Thursday, March 16, 2006

What are we griping about?

The question I am asked the most when I tell people that we are working to get Coca-Cola removed from the Academy is, quite simply, why? What has this respected international corporation done to draw our ire? Let me take some time to begin explaining.

In Colombia, the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) is a rightist paramilitary group that does not act within the boundaries of national or international law. The human rights organizations say that the group is probably responsible for around three quarters of all political murders in Colombia. This brings us to Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola has several bottling plants in Colombia. They do not directly own these plants, which is a good way for them to distance themselves from human rights abuses that occur at such plants. However, Coca-Cola has contracts with these plants, which are controlled by a corporation called Coca-Cola FEMSA. The Coca-Cola Company is the plurality share-holder for FEMSA, so FEMSA is essentially a shadow organization controlled by the larger company.

There has been a long history of human rights abuses against union organizers and participants at these bottling plants. Eight union leaders are confirmed as being murdered by the paramilitary. Hundreds of others have been tortured, "disappeared", and threatened by the paramilitary. They are told to abandon the unions or face death.

Workers have described witnessing meetings between plant management and paramilitary leaders in which the soldiers walked out of the plant with supplies of Coca-Cola. This leads to the accusation that the plant managers have conspired with the paramilitary forces to repress unions. The Coca-Cola Company refuses to allow an independent investigation and there exists a danger to the lives of thousands of workers in Colombia. Therefore, as a Jesuit school professing to support Catholic Social Teaching, it is our duty to refuse to associate with a company complicit in assassinations as well as in continuing the cycle of poverty in Latin America and elsewhere.

We'll bring you more details (and sources) later. Right now I'm already late for 1st period.

When they came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews, I did not speak out; I was not a Jew.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.

-Martin Niemoller


Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys are awesome!

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think its great how you're getting the school involved. There are so many people who never heard about this, and now want to help. Keep going, you guys can do it!!!!!!

8:36 PM  
Blogger Thomas Paine said...

To Anonymous #3, your comment has been removed. I couldn't care less if you think we are "ignorant" but your racial slurs will not be tolerated. You can find another website throw around ethnic insults.

P.S. - You should "litteral" use a spell-checker next time. Just a suggestion.

4:54 PM  

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