Declaration: Stop the violence of Coca-Cola in Colombia and in the world!

IssueDecember 2002 - February 2003

Colombia has become a model of the extreme use of violence to impose neoliberal globalisation. Every form of social organisation that resists is being eliminated: indigenous people, peasants, workers are assassinated for opposing the objectives of investors. Each year more trade unionists are assassinated in this country than in the whole of the rest of the world.

Coca-Cola and its Colombian subsidiary, Panamco SA participate in this dirty war against social movements. So it is that in the last 10 years, 8 leaders of the union at this company have been assassinated, 2 have had to go into exile, and another 48 have been forcibly displaced.

The perpetual actions of paramilitary groups, acting in complicity with the armed forces and security corps of the state, serve the multi-national and its subsidiary in illegally pressuring union leaders, compelling workers to quit the union in order to sabotage conventions at work, forcing them to renounce their contracts and imposing low salaries to new workers taken on. This labour policy, based on terror, allows Coca-Cola to increase its profits enormously.

In other countries, too - Guatemala, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Israel, Venezuela, etc - social movements accuse Coca-Cola of using, directly or through its subsidiaries, assassination, violence, corruption and breaking labour laws, to reach its economic goals. In the USA, the multi-national has been denounced for racial discrimination, for harming public health, for environmental damage, for genetic contamination, and for water pollution. In many cases it has been denounced, and sometimes condemned, but nearly always, its powers allows it to escape justice.

The acme of absurdity in the globalisation and the militarisation of Latin America is that Coca-Cola can buy coca and distribute it in its drink while the indigenous people growing from time immemorial are repressed by the drug war. For all the above, the organisations and persons who sign below:

  • We denounce the violence used by Coca-Cola, directly and indirectly, and the impunity surrounding this. The case of Colombia reveals in a form particularly clear and cruel the link between violence and the neoliberal model, of which Coca-Cola is the spearhead along with other multi-nationals such as McDonald's, Monsanto, United Fruit Co (now Chiquita), Unilever, Endesa, Nestlé, Occidental Petroleum, Repsol, BP, Bayer, Drummond etc.
  • We demand an end to these activities of Coca-Cola and that those responsible should be punished through judicial actions brought by the victims in Colombia. We demand that the government of Colombia should halt the dirty war against the social movements, and put an end to the impunity of those who foment and carry it out.
  • We urge the UN to adopt binding norms to force multi-national corporations to respect human rights.
  • We urge the industrialised countries and the UN to change their anti-drug policies to put an end to the monopoly of the multi-national Coca-Coca to export and market derivatives from the coca plant, and that the drug war against peasants and indigenous people should cease.
  • We support the judicial action initiated by the union Sinaltrainal against Coca-Cola in the USA on 20 July 2001, based in the Alien Torts Claims Act.
  • We unite with the action of innumerable groups against the damnable conduct of Coca-Cola and declare that another Colombia and another world are possible, without the criminal activities of national and multi-national corporations.
  • We express our backing for the Public Hearing in Brussels, 10 October 2002, on the criminal activities of Coca-Cola and its subsidiaries in Colombia. We appeal that these actions and this hearing will strengthen the campaign that this transnational corporation will put a stop to the violence that, directly or indirectly, it and its subsidiaries bring to bear in Colombia and in many other countries on this planet.