“I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…” one of countless soundbites lodged in our tiny caffeinated minds down the decades from this one company. No doubt the black-sugarey stuff has been branded onto our consciousness over the years - but with global action building against its atrocities in South America, will it now become symbolic with the last days of empire? The gap between Coke’s wholesome family image and their South American activities is sure to grow wider as their sick criminal behaviour in Columbia becomes more widely known.
Trade unions around the world have launched a boycott of Coca-Cola products, alleging that the company's locally owned bottlers in Colombia used illegal paramilitary groups to intimidate, threaten and kill its workers. The unions claim Coca-Cola bottlers hired far-right militias of the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) to murder nine union members at Colombian bottling plants in the past 13 years.
Until now the biggest threat the multi-national faced was a Pepsi-Max campaign, but now it’s in trouble. Two years ago, the Colombian food and drink union Sinaltrainal sued Coca-Cola and its Colombian bottling partners in a US federal court in Miami over the deaths of its members. Now the campaign is blossoming into a global boycott and direct action campaign of solidarity.
Here’s the Coca-Cola promise:
The Coca-Cola company exists to benefit and refresh everyone it touches. The basic proposition of our business is simple, solid and timeless. When we bring refreshment value joy and fun to stakeholders then we successfully nurture our brands, particularly Coca-Cola.
For the love of life – I do not consume Coca-Cola
Because they finance war – I do not consume Coca-Cola
I do not consume Coca-Cola – I do not finance death
Porque amo la vida - No consumo Coca-Cola
Porque financia la guerra – No consumo Coca-Cola
No consumo Coca-Cola – No financia la muerte
Consumer boycotts often have the feel of slightly woolly-liberal ‘campaigns’. There’s something that feels a bit naff about these minor shop-oriented interventions. Maybe it’s the idea that it’s limiting to still have yourself defined as a consumer? But the boycott Coca-Cola campaign has the potential to radicalise the whole idea of ‘the boycott’ and it’s a unifying challenge for the anti-capitalist movement. At the same time it’s a rallying call for the international union movement, so often a sham for pay-differentials and dodgy-compromise.
There’s the opportunity for ANTI-COKE to give iconic focus and practical solidarity on a global-scale.
Forget Enron or world.com – this company is the universal symbol of American imperialism. Maybe only MacDonald’s stands higher in global profile.
There’s a few weeks to go to build things for anti-coke day. In Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee actions are happening on Saturday 13th September at 1pm. As part of a global day of action against corporate power and the policies of the WTO, GR Scotland is supporting a demonstration and boycott of Coca Cola. But you don’t have to be a member of Globalise Resistance to take part or take action. Fill supermarket trolleys with Coke goods wheel them to the checkout and abandon them. Direct Action – it’s the real thing…
Remember, Coke is (sh)it:
• In the the state of Kerala, India, Coca Cola have built a huge bottling factory which extracts 1.5 million litres of water a day leaving local farmers without water. Also, local people cannot drink the water from their wells because it is now contaminated.
• In other countries as well such as Guatemala, the Philipines, Pakistan, India, Israel and Venezuela, social movements have denounced Coca-Cola for utilizing, directly or through their affiliates, violence; violation of labour laws; abuse; and the participation and financing of opposition movements against democratically elected governments to achieve their profits
• But the main focus of the campaign in Columbia is for the murder of 9 workers, the exile of 2 the forced displacement of 48, the death of 48, death threats against 67 and the unjust imprisonment of more than 16 workers
Boycott Coca Cola
Saturday 13th Sept, 1pm
GLASGOW St Enochs Square
DUNDEE city square
EDINBURGH Bristo Square