02 January 2009

Coca-Cola: Murder for Profit

The accusations against Coca-Cola company and its affiliates are so far-reaching that it is impossible and unnecessary to list them all here. The purpose of this entry is only to highlight some of the aspects of both the international campaign against Coca-Cola and some of the accusations brought against the company:

"In the past two years the Coke campaign has grown into the largest anticorporate movement since the campaign against Nike for sweatshop abuses. Around the world, dozens of unions and more than twenty universities have banned Coke from their facilities, while activists have dogged the company from World Cup events in London to the Winter Olympics in Torino. More than just the re-emergence of the corporate boycott, however, the fight against Coke is a leap forward in international cooperation. Coke, with its red-and-white swoosh recognizable everywhere from Beijing to Baghdad, is perhaps the quintessential symbol of the US-dominated global economy. The fight to hold it accountable has, in turn, broadly connected issues across continents to become a truly globalized grassroots movement." (The Nation, The Case Against Coke)

Many people have died at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Columbia. Some of those killed in South America alone are: Avelino Achicanoy (Pasto Plant, 1990), Jose Elaseasar MancoDavid (Carepa Plant, 1994), Luis Enrique Giraldo Arango (Carepa Plant, 1994), Luis Enrique Gomez Garado (Carepa Plant, 1995), Isidro Segundo Gil (Carepa Plant, 1996), Jose Librado Herrera Osorio (Carepa Plant, 1996), Oscar Dario Soto Polo (Monteria Plant, 2001), Adolfo de Jesus Munera Lopez (Baranquilla Plant, 2002). Hundreds of other Coke workers have been tortured, kidnapped and/or illegally detained by violent paramilitaries, often working closely with plant managements. Such actions are not solely the result of local governments or military forces. Coca-Cola itself is directly accused of "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders,” indicating that Coca-Cola had direct involvement with harmful actions in Colombia and other places around the world.

Those workers who have attempted to unionize in third world countries have quickly realized the horrors that can accompany worker solidarity in the face of an international superpower like Coca-Cola and the economic/political alliances that have been forged from so-called International Free Trade:

"The aim of a free trade area is to so reduce barriers to easy exchange that trade can grow as a result of specialisation, division of labour, and most importantly via (the theory and practice of) comparative advantage. The theory of comparative advantage argues that in an unrestricted marketplace (in equilibrium) each source of production will tend to specialize in that activity where it has comparative (rather than absolute) advantage. The theory argues that the net result will be an increase in income and ultimately wealth and well-being for everyone in the free trade area. However the theory refers only to aggregate wealth and says nothing about the distribution of wealth. In fact there may be significant losers, in particular among the recently protected industries with a comparative disadvantage. The proponent of free trade can, however, retort that the gains of the gainers exceed the losses of the losers." (Free Trade area)
It is true that the gains of the "gainers" has far exceeded the losses of the "losers." Unfortunately, in this case (and in many others), the losers are human beings who are being exploited, killed, harassed and oppressed by local governments who seek to be on the gaining side of such agreements. An American corp like Coca-Cola, forever on the search for wider margins of profit, will quickly take advantage of low human rights standards in localities around the world in order to increase their revenue. As third world countries around the world are guiled by the false promise of American wealth, the reverberations are far reaching:

"In India, Coca-Cola is guilty of creating severe water shortages and polluting the groundwater and soil, affecting tens of thousands of farmers. Coca-Cola was also distributing toxic waste to farmers as fertilizer and selling drinks in the Indian market with extremely high levels of pesticides. In Colombia, Coca-Cola is charged with complicity in the murder, torture and intimidation of trade union organizers in Coca-Cola bottling plants." (India Resource Center, Students Campaign to Ban Coca-Cola Products on Campuses)
Coke has also literally stolen the ground water from people around the world in order to fill their non-biodegradable bottles full of free water to sell around the world:

"In India, Coca-Cola destroys local agriculture by privatizing the country's water resources. In Plachimada, Kerala, Coca-Cola extracted 1.5 million liters of deep well water, which they bottled and sold under the names Dasani and BonAqua. The groundwater was severely depleted, affecting thousands of communities with water shortages and destroying agricultural activity. As a result, the remaining water became contaminated with high chloride and bacteria levels, leading to scabs, eye problems, and stomach aches in the local population."(International Labor Rights Forum, The 14 Worst Corporate Evildoers)
Coca-Cola is also accused of being one of the most discriminatory corps in the world, having been sued by 2,000 African-American employees in the United States for racial discrimination.

The accusations against Coca-Cola are absolutely staggering, and I'm certain that those who have stumbled into this website are already well aware. The purpose of this entry is to highlight some points which may come in handy when talking to other people who just can't believe that their favorite, highly acidic and caustic refreshment is killing and oppressing people all across the world.

Further reading:
article: The Case Against Coke (The Nation)
article: Students Campaign to Ban Coca-Cola Products on Campuses (India Resource Center)
article: An Appeal to All Communities: Stop Coca-Cola’s Abuses! (Killer Coke)
article: The 14 Worst Corporate Evildoers (International Labor Rights Forum)
International Labor Rights Forum
Killer Coke
United Students Against Sweatshops
List of Coca-Cola Brands

Just don't drink Coca-Cola or any of the other products owned by the corporation! Don't buy anything that comes in a plastic bottle. Get a Nalgene bottle or a thermos and bring your own non-Coke drinks with you. Familiarize yourself with the wide and crazy world of Coca-Cola products in order not to be duped into supporting slavery, murder and oppression around the world.

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