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Struggle against Coke heats up in the summer

July 9, 2012 Newsletter

Contents

  1. Hypocrisy of Coke at the London Olympics
    1. Introduction
    2. Why Coke Shouldn't Be Allowed Near the Olympics
    3. Background of Issues
      1. Colombia
      2. Guatemala
      3. El Salvador
      4. Mexico
      5. India
      6. United States
  2. The Coke 16 racial discrimination struggle heightens
  3. Struggle for justice for Mexican workers and Kent's lies
  4. Articles on Coke
  5. Donate to the Campaign

1. Hypocrisy of Coke at the London Olympics

a. Introduction

It's unfortunate the Olympics committee continues to defame the ideals and the spirit the Olympics is supposed to represent. How much lower can the Olympic committee stoop than to sell the Olympic logo to the highest corporate bidders like Coca-Cola, which has exclusive rights as the only soft drinks provider to the Olympics?

As reported by the Associated Press, "Alongside McDonald's, Coca-Cola has the exclusive right to sell non-alcoholic drinks at Olympic venues. Heineken, partly owned by FEMSA, has been named the games official beer." Mexican-based FEMSA and Coca-Cola jointly own Coca-Cola FEMSA, which is Coca-Cola's largest bottler.

Coca-Cola FEMSA is involved in horrific human rights abuses against union leaders and family members in Colombia. FEMSA's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jose Antonio Fernandez Carbajal, is a member of Heineken's board. He is also on Heineken's Supervisory Board with Javier Gerardo Astaburuaga Sanjines, FEMSA's chief financial officer.

If there are supporters in England during the Olympics who are interested in protesting, feel free to use any images on our site and to download any flyers, posters and stickers.

Pin given to attendees at Coca-Cola's 2012 Shareholders Meeting

b. Why Coke Shouldn't Be Allowed Near the Olympics

Dozens of colleges and universities and many labor unions throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe have removed Coke machines and banned Coke beverages from their facilities and functions because of Coke's widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses.

On April 25, 2012, dozens of proxy holders, including students, academics and human rights leaders attended Coca-Cola's annual shareholders meeting prepared to ask a series of tough questions, but Coke did not allow most of these questions to be raised. Coke Chair/CEO Muhtar Kent used his bully pulpit to continue a stream of propaganda and lies denying any wrongdoing whatsoever by the Company.

Protesters outside the meeting carried signs that said, "Coke CEO Muhtar Kent - Liar!"; "Coke's not it! Coke 16 sue, Say Coke plants are 'Cesspools of racial discrimination'. " and "Don't Drink Killer Coke! Zero Ethics! Zero Justice! Zero Health!" while a mobile billboard saying: "KillerCoke.org Unthinkable! Undrinkable!, Murders in Colombia, Child Labor in El Salvador, Stealing and Polluting Water in India, El Salvador and Mexico" circled the meeting venue.

  • Coke must stop operating like a criminal syndicate with impunity in countries like Colombia and Guatemala and stop the violence against union leaders and family members in efforts to crush their unions.
  • Coke must stop buying sugar from suppliers that use illegal child labor in the dangerous job of harvesting sugar cane.
  • Coke must stop cheating Mexican workers and the government out of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars through an illegal scheme of outsourcing and tax evasion.
  • Coke must stop the pollution and over-exploitation of water resources in places like India, Mexico and El Salvador, which is depriving farmers of water for irrigation and communities of water for sanitation and drinking.
  • Coke must end their vehement opposition to bottle deposit bills, which aim to clean up the billions of plastic bottles filling our streams, oceans and our lands.
  • Coke must end its culture of racial discrimination in the United States and Mexico.
  • Coke must stop aggressively marketing beverages to children that we all know are unhealthy and can lead to serious chronic and even terminal illnesses.

All these injustices and more are well-documented in recent books, articles, reports, lawsuits, documentary films and on the website, www.KillerCoke.org.

c. Background of Issues

1. Colombia:

A. In January 2012, another SINALTRAINAL union leader, Ricardo Ramon Paublott Gomez, was murdered by gunfire. We reported on it in our February 21, 2012 newsletter, Item #1, http://www.killercoke.org/nl120221.php

B. In November 2011, there was an intrusion into the home of Juan Carlos Galvis, SINALTRAINAL vice president and Coke worker. His wife, Jackeline Rojas Castaneda, was tied up; gagged and red paint was sprayed on her body and clothes. The intruders threatened to kill her daughter and demanded information about her husband.

In addition to the attack, two laptops, USB sticks, mobiles and documents were stolen. These contained information about Galvis's work.

It was reported in the book, "The Coke Machine" published in 2010:

"The constant pressure of driving around with bodyguards waiting for the next death threat has clearly gotten to him...

" 'It is tough,' [Galvis] says. 'We are on the brink of death, but we keep surviving. We bring in new members to the union, but the company fires them. If it weren't for international solidarity, we would have been eliminated long ago. That is the truth.' "

Galvis also stated:

"If we lose this fight against Coke,
First we will lose our union,
Next we will lose our jobs,
And then we will all lose our lives!"

We reported on this home invasion in our newsletter, Item#1 on Jan. 11, 2012: http://www.killercoke.org/nl120111.php#1

C. In December 2010, the police entered the Coca-Cola bottler in the city of Medellin, authorized by the president of Coca-Cola. They entered with armored tanks, shields, firing weapons with chemical fumes, intimidating and pressuring the subcontracted workers who were protesting. They militarized the dispute and forced workers to desist and accept verbal commitment of the multinational that promised to resolve the conflict, but simultaneously the workers were notified of their dismissal. Since then, the police remain in the Coca-Cola bottling plant, 24 hours a day, terrorizing workers.

We reported on this in our Feb. 11, 2011, newsletter, Item #1fi: http://www.killercoke.org/nl110213.php#1f1

D. As a part of Coca-Cola's attempted cover-up of the abuses in Colombia, the Company threatened legal action against the National Film Board of Canada, the International Human Rights Film Festival in Paris, France and Cinema Politica, a worldwide grassroots film collective, if the film, The Coca-Cola Case, was shown uncensored. No one backed down and the film continues to play to large audiences around the world.

We reported on this in our January 15, 2010 newsletter at: http://www.killercoke.org/nl100115b.php

The threatening letter Coke sent out is at: http://www.killercoke.org/downloads/lettertocinemapolitica.pdf

The Coca-Cola Case

Coke's Crimes in Colombia: http://www.killercoke.org/crimes_colombia.php

2. Guatemala

A. History is repeating itself in Guatemala. There is a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court accusing The Coca-Cola Co. and its operations in Guatemala of murder, attempted murder and gang rape of a teenage daughter to pressure union leaders to stop their organizing.

Coca-Cola Union Leader Armando Palacios Interviewed with Translation

Interview with Guatemalan Union Leader Jose Alberto Vicente Chavez

Coke's Crimes in Guatemala:

http://www.killercoke.org/crimes_guatemala.php

3. El Salvador

Coca-Cola continues to benefit from hazardous child labor in the sugar cane fields of El Salvador as first reported by Human Rights Watch and film footage taken in 2007 which appeared in a documentary, Mark Thomas on Coca-Cola, which played on national television in the UK.

Video showing child labor from the Mark Thomas film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKDCLbIZJds

Coke's Crimes in El Salvador: http://www.killercoke.org/crimes_el_salvador.php

4. Mexico

Coke has been widely exposed in the Mexican press and is under investigation by Mexican authorities for an illegal scheme of outsourcing and tax evasion that has cheated Mexican workers and the Mexican government out of hundred of millions or even billions of dollars. This came to light after the firing of former 16-year employee and marketing executive, Angel Alvarado, after he refused a directive to initiate an illegal campaign to destroy all of Coke's competition at 700,000 mom-and-pop stores. Alvarado filed a lawsuit that led to further investigation by Mexican authorities.

Law firm warning to avoid following in Coke's footsteps:

THE COCA COLA COMPANY INVESTIGATED FOR TAX EVASION

Articles in El Universal on June 7, 2012:

"Coca-Cola on the Ropes" by Alberto Barranco, El Universal, June 7, 2012

"Acorralan a Coca Cola" by Alberto Barranco, El Universal, June 7, 2012

Coke's Crimes in Mexico: http://www.killercoke.org/crimes_mexico.php

5. India

In India, after years of Coca-Cola's lying and denying any wrongdoing, a High Power Committee established by the state government of Kerala has recommended that Coca-Cola be held liable for $48 million, or more, to compensate victims in Plachimada for water pollution, agricultural losses and endangering the health of thousands. And this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding environmental damage and water exploitation that Coca-Cola and its operations are causing in countries including India, China, El Salvador and Mexico. Coke has been forced to shut down two plants in India and vigils and demonstrations against Coke continue in India.

"Government Moves to Claim $48 Million Compensation from Coca-Cola"
Read Article

Coke's Crimes in India: http://killercoke.org/crimes_india.php

6. United States

Black and Hispanic production workers, including a group dubbed "The Coke 16," are suing Coca-Cola, claiming they have been forced to work in a "cesspool of racial discrimination." The suit, filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, accuses the company of relegating minorities to less favorable assignments, unfair disciplinary action and retaliation for complaining..."

"Coke's not it: 16 workers sue, call giant 'cesspool' of racial discrimination," Daily News
Read Article

Racial discrimination in Coke plants

2. The Coke 16 racial discrimination struggle heightens

Members of The Coke 16 have done 7 radio interviews as of today and will be doing many more interviews with the media. Many of these interviews can be heard at http://thecoke16.wordpress.com:

June 25, 2012, Coke 16 members, Yvette Butler and Ramon Hernandez, were interviewed live on WBAI's (99.5 fm) "Building Bridges," by longtime hosts and activists Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg. Ray Rogers was also a participant in the interview.

Listen to Interview on WBAI

June 17, 2012, "Roots" on WHCR Community Radio station in Harlem
William Camacaro interviewed Victor Borras (Elmsford) and Luis Morales (Smithtown) in Spanish

June 16, 2012, The Coke 16 On The Radio (Spanish) "La Voz Latina" WBAI New York 99.5 FM 06-16-2012; Will Nunez and Ramon Hernandez were interviewed by William Camacaro in Spanish
Listen to the Interview

June 9, 2012, Yvette Butler and Guillermo (Will) Nunez speak about "The Coke 16" on WBAI's "City Watch," interviewed by Bill DiFazio
Listen to the Interview

May 25, 2012: Ramon Hernandez and Will Nunez of The Coke 16 on "The News Dissector Radio Show" with Danny Schechter
Listen on YouTube

May 16, 2012, "15 Minutes of Fact: On the Docket - Worker's Economic and Social Rights that Require OWS Attention" Hosted by Jerry Ashton who interviewed Sandra Walker
Listen to the Interview

May 8, 2012, Dianne Mathiowetz interviews Ramon Hernandez and Guillermo (Will) Nunez of The Coke 16 on "The Labor Forum" in Atlanta.
Watch on Youtube

The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke and The Coke 16 demonstrate against Muhtar Kent at a Wall Street event.

Slogans were "Muhtar Kent! You Lie!" and "2-4-6-8, Why does Coke discriminate!"

Other information about Coke and racial discrimination can be found at http://www.killercoke.org/discrimination.php

To show support for The Coke 16, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheCoke16

Soon, we will put up a new website focusing on racial discrimination in Coca-Cola facilities and The Coke 16 struggle. Look for an announcement at www.KillerCoke.org.

3. Struggle for justice for Mexican workers and Kent's lies

An update of Ray Rogers's SEC complaint about Coke CEO/Chair Muhtar Kent's lies to the shareholders at the last two annual meetings:

I want to follow-up and update my previous complaint, filed one year ago [June 6, 2011; Reference #TCR1307395939385], to continue to alert the Securities and Exchange Commission to what I believe is on-going SEC Rule 10(b)-5 violations by the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Muhtar Kent of The Coca-Cola Company.

Since the time of my last complaint, Mr. Kent and Coca-Cola have repeatedly failed to inform shareholders of potentially damaging litigation and government investigations related to the company's activities in Mexico. This includes a series of lawsuits filed in Mexico by Angel Alvarado-AgŁero, a former employee and marketing executive with Coca-Cola in Mexico; and an investigation by Mexico's Fiscal Crimes division of the Federal Treasury Investigation Department.

As described in my previous complaint, the series of lawsuits contend that Coca-Cola and an affiliate conspired over the past 25 years to cheat Mexican workers, including Mr. Alvarado-AgŁero, out of agreed-upon and legally mandated compensation; and the Mexican government out of lawful tax revenue through a scheme of outsourcing and tax evasion. The lawsuits-brought in the Mexican Federal Court of Labor Law, the Mexican Treasury Department, and the Procuraduria General de La Republica-date back to 2007. [PLEASE SEE THE SUPPORTING DOCUMENT "Original 2007 Lawsuit" SUPPLIED IN MY ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

Despite all this, Coca-Cola and Mr. Kent continue to purposefully deceive the investing public as to the potential financial and litigation damage, estimated in the billions of dollars, the company may face in Mexico, which is Coca-Cola's second-largest market. In previous public statements by its executives and in its publicly filed documents with the SEC, Coca-Cola has refused to inform shareholders of these on-going events, which carry potentially damaging consequences for the company's brand name, legal liability, profits and, of course, stock price.

Worse yet, in behavior similar to that exhibited at last year's Annual Meeting of Shareholders (which preceded my previous complaint), Mr. Kent continued to commit actionable fraud upon the company shareholders at this year's Annual Meeting, held on April 25, 2012, in Atlanta, Ga.

I — as a shareholder of the company's stock — was again able to publicly ask Mr. Kent why the company has not acknowledged, in its SEC filings nor in its executives' public statements, the series of lawsuits filed in Mexico nor the current investigation of the company by Mexican authorities.

And in his response, again Mr. Kent blatantly crossed the line into what I am certain is a securities law violation in accordance to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and its Antifraud provision, outlined in Section 10(b), which was codified in SEC Rule 10(b)-5.

During the April 25, 2012 Annual Meeting, when Mr. Kent was asked publicly before the entire Annual Meeting of Shareholders why the company and its executives have refused to acknowledge the situation in Mexico and its potentially damaging consequences for the company, and by extension, its shareholders, Mr. Kent replied that any charges that Coca-Cola was facing any such legal problem in Mexico was based on "false, misleading and exaggerated claims".

Mr. Kent went on to say that the allegations brought by Mr. Angel Alvarado-AgŁero, were: "Not true-Full Stop!" and that there was: "No pending investigations by competition authorities or any authorities in Mexico involving our company. Full Stop!"

Mr. Kent's clear denials were in direct contrast to the public record, both in this country and in Mexico, which includes press accounts, government correspondence and legal documents that demonstrate the truth of these charges and of Coke's ultimate liability in this matter.

Most recently (and see attached documents), the Mexican newspaper "El Universal" wrote of these lawsuits and investigations on June 7, 2012; also, the renown Mexican legal firm of Corpusiure International Associated Firms, wrote a highly critical legal paper in May 2011 outlining the Mexican federal tax authorities case against Coca-Cola, entitled "The Coca-Cola Company Investigated for Tax Evasion".

Despite this growing body of evidence, Mr. Kent and the Coca-Cola Company continue to deny the very existence of these lawsuits and investigations stemming from the company's behavior in Mexico over the past quarter-century. And it continues to be clear that Mr. Kent has lied to and tried to mislead both shareholders and the investment community, in regards to the company's situation in Mexico. He has also withheld information of potential liabilities that the investment community should be aware of because they could cost the company billions of dollars in fines, restitution and legal damages.

Again, I would strongly encourage the SEC to investigate Mr. Kent's comments and compel The Coca-Cola Company and Mr. Kent to fully comply with this nation's securities laws, especially those laws requiring a company's complete and truthful disclosure of all material matters.

Article on the Angel Alvarado case:

"Acorralan a Coca Cola" by Alberto Barranco, El Universal, June 7, 2012
Read Article

"La sorpresa llegó hace unos dias a la asamblea de accionistas de Coca Cola Company, la matriz mundial de las firmas productoras de la bebida gaseosa, cuando uno de los accionistas Ie preguntó a quemarropa a su presidente, Muhtar Kent, sobre la existencia de una serie de demandas en México, que a su juicio podrian provocarle daiios por mil millones de dólares...

"Coca Cola, pues, esta en el callejon."

English Translation:

"Coca-Cola on the Ropes" by Alberto Barranco, El Universal, June 7, 2012
Read Article

"The surprise came a few days ago at The Coca-Cola Company's annual shareholders meeting, the world headquarters of the company producing the carbonated soft drink, when one of the shareholders [Ray Rogers] asked CEO Muhtar Kent point blank about the existence of a series of demands in Mexico, which he believes could cost the company a billion dollars.

"Kent denied the allegations...

"The truth is that the Chief Executive Officer of Coca Cola lied...

"The problem for the company is in the investigation triggered by the persistence of this former marketing executive [Angel Alvarado], once commissioned in Costa Rica, causing this investigation by the Tax Administration System for alleged tax evasion...

"Coca-Cola, then, has no way out."

4. Articles on Coke

"SodaStream Takes Marketing Tactic To Coca-Cola's Hometown" by Duane D. Stanford - Jun 20, 2012 Bloomberg.com
Read Article

"SodaStream (SODA) International Ltd. already told Coca-Cola (KO) Co. it wouldn't stop using Coke bottles in its marketing. Now SodaStream is taking the fight to the company's front door -- or at least the park across the street from Coke's World of Coca-Cola museum in Atlanta...

"On June 22, SodaStream, which sells do-it-yourself soft- drink machines, plans to erect a car-sized cage at Centennial Olympic Park, filled with thousands of used soft-drink bottles and cans. The point: Buying packaged drinks clogs up landfills, while making soda at home helps save the planet.

"A similar display at a South Africa airport has drawn threats of a lawsuit by Coca-Cola, the world's largest beverage maker with a market value of about $170 billion, 228 times larger than SodaStream. The upstart uses 30 such displays around the globe to take issue with the waste created by big soda companies.

" 'No one's going to shut us up with a lawyer's letter,' SodaStream Chief Executive Officer Daniel Birnbaum said today in a telephone interview. 'Not in South Africa or anywhere.' "

Todd Putman attack on Coke

"Former Coke exec slams marketing by soda makers" by N.C. Aizenman, The Washington Post, June 10, 2012
Read Article

"On Thursday, he [Todd Putman] came to settle it. He wanted to give an inside account of what he contends has been a drive by Coca-Cola to replace not just its direct competitors but all beverages in the American diet - a campaign for what the company called 'share of stomach.' He wanted to warn about the industry's focus on young people and minorities...

"Today that work is one of Putman's greatest regrets. Statistics consistently show that the incidence of obesity is highest among minorities. The higher price and relative scarcity of many healthier alternatives to soda in low-income communities - as well as the lack of marketing to promote those that are available - effectively mean that low income minorities have fewer choices, Putman said. 'The game is rigged by the power of the soft drink industry and how much money they put against all the competition in that space...'

"Company research indicated that brand loyalty starts young, and once formed it is hard to break. 'I would say 90 percent of all soft drink marketing is targeted at 12- to 24-year-olds. ... It was how we spent all of our time.' "

"China shuts down Coke plant over chlorine pollution," May 1, 2012, Taipei Times
Read Article

"Authorities in northern China have ordered a Coca-Cola bottling plant shut after finding its products were contaminated by chlorine, according to a government statement."

"18-litre-a-day Coke habit left mum bedridden, 100kgs heavier," April 30, 2012, Sydney Morning Herald
Read Article

"Pauline Wyatt ended her Coca-Cola addiction by pouring all 30 bottles she had in her house down the sink...

"Mrs Wyatt's weight shot up more than 100kg in three years, tipping the scales at 198kg at her heaviest.

"She says the wake-up call came one day while drinking a glass of Coke. She felt pain shooting up her arm and through the back of her shoulder. She drove hospital for a check-up. 'I thought I was having a heart attack, but it wasn't - it was just a scare.' "

"Coke drinking linked to woman's death, inquest told" by TVNZ, April 20, 2012
Read Article

"Otago-Southland coroner David Crerar did not make any preliminary findings after yesterday's inquest, however pathologist Dan Mornin said he believed Harris died of cardiac arrhythmia and it was likely she was suffering from hypokalemia (low potassium) along with caffeine toxicity, which could have contributed to her death.

"When asked by Crerar whether it was probable her consumption of Coca-Cola had caused the hypokalemia and arrhythmia, Dr Mornin said yes, along with poor nutrition and caffeine."

5. Please donate to the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke

Many are surprised to learn that the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, which has mobilized thousands of volunteers worldwide, receives no outside funding. The Campaign needs contributions to continue and to expand its efforts. Campaign to Stop Killer Coke's founding organization, Corporate Campaign, Inc., has financed the campaign with tens of thousands of professional staff hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your help is needed and greatly appreciated!

Click HERE to see information and the history of Corporate Campaign, Inc.

To contribute through PayPal, go to: http://www.killercoke.org/contribute.php

or send a check made out to "Campaign to Stop Killer Coke" to:

Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
Cooper Station, PO Box 1002
New York, NY 10276-1002
(718) 852-2808
www.KillerCoke.org