Coca-Cola’s murderous record of anti-union activity in Colombia exposed
Coca-Cola: to many, it is simply the all-American cola that everyone grew up drinking. Originally created in the late 1800s as a medicine, Coca-Cola eventually evolved into one of the world’s most popular soft drinks. Besides being a very unhealthy beverage, Coca-Cola has another dirty secret for which few people are aware; the Coca-Cola Company has been involved in a series of kidnappings involving union leaders and organizers at its Colombia bottling facilities. Many of those kidnapped have been severely tortured and even murdered by company thugs.
As shocking and unbelievable as all of this sounds, there is a trail of documented evidence against Coca-Cola for its crimes against union officials. In fact, back in 2001, the United Steelworkers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund, filed a joint lawsuit on behalf of SINALTRAINAL to address the problems in Colombia.
Javier Correa, President of the National Union of Food Industry Workers, and William Mendoza, President of the Barrancabermeja location in Colombia, have joined together with Ray Rogers, Director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, to bring light to the issue and push for an end to the atrocities.
How did it all start?
Most people recognize that unions are formed to protect workers from unfair treatment and abuse by employers. Though some do not operate as intended, the general idea of unions is to ensure that workers are receiving fair pay for their labor and that they are not being grossly extorted by those for whom they work.
U.S. laws have been designed to protect American workers who form labor unions from being threatened or silenced by the companies for whom they work, and while they are not perfect, their intent was for the best interests of American workers.
When workers at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia began to step up and organize unions, the Coca-Cola Company allegedly began to contract with paramilitary security forces to deal with leaders and organizers, something they would not legally be able to do in the U.S. Even today, these forces are using extreme tactics to silence anyone who would dare attempt to organize workers to form a union. These tactics include violent detention efforts, torture and even murder.
Internal Pentagon records that were eventually required to be made public revealed that Colombian troops connected with Coca-Cola’s paramilitary forces were also being trained at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA) in Fort Benning, Georgia, to torture and murder those who conduct “union organizing and recruiting”, distribute “propaganda in favor of workers”, and “sympathize with demonstrators or strikes.”