Coke in Colombia

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Any fan of the TV series Narcos knows that terrible things have been done in Colombia. But cocaine crime lords are not the only ones with murderous reputations. Nik Bonopartis reported last month that Coca-Cola has finally been accused of having many of its opponents eliminated by hired assassins:

The details, which have emerged as the Colombian government works out a peace deal with remnants of guerilla groups, include accusations that the Coca-Cola company paid off hitmen to kill at least 10 labor leaders who were trying to organize unions.

Right-wing paramilitary groups serve as private armies to protect the interests of Coke and other corporate entities. Their victims have included not only union organizers and members, but left-leaning thought influencers and other human rights activists.

This comes as no surprise to KillerCoke.org, which has been tracking the activities of these mercenaries for years. An archival page on their website contains detailed accounts of past misbehavior, and honors many of the deceased by listing their names and death dates.

According to the organization:

Coca-Cola, which is virulently anti-union, claims that any allegations that its bottlers in Colombia are involved in the systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture, and murder of union leaders are false. Yet the company has fought every effort to have an independent investigation into these allegations while at the same time has misled the public and its own shareholders with a long string of lies and bogus investigations.

The soft drink giant made worldwide news in 2003 when trade unions called for a global boycott of the corporation’s products because of the violence connected with its “business as usual.” Sinaltrainal, the food and drink union, had filed a lawsuit in Miami against Coke and its Colombian bottling plant partners, but the judge let Coke off the hook.

Although the boycott received press coverage in other countries, the local media had little to say. Union president Javier Correa told a reporter, “In Colombia it is very difficult for this type of case to make it into local media. It’s all part of the culture of impunity.” Meanwhile, the International Confederation of Trade Unions confirmed that Colombia was the most dangerous nation for union members of all kinds, with 184 violent deaths in a single year.

Not content with causing death by the slow process of diabetes and other conditions generated by use of its products, Coke apparently has a hand in more immediate and messy methods of slaughter. But it does not ignore non-violent methods of protecting itself.

Only last month, Colombia’s government ordered the ban of a television advertisement that described the health hazards inherent in sugar-sweetened beverages, and, according to journalist Kerry Cullinan, it was “not because the advertisement was misleading or inaccurate”:

A division of the Colombian Ministry of Industry Commerce, the Superintendent of Industry and Commerce (SIC), ordered a civil society coalition to stop all their mass media advertising against sugary drinks.

The government’s action was requested by Colombia’s biggest soft-drink manufacturer, Postobon, which is ostensibly Coke’s rival in business. But in the upper strata of world economic dominance, Coca-Cola and Postobon and every similar corporation are on the same side, collaborating to resist and destroy any individual or group that attempts to weaken their power.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Colombia: Coca-Cola Financed Terror Group,” OpposingViews.com, 09/02/16
Source: “Coke’s Crimes in Colombia,” KillerCoke.org, undated
Source: “Coca-Cola boycott launched after killings at Colombian plants,” TheGuardian.com, 07/23/03
Source: “Taking on Big Food: How low-income countries are targeted for distribution of junk food,” Dailymaverick.co.za, 09/13/16
Photo credit: A.Davey via Visualhunt/CC BY

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