Saturday, April 29, 2006

Rally for Human Rights in Darfur

Another Magis group asked us to post this information. I think that it's a really important issue that has been largely ignored by the U.S. mainstream media.


Make Your Voice Heard

When: Monday, May 1, 2006, 4:30 PM
Where: Federal Plaza, Chicago, IL

Featuring elected officials, religious and other community and human rights leaders.

Over 400,000 people have been killed during the current genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Millions more are at risk. We need to act now to help put an end to the killing.

This rally is being organized by the Chicago Coalition to Save Darfur.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Your Efforts Have Not Gone Unnoticed

We've dealt with our fair share of pessimism throughout this campaign. We have had a few setbacks and technical difficulties. Sometimes it is overwhelming to think that we are taking on one of the largest corporations on the planet. I can understand why people would question whether or not we have the power to change things around Loyola.

I have some exciting news for you: what you are doing is working! Administrators are taking notice of the student solidarity that the campaign has brought about. Your participation has caused ripple effects throughout the entire school. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cafeteria and in the vending machines throughout the school. Normally, when the school goes to restock vending machines, Coca-Cola is the better seller. The machines are emptier as testimony to the fact that Coca-Cola products are purchased more frequently than other brands.

Recently, however, Susie and the caf staff have reported a drop in sales of Coca-Cola in school vending machines and a rise in Pepsi sales. This is no coincidence. The student-led boycott of Coca-Cola is picking up steam and people are noticing.

These "people" include representatives of the Coca-Cola Company. They have noticed the drop in sales at Loyola and are preparing to respond. One representative of the company reportedly has heard of the protest and wants to come speak at Loyola. Rest assured, should a spokesman for the Coca-Cola Company set foot on campus, we will respond. And our voices will be louder than the propaganda machine. We are blasted with advertisements from companies like Coca-Cola every day in an attempt to get us to develop a brand loyalty. When consumers begin to question corporate BS as we have, companies get scared.

Just remember this: they can't shut us up! Loyola Academy does not belong to corporations looking to profit; it belongs to us. If Coca-Cola thinks that we will abandon our morals for their product, they are in for a major disappointment. Keep up the great work and keep spreading the word!

"You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind."
-Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, April 22, 2006


It's hard to believe that T, Thomas Paine, and I will graduate in less than a month. It seems like just yesterday that I was a freshman who couldn't find his English class. A reader left a comment under one of the posts concerning the future of Loyola, and what happens after my partners and I graduate. To begin, I would like to state that although we graduate soon, we will be continuing our campaign up until graduation, as well as beyond. Thomas Paine, T, and I may no longer be students at Loyola, but we will still make our presence known, especially right here on this website. I have also began interviewing several juniors who have shown an interest in being the leaders of the campaign after we graduate. We have not yet chosen anyone among the applicants, but we will announce their names here as soon as we do. If anyone from the class of 2007 or beyond is interested, there is still time to apply. Please email me at if you would like to be considered. The future is looking bright here at Loyola Revolution, and I promise each and every one of you that my partners and I will not be silenced, no matter where we are next year.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hot off the Presses

The local media may not be covering the Coca Cola Controversy, but at least the Loyola Prep is. Last week, the school newspaper featured my letter to the editor concerning the campaign. I am also working on getting published in some local newspapers. Those of you living in Wilmette, Winnetka, Norridge, Skokie, Niles, Mt Prospect, Mundelein, Park Ridge, and Northbrook, should check your local newspapers throughout the month of May for my articles. Due to the length of my article in the Loyola Prep, I have decided to put it in the 'comments' sections of this post, rather than post the entire thing here. The editors chose to censor certain parts of my article in the paper, but you will find the complete uncensored version here. All are free to read it, as well as make comments, ask questions, or complain in the comments section. I would like to once again repeat our policy of not deleting anyone's comments, so feel free to speak your mind. Finally, I would like to thank Teddy Powers '07 (editor-in-chief) and Mrs. Gombac (Moderator), who made the entire thing possible.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We have reached a turning point

Despite some technical difficulties, our presentations today were very successful. About 750 students have signed the petition to remove Coca-Cola from Loyola Academy. That represents a third of the entire school. The Marillac Room was so full some periods that we had to turn away people because there just wasn't enough room. Thanks to all who sat on the floor and endured the heat to hear us.

Over the course of the next week and a half, Tom, Dan, and I will figure out what further steps to take. We will meet again with the Loyola administration and bring your signatures to them. This campaign has gained lots of momentum thanks to your efforts. We have the power to create change, and Coca-Cola will realize this and be forced to address our concerns.

Of course, there will always be those who try to stop what we're doing. What comes to mind are the people who wrote fictitious names on the petition. It really disappoints me that certain people didn't have the courage to speak up about their concerns and instead took the coward's route by writing false names on our petition. We're fighting an uphill battle here, in many senses, because Coca-Cola has pervaded our everyday lives. Coke products are there wherever you look. But no matter how many advertisements they buy, how many bottles they sell, or how well-known they become, you still have your own free will, and they can never take that away from you. That is why the voices of normal high school students can reach a critical volume too loud to ignore. That is what is happening at Loyola.

Thank you to everyone who came today. Keep up the good work, and have a good break.

"It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action."
-Marian Wright Edelman

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Flight 280 to Chicago

I spent this past weekend in Boston for a college visit. The flight to Boston was a United Airlines flight, which serves Pepsi products, but the flight back was AirTran airways. When the flight attendant, named Tiffany, asked me what I would like to drink, I asked her for a Pepsi. She replied, "Would Coke be okay." I explained to her the situation with Coca Cola, and she was amazed at what I told her. There was nothing she could do though, as she explained that Coca Cola products were the only non-alcoholic beverages they had.

Thus, I looked at her, smiled, and said, "In that case, I'll have a Bud Light." Needless to say, I was thirsty for the rest of the flight.

A little later on, Tiffany returned to my seat with another flight attendant named Aisha (I guessed on the spelling). Tiffany had told her about the Coca Cola Controversy, and Aisha wanted to hear about it directly from me. Before I knew it, I had managed to distribute our web address to the flight attendants and a dozen passengers around me, as everyone was amazed by what I was doing at Loyola. Tiffany told me that she would tell her supervisor about the Coca Cola Controversy the next time she saw him. We may be fighting to kick Coca Cola out of Loyola, but that doesn't mean we can't kick it out of AirTran airways too.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More pictures from Tuesday night

I was able to extract these from the video that Dave shot.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Pictures from the Presentation

We got 108 signatures on our petition to remove Coke from the school on the first night. If you missed the presentation and want to sign, ask Dan, Tom or I and we'll take care of it. Also, if you signed up Tuesday night to receive mailings, you should have gotten a confirmation email. Just follow the instructions so that you are place on our mailing list.

Here are some pictures taken Tuesday night:

We attracted a crowd of about 125 people.

Dan didn't pull any punches with his speech.

We introduced our formal petition to remove Coca-Cola products from Loyola Academy on Tuesday night.

Answering questions.

Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Behind the Scenes of the April 4th Presentation

Normally, here at, we speak of serious matters in our constant search for justice. However, just for this one post, I think we can allow ourselves a bit of comedy. The presentation on April 4th to the Dumbachs was a success in every single way, but it came extremely close to being a disaster. This is the behind the scenes story that even my partners, Thomas Paine and T, have not yet heard:

To begin, Mr. McNulty was no where to be found after school. This had been a problem, because I had just learned that my laptop is not compatible with the wireless internet of the school. Thus, I began asking several teachers if they would be able to lend me their laptops. Once I finally had a compatible computer, I went to the theatre to set up, only to learn that Mr. McNulty was already there with his computer all set up. The problems did not end there though, as the videos, which we streamed off the internet, took a ridiculously long time to load. Mr. McNulty and I began freaking out, as it was only ten minutes until the presentation was set to start, and the videos were not ready. We decided to restart the process of streaming the videos, and luckily, it worked, as all the videos were ready in time.

T (Tom Clifford) had been in charge of the food, and the set up of the cafeteria. The only problem was that we couldn't set up the cafeteria, because it had been locked. We stood there waiting with the food, until finally the doors were opened for us. Also, the flyers which the Dumbachs received before the presentation, brought many problems with them. The copier which we had planned on using broke, and we were on our out to Kinkos, until Mr. Hooker helped us and made copies for us in the teacher's room.

Once the flyers, food, and videos were all ready, we had the problem of the audio with the video. We were unable to hook the computer up to sound system, so Mr. McNulty improvised and brought the extra microphone to the speaker on the computer. It wasn't perfect, but it got the job done. Seconds before the Dumbachs walked in, we were finally ready. Mr. McNulty and I may have missed dinner, but at least the presentation would go as planned.

I wish to thank all those who helped us that night, especially Mr. McNulty, Mr. Hooker, Mr. Wilda, Annette Miller, and that one junior whose name I never learned (the one who volunteered to pass out flyers). All in all, the night was a success. We're looking forward to April 12th. Help spread the word.

Individual Limitations and Focus

We have encountered some questions which have been repeatedly answered. Many people ask why we are focusing on Coca-Cola, instead of the Columbian government. Now, I think Joe, Daniel, and I would all love to see major reform in Columbia. However, our power to do so as Americans is limited. However, we, as Americans, have a tremendous influence on Coca-Cola, because it is an American corporation. Thus, our efforts are going to where we feel they would be more effective.

No one person can solve all of the world's problems. Howeverm each one of us can make a major difference in the world. Working together, we can all improve the Earth. However, our limitations as individuals means we can not focus on everything. As such, Joe, Dan, and I have chosen to focus on Coca-Cola.

We are not looking to destroy Coca-Cola or to have Coca-Cola shut down all the bottling plants. We merely want an independent investigation. We simply seek the truth.

"If ignorance is bliss, then knock the smile off my face" --Zack de La Rocha

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Firestorm

Wow, we have had a firestorm of comments in the past day or so, some supportive and some quite negative. We have seen an exponential increase in site traffic, so we know that somebody is listening out there.

Well, you know what I wrote in the first post on this site: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Gandhi couldn't have said it better. We started off as a relatively ignored school project. There have been plenty of people sneering and laughing at our efforts. If you don't believe me, read some of the comments we have gotten. Some people seem to think that corrupt third world governments absolve corporations of exploitation. What they may not realize is that they have the power to change such corrupt foreign governments by demanding that companies like Coca-Cola conduct their business in those countries by ethical standards. In an age of globalism everything is connected.

I suspect that we will face a fight in the near future. There are those at Loyola, on this website and in the general public that think we're a bunch of crap and would love to impede our work. If a fight is what they want, then it is what they shall receive. We have not deleted or edited any comments by posters on this website. If you disagree with us you are free to share your opinions. But know this:

I promise you: We will not give in, we will not falter, we will not compromise our morals, we will not be intimidated (especially by anonymous posters), and we will not abandon our cause. We will be passionate, we will take risks, we will be courageous, we will speak truth to power, we will raise awareness, and we will move along with our campaign. We will not be silenced.

Oppression can only survive through silence.
-Carmen de Monteflores

How can we prove Colombian paramilitaries are acting in conjunction with Coca-Cola?

Yesterday, a reader left this comment, which I think is worth addressing.

    maybe you could help clarify some parts of this for me, as I was just viewing the frontline clips on their website....but in colombia there was civil war, with left-wing guerrila, and right-wing paramilitaries. Now union leaders, in nature of their job, fall in the leftist wing, as they are attempting to redistribute power/rights/money to the workers. So i think then it is safe to say that the guerrilas and the union leader, although obviously attempting change through far different means, still both have their left-wing views. The paramilitaries (right wing) won a few years back. So isnt possible that since the paramilitaries (associated w/ the ruling gov.) are now in power, are just trying to get rid of all possible remains of left-wing influence in Colombia so that their power is left unchallenged?

This is a great question. The truth is - and I will be straightforward about this - it is very hard to prove that Coca-Cola has participated in these murders, kidnappings and tortures.

Here is what we do know:

1.) Coca-Cola has bottling plants in Colombia that are owned by what I would call "shadow companies". For example, Coca-Cola FEMSA runs several plants in Colombia. The Coca-Cola Co. owns the plurality of shares of FEMSA and licenses them the rights to bottle their product. Because of this, the Coca-Cola Co. holds an immense amount of power over bottling companies.

2.) Union leaders and members have been tortured and killed in Colombia by the paramilitary. One of them, Isidro Gil, was killed shortly after he sent a letter of complaint to the Coca-Cola Co. When it looked like his wife would testify against Coca-Cola, she too was killed by the paramilitary forces.

3.) There have been reports from eyewitnesses about meetings between managers of bottling plants and the paramilitary. While it is impossible to know exactly what was said at these meetings, some claim that the managers sent the paramilitary off with a large amount of their product. The question is - what did these managers receive in return?

4.) Coca-Cola refuses to allow a truly independent investigation into the allegations. They recently requested that the International Labor Organization (ILO) investigate human rights abuses in Colombia. While this might seem like progress, consider these facts:

  • Coca-Cola's Director of Global Labor Relations, Ed Potter, also happens to be the U.S. employer representative to the ILO. Can you imagine hiring a detective to investigate a murder if that detective had ties to one of the suspects? As long as Coca-Cola has employees in the ILO, it cannot call an ILO investigation "independent".
  • Coca-Cola hired a former ILO labor representative and AFL-CIO employee to help with the process. Coca-Cola is paying him a large amount of money. The oppressed workers in Colombia are paying him nothing. Who do you think he will be motivated to side with?
  • When the supposedly "independent" investigation shows up at the bottling plants, the managers have been instructed to allow the investigators to speak with only hand-selected employees. I get the feeling that the employees picked won't have many bad things to say about the company.

5.) Coca-Cola profits from cheap labor in Colombia and elsewhere. Cheap labor lowers the company's costs and raises their profit. When unions are broken up, Coca-Cola benefits.

If union leaders were being murdered in the United States, you can bet that there would be a tireless investigation that would not hesitate to look into the company's ties to the killers. Nobody involved in the investigation would be allowed to be on that company's payroll.

We are demanding that Coca-Cola allow a truly independent, unimpeded investigation by human rights organizations. We're tired of the stonewalling, evasive behavior of the Coca-Cola company. It's time for accountability. It's time for change. Until then, we must stand up to Coca-Cola and continue demanding change.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Some Thank-You's + Tuesday's Event

Thanks to Christine, who pointed out that the front page of Killer Coke's Website now links to our blog. That's great - it makes our site more visible and brings attention to our project. So I'd like to send special thanks out to Killer Coke. They have provided us with information and help whenever we have asked for it. They even designed the flyer you can download on our sidebar. These people are dedicated to bringing about justice.

Speaking of visibility, we are excited to announce that our presentation Tuesday night may attract the attention of the local media. Dan worked with Loyola's PR spokeswoman, Ms. Hunt, to contact local media and issue a press release which we designed. We have received interest from CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX. We have also contacted a few local newspapers. That's another reason why we really need you to come Tuesday night. The more people we get, the more likely it is that the media will pick up our story.

That brings me to the agenda for Tuesday night. Dan will present information on the controversy as well as on what we are trying to accomplish at Loyola Academy. Supplementing his presentation will be the PBS Frontline documentary on the subject. After this presentation, Tom and I will field questions from the audience. We are prepared to spend as much time as you would like to answer your questions. I encourage anyone who has a question to pose it on Tuesday night, especially people who disagree with what we are doing. I will gladly debate any person who believes that removing Coca-Cola products from Loyola Academy is a bad idea. Following all of that, we will pass around petitions calling for the removal of Coca-Cola products from the school until the company cooperates and allows an independent investigation, prosecutes/fires any managers/adminitrators/executives complicit in human rights abuses, and unconditionally provides for the protection and safety of all workers and their families. We will deliver this petition to the Loyola Academy administration, so the more signatures we get, the better.

I really hope to see all of you Tuesday night at 7:30 PM in the auditorium.

Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
-Paolo Freire