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Campaign to Stop Killer Coke: UPDATE

Terra Incognita
Winter '07 No. 7

The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke was founded in 2003 to expose Coca-Cola's complicity in the kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders and workers by Colombian paramilitaries. Last year, Terra Incognita published the campaign's introductory letter along with a brief list of other Coca-Cola abuses and infamies. What follows is a summary of the campaign's most important achievements since then, further actions taken against the soft drink giant, and the company's latest disgraces.

December 2005

  • New York University, the largest private university in the U.S., bans the sale and marketing of Coca-Cola products on its campus because of the company's human rights abuses in Colombia.
  • Three weeks later, the University of Michigan follows suit, announcing it will temporarily suspend the sale of Coca-Cola products as of January 1st, 2006. The University informs Coca-Cola that the suspension is conditional on the findings of an "independent, third-party investigation" of labor relations at bottling plants in Colombia.

April 2006

  • Public relations scam #1: Coca-Cola informs the University of Michigan that independent investigations will be conducted in both Colombia and India, by the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the former and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in the latter. The chief spokesperson for the ILO's Employers' Group is Edward E. Potter, who is Coca-Cola's Director of Global Labor Relations and Workplace Accountability. As an impartial body, TERI is to investigate the company's use of local water supplies, yet Coca-Cola India Ltd. is one of its corporate sponsors. Without further consultation, the University of Michigan then announces it will resume the purchase of Coca-Cola products, apparently satisfied with Coca-Cola's idea of an "independent, third-party investigation."
  • Students at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, vote to ban Coca-Cola from their campus.
  • Global Village 2006 decides to ban Coca-Cola products from its international camp in Kent, England because of the company's involvement in the violent repression of trade union leaders in Colombia.
  • Coca-Cola is ordered by the Panamanian Supreme Court to pay a fine of $300,000 U.S. for dumping 4,500 liters of chemical coloring into the Bay of Panama in 2003.

May 2006

  • Public relations scam #2: On 18 May, the Latin American Association recognizes Coca-Cola for its "Exemplary Corporate Leadership" at the LAA's annual awards luncheon, an event sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company. Furthermore, the chair of the LAA's board of directors is Frank Ross, who is also the Assistant Vice President of Latin Affairs for Coca-Cola.
  • The City University of New York School of Law bans Coca-Cola products from its campus because of the company's human rights violations at its bottling plants in Colombia.
  • The American Anthropological Association, representing over 10,000 faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities, endorses a boycott of Coca-Cola in light of the company's brutal treatment of union organizers in Colombia.

June 2006

  • The Student Parliament of the University of Cologne (Germany) enacts a boycott of all Coca-Cola drinks in the college's dining halls and common areas. By now more than two dozen colleges and universities in the U.S., Canada and Europe have cut or suspended contracts with Coca-Cola.

July 2006

  • KLD of Boston, Massachusetts (U.S.A.), the country's top investor resource for corporate social responsibility evaluations, removes the Coca-Cola Company from its Broad Market Social Index (BMSI). KLD bases its decision on Coke's contamination of aquifers in India, human rights violations in Colombia and aggressive marketing aimed at children. As a result, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Fund (TIAA-CREF), the largest pension fund in the U.S., will ban Coca-Cola from its socially screened investment portfolio.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Coca-Cola was forced to recall over two million of its bottled drinks in Japan after it was discovered they contained iron powder.

August 2006

  • The southern Indian state of Kerala imposes a total ban on the production and sale of Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinks because they were discovered to contain dangerous levels of pesticide residue. Kerala becomes the fourth Indian state to prohibit sales of the drinks for this reason, but the first to outlaw their production as well.

For more information, visit the campaign website at www.killercoke.org.

Editor's note: There are some individuals who ridicule the efforts of people working to hold the Coca-Cola Company accountable for its crimes. These individuals also mock other people who support these efforts. That's all right, because their crassness reveals that they are deeply insecure and have no inner life to speak of. So, laugh all you want, folks; the campaign is succeeding, whether you like it or not.

Keep on guzzlin' in the free worldl

FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.