Coca Cola: A Hero to the Land, A hero to the People.
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Coca Cola: A Hero to the Land, A hero to the People.

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John Ahni Schertow
June 8, 2007
 

We are told by Classical Western mythology that a hero is a being of great strength and courage, celebrated for bold exploits, and who is the offspring of no less than a mortal and a god.

Coca-Cola doesn’t quite fit this profile, I know. But if we change a few words–courage to audacity and strength to compulsion– I think we’ll find Coca Cola standing tall and proud. A hero among Men.

From oneworld.net – The Coca-Cola company has been charged with illegally seizing lands communally owned by small farmers and indiscriminately dumping sludge and other industrial hazardous waste onto the surrounding community. This comes as the multinational beverage giant announced a new effort Tuesday to protect rivers on four continents.

The San Francisco-based India Resource Center, an environmental health non-profit, further charged Coca-Cola with releasing untreated wastewater into surrounding agricultural fields and a canal that feeds into the Ganges River in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (source)

Being charged more than once for dumping it’s waste and degrading the environment, Coca-Cola is also known well for it’s human rights crimes.

From the Hold Coke Responsible Petition – The most striking examples {…} come from Colombia, where paramilitaries have murdered eight union members from Coca-Cola bottling plants since 1989 (the most recent killing was in 2002). Union members still live under the constant threat of kidnapping, torture and death. There is ample evidence that the paramilitaries carry out these killings in collaboration with the bottling plant managers, with the goal of eliminating labor organizing. Union leader Isidro Gil was shot dead at the gates of the Carepa bottling plant on December 5, 1996; two months earlier the manager was seen meeting with a paramilitary commander in the plant’s cafeteria. According to union members, the paramilitaries returned to the plant a week later and forced all workers to sign a statement resigning from the union.

“Coke has a long history of being a virulently antiunion company,” notes American University anthropology professor Lesley Gill. “[Antiunion violence] has been calculated and targeted, and it usually takes place during periods of contract negotiations.” A delegation led by New York City Council member Hiram Monserrate visited Colombia in 2004 and documented 179 “major human rights violations” against Colombian Coca-Cola workers. Coca-Cola employees in Indonesia and Turkey have also experienced violence when trying to organize. (Source: The Nation, 5/2006).

Coca Cola was also spotlighted in the Sudan recently, when at a news conference the country’s ambassador–holding a coke bottle up to the audience–threatened to cut off the world’s supply of gum arabic in response to what’s been going on there: “I want you to know that the gum arabic which runs all the soft drinks all over the world, including the United States, mainly 80 percent is imported from my country.” “I can stop that gum arabic and all of us will have lost this,” “but I don’t want to go that way.” (Source. See here, here, and here for what’s been happening in Sudan.)

THE COLA CONQUEST

Here’s the final segment of a three-part documentary titled “the Cola Conquest…”

Tea spills in China, wine in France and blood in Guatemala, as Coca-Cola teaches the world to acquire a taste for “The Real Thing.” But as Coke – and Pepsi – are busy abroad conquering new markets, upstart colas are nipping at their heels back home. From the jungles of Papua New Guinea to the “Coca-Cola Olympics” in Atlanta, we see the globalization of American pop culture, and corporate influence on the souls of nations.

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