
community.hour.ca, "The Cinema politica vs. Coca-Cola classic," January 13, 2010
"Controversy is bubbling up over the screening and distribution of a new documentary about the Coca-Cola company set to premiere in Montreal at Cinema Politica next week."
The Gazette, "Cinema Politica and a case of Coke," By Peggy Curran, January 12, 2010
"Cinema Politica says it's not about to bow to pressure from Coca Cola to can a national tour of a controversial documentary that shows the soft drink giant in an unsavory light. At least not without a decent fight, which began with a frenzied and animated Facebook campaign."
Cinema Politica's web site
"Talk to Martin Gil: His brother Isidro was killed at point-blank range while working at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Carepa, because he was part of a union bargaining unit. Like most violent crimes committed against Colombian union leaders, Gil's murder went unpunished. However, U.S. lawyers Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth, as well as activist Ray Rogers, stepped in and launched an ambitious crusade against the behemoth Coca-Cola."
Hour.ca [Canada], "The Coca-Cola Case: Sickly sweet," By Meg Hewings, January 14, 2010
"The suit and film have generated bad buzz around the Coke brand, and the company has sent letters to try to block Cinema Politica and the NFB from showing the film, citing confidentiality issues..."
"While the doc narrows in on the intricacies of the three-year saga fought by U.S. lawyers Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth, and highlights the activist antics of Ray Rogers (who spearheaded the Killer Coke campaign), the most compelling and telling scenes take place when two Colombian teens who deliver Coke tell their story. They make $1 an hour and work 15 hour/day shifts. They rent the trucks, buy the gas and their uniforms, and pay out-of-pocket if bottles are broken or stolen. They fear for their lives, especially if they ask for better working conditions."
The Link, "Coca-Cola lawyers threaten Cinema Politica: Claims upcoming film screenings violate confidentiality agreements," by Madeline Coleman, January 12, 2010
"Concordia-based film collective Cinema Politica received a threatening letter on Jan. 11 from the lawyers for Coca-Cola stating that the network's planned film tour for documentary The Coca-Cola Case violates a confidentiality agreement. The film follows two American lawyers and union leaders as they attempt to bring a case against the soda pop giant for its alleged complicity in the murders of union leaders at Colombian bottling plants."
The Link, "Corruption Classic: The murder of union leaders at Coca-Cola plants should leave a bad taste in your mouth, say filmmakers," By Madeline Coleman, January 12, 2010
Read Interview with German Gutierrez
"There just might be blood in that bottle of Coke. In their documentary The Coca-Cola Case, filmmakers Carmen Garcia and Germán Gutiérrez show that a corrupt government coupled with dependence on cheap labour and marauding paramilitaries make Colombia a perilous place to be a union leader. Coca-Cola plants are no exception. The film accuses the Coca-Cola Co. of complicity in the brutal and near-routine assassinations of eight union leaders by right-wing paramilitaries at Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plants over the last 16 years."
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
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