Contents of the Newsletter
1. School of the Americas Watch Vigil and Nonviolent Direct Action on November 19-21, 2004. Campaign to Stop Killer Coke will attend and have a table. Look for us. Director Ray Rogers will be at the protest. SOA Watch sent us an e-mail that, in part, said:
"Across the nation thousands of people are preparing to attend the School of the Americas Watch Vigil and Nonviolent Direct Action on November 19-21, 2004. Faced with war in Colombia and poverty deepened by exorbitant military spending throughout the Americas, we will not be silent. Change is coming, and we will make this upcoming year the time when U.S. foreign policy turns away from its oppressive course!
"The SOA Watch Vigil has become a leading opportunity for organizations working on peace and justice in Latin America, as well as other progressive issues, to connect with new activists and each other. The distribution of information and the sale of educational materials have become integral to the overall purpose of the Vigil. For more information, visit the SOA Watch web site at www.SOAW.org"
2. India: The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke has been working in solidarity with the India Resource Center which has a Campaign against Coca-Cola because of Coke's overexploitation of water resources in India.
a. MASSIVE March and Rally to Demand Shut Down of Coca-Cola Plants in India, November 15-24: "Drinking Coke is Like Drinking Farmer's Blood in India." The India Resource Center sent out the following press release:
For Immediate Release November 15, 2004
Contacts: Nandlal Master, Lok Samiti (Hindi only) +91 94153 00520 (Translations can be arranged by contacting Amit Srivastava) Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center — Email: amit@IndiaResource.org Nov 14-16 (US) +1 415 336 7584, Nov 17-21 (UK) +44 7731 865591, Nov 22-25 (India) +91 98103 46161
Varanasi, India (November 15, 2004): A 250 km march between two Coca-Cola bottling facilities in India is underway to bring attention to problems created by the Coca-Cola company in India.
Thousands of people are expected to take part in the march and rally between two Coca-Cola bottling plants — in Ballia and Mehdiganj — both in the state of Uttar Pradesh, from November 15-24, 2004. The march will end will a large rally in Mehdiganj, near the holy city of Varanasi, on November 24.
Marchers are calling for the revocation of Coca-Cola's license to operate because of severe hardships created for communities as a result of water shortages and pollution created by the Coca-Cola company. The march comes after a series of defeats for the Coca-Cola company across India, through orders by the courts and various government agencies.
A pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations in India. Communities living around the bottling facilities are experiencing severe water shortages, and the remaining scarce groundwater, along with the soil, has been polluted by Coca-Cola's practice of dumping its wastewater into the nearby fields. There are also serious irregularities in the manner in which Coca-Cola has acquired the land for its bottling facility, and many farmers are yet to be compensated for the use of their land.
Over 70% of Indians make a living related to agriculture, and water shortages and pollution of the groundwater and soil by Coca-Cola in India has had a disastrous impact on communities, particularly farmers and low-income communities.
"Drinking Coke is like drinking farmer's blood in India," said Nandlal Master of Lok Samiti and the National Alliance of People's Movements, a key organizer of the march and rally. "Coca-Cola is creating thirst in India, and is directly responsible for the loss of livelihood and even hunger for thousands of people across India," continued Master. "Water and land are essential to life, and challenging Coca-Cola is a fight for our survival. We have to shut it down," said Nandlal Master.
Coca-Cola has become the target of numerous communities across India who are demanding that Coca-Cola shut down its bottling facility because of water shortages and pollution. One of the largest Coca-Cola bottling facilities in India, in Plachimada, Kerala, remains shut down because the local village council (panchayat) is refusing to issue it a license to operate. Community leaders from Coca-Cola affected communities across India are also joining the march and rally in Uttar Pradesh.
"Coca-Cola will pay for its crimes in India and internationally," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, a group that works with local groups in India to coordinate the campaign internationally. "We will take this battle to where it hurts Coca-Cola the most- the US and the European Union, its largest markets." The international campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable has also joined forces with the Colombian trade union, Sinaltrainal. Coca-Cola is charged with complicity in the murder, torture and intimidation of trade union organizers at its bottling facilities in Colombia.
For more information, visit IndiaResource.org.
b. Indian Farmers Find Use for Coca-Cola — As Pesticide!!
Farmers in India have finally found a use for Coca-Colaas a pesticide to kill bugs. "I observed that the pests began to die after the soft drink was sprayed on my cotton," said a delighted Gotu Laxmaiah, a farmer from Ramakrishnapuram in Andra Pradesh. It is more cost effective than other brands manufactured by Monsanto and others, and thousands are expected to make the shift to using Coca-Cola to kill insects.
Read the article
c. Arsenic Scare Spreads to Ballia, Site of Coca-Cola Plant
Arsenic has now spread to the groundwater in Ballia, the site of the MASSIVE march against Coca-Cola. What is Coca-Cola doing producing drinks from an arsenic laden groundwater resource, we ask? Making pesticides?
Read the article
d. Andhra Pradesh to Export Farmers to East Africa
And finally, as the Indian government gives increasing concessions to companies such as Coca-Cola that are destroying the food security of the land, it has come up with a novel idea to deal with the increasing farmer suicides taking place in India. Export the farmers to Kenya!
Read the article
e. COCA-COLA FACT SHEET
Coca-Cola is guilty of destroying Lives, Livelihoods and Communities in India. People's movements all across in India have now mobilized to hold Coca-Cola accountable. And the movement is growing everyday. Follow and support the struggles by visiting www.indiaresource.org/
Read the brochure
Letter from Chris Stroud of the University of Western Ontario, Canada:
"Coca-Cola sets the record straight."
To the Editor:
Last week Ms. Kerr at the Coca-Cola Company responded to "some unsettling accusations". I must agree that the accusations against the Coca-Cola Company are, indeed, unsettling.
Coke, Fortune 500 ranked #91 (beating out #114 McDonald's Corp), with revenue of more than $21 billion is very effective in pushing into new markets, generating shareholder wealth and generally convincing consumers and governments to "Enjoy" Coke. Ms. Kerr seems to imply that, in spite of Coke's behemoth size and strength, Coke is ineffective, even powerless in the Colombian environment.
Ms. Kerr, does the Coca-Cola Company truly feel weak and powerless in Colombia?
It is understandable that a company that regularly rewards its top executives a $1.5 million salary and $4 million in bonuses may not see the benefit in addressing the security of union workers that earn less than $500 a month in Colombia.
Ms. Kerr mentioned that Coke, in Colombia, enjoys the fact that 31% of its bottler's workers choose freely to participate in unions, which is above the 4% national average. She failed to mention the number of union leaders and family members killed or the number of Coke union leaders living in exile outside Colombia.
The Coca-Cola Company, because of its size and power, is in the unique position to be a leader in Colombia and not a follower.
I would like to challenge the Coca-Cola Company "shared values" and "commitment" to protect its Colombian union leaders and workers. I would like to challenge the Coca-Cola Company to publicly denounce the harassment of and killing of union members and leaders within Coke's bottler unions and to publicly support and sanction an independent human rights investigation.
Since "The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners are committed to providing Colombian workers, particularly union leaders, as much protection as possible" then an independent human rights investigation would be consistent with providing "as much protection as possible."
Social Justice and Peace Studies III
University of Western Ontario
Letter from John O'Regan of the University of Guelph, Canada:
What do a company that exceeds four billion dollars in annual profits, the second most widely understood word in the world, and a beverage that is often cheaper and more readily available than potable drinking water have in common? The name Coca Cola.
Since its creation in 1886, Coca Cola has become one of the most powerful and recognizable corporations in world history. Although the company claims to benefit and refresh everyone it touches, Coca Cola's human rights records tell a much different story. Since 1989, eight union leaders at the company's bottling plants in Colombia have been murdered. In the last fifteen years, over one hundred additional employees have been threatened, kidnapped, or tortured as a result of their attempts to unionize.
Coca Cola certainly has the economic power to drastically improve the situation in Colombia, but "tries to avoid responsibility," explains Ray Rogers, the director of an international organization known as the Campaign Against Killer Coke. Since launching the website www.killercoke.org, Rogers has raised public awareness in an effort to stop the human rights abuses in Colombia. In addition to discrediting the image that Coca Cola spends over one million dollars in advertising per day to maintain, Rogers also targets colleges and universities that have signed lucrative distribution contracts with the corporation.
The University of Guelph is one of the many institutions that have inked such a contract with Coca Cola. Interestingly, both Hospitality Services representatives and university administrators are wary of giving Coke's competitors unfair advantages, and have flatly refused to publicize the terms of the contract. Regardless, it is the presence of students that make universities a lucrative market for corporations in the first place, and as such, I believe that paying students should be privy to this contractual information. Especially because the contract in question links the university that we students pay to support to a corporation that operates, in Rogers words, like "criminal enterprise."
Last February a committee of students and administrators drafted a Code of Ethical Conduct for Suppliers and Subcontractors, in which the university admitted that "our actions, including our consumer decisions, have an impact on those involved in production [and that] this obliges us to address the ethical implications of our business transactions." Although the Code cannot affect the U of G's contract with Coca Cola (it doesn't apply to existing contracts) it will still help the university take steps towards "conducting its business affairs in an ethical manner."
Unfortunately, more than seven months have elapsed since the committee presented its final draft of the Code, and it still has not been implemented. Although university President Alastair Summerlee has expressed a desire to pass the Code, he has yet to provide even a tentative date for its ratification. Without the Code in place, the University of Guelph is only increasing the likelihood that it will again find itself conducting business with unethical companies. Furthermore, by refusing to provide students with information relating to its contracts with Coca Cola, the university is preventing them from making informed purchasing decisions.
One wonders why, instead of doing its "utmost to fulfil [its] moral obligations to workers," the University of Guelph would rather do its utmost to fulfil its business obligations to a killer corporation like Coca Cola.
University of Guelph
4. New York Times, "Coke Warns of Slack Sales for a Year or So," Nov. 12, 2004, By Melanie Warner
"In the United States, all the major soft drink makers have been doing poorly but the retail sales performance of Coca-Cola's carbonated business lags both of its top competitors, Pepsi-Cola and Cadbury Schweppes."
Read entire article.
5. Jones and Stewart's Drinks in Canada
We are always looking for suggestions from our supporters about alternative beverages to Coca-Cola. Last week, we wrote about Blue Sky soda which can be purchased in many parts of the U.S. and Canada. This week, supporters from Canada sent us e-mails suggesting Stewart's Fountain Classics and Jones sodas.
Please send us the name of any beverage in your region that is an alternative to Coke so we can publicize it.
6. Sign a petition to Stop Coca-Cola Crimes in Colombia
One of the supporters of the Campaign has set up an online petition to "Stop Coca-Cola Crimes in Colombia!!!" The stated goal is to get 10,000 signatures. Please sign on to the petition.
Go to the Petition
7. Campaign Director Ray Rogers Speaks to Students, Faculty and Administration at St. Peter's Prep, Jersey City, New Jersey
On Thursday, November 11, Ray Rogers spoke to students, faculty and administration at St. Peter's Prep, a Jesuit high school in New Jersey. The school of about 1,000 students has Coke beverages all over the campus. Various representatives at the school had requested Coca-Cola's presence at the meeting, but they refused to participate in a debate. The company was even asked to speak to the students at another time, but refused.
The students had been involved in a Campaign to Stop Killer Coke since last semester and over 100 students appeared to hear Ray's message. A student supporter, active in the Campaign last semester and who graduated last spring, came up from Washington, DC, to participate in the forum.
Dr. Dominic Scibilia introduced Ray to the body, which included the school's principal and president. After Ray's speech in which he highlighted Coke's human rights and environmental abuses, as well as what the Campaign has been doing, the students had numerous questions — after the meeting, many students and teachers remained to continue the dialogue. A large group of students and teachers are committed to making St. Peter's Prep a Coke-free campus. They all agreed with Ray that "no campus that prides itself as a center of ethics and morality should be lending its name and credibility to Coca-Cola, nor serve as a marketplace or venue for Coke's sales and advertising."
See photos from St. Peter's
8. Join a Demonstration with NYC Council Member Monserrate
NYC Council Member Hiram Monserrate, the leader of the factfinding mission to Colombia whose report can be found on our home page, has asked us to announce a rally and march on Saturday, Nov. 20th in Queens, NY. at 71st-Continental Ave. & Queens Blvd. at 11:30 am.
On Oct. 18th, 2004, 18-year-old Manuel Chametla was killed by the gun of a retired New York Police Dept. Detective John Malik. The detective said that his gun fell to the floor and accidentally fired killing Chametla. Council Member Monserrate, himself a former police office and a former Marine, stated that such a scenario is unlikely. No arrest was made; the demonstration has been called to demand justice for Manuel Chametla. The march will go to the offices of District Attorney Richard Brown.
The demonstration is supported by NYC Councilmembers Monserrate, Margarita Lopez, Charles Barron and Miguel Martinez; Congresswoman Nydia Velasques, as well as numerous human rights, civil rights, religious and community groups.
For more information, call Council Members Monserrate's office at 718-205-3881.
9. "Reports" on Home Page
Our important reports can now be accessed from our home page at www.killercoke.org at the link "More Reports." There are a number of reports from the Campaign responding to the lies of Coca-Cola.
10. Call Coca-Cola and tell them to stop their worldwide abuses.
You can call Coke at 1-800-GET-COKE (1-800-438-2653), talk to a real person and register your concern about Coca-Cola's behavior in Colombia and around the world.
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
"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