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

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is this "truth" you speak of? More liberals trying to stretch things so they can complain?

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I promise you: We will not give in, we will not falter, we will not compromise our morals, we will not be intimidated"

That sure sounds to me like stubborn one-sided thinking that you are absolutely right. To me, that reminds me of Bush's attitude after 9/11 going into Afghanistan/Iraq. Rather than admitting he was wrong, he stuck to his 'morals' and doing what was "right"......look where his cause is now

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowledge is power.

For all going tonight and everyone involved in this, remember that while their presentation may seem like a good idea and a good way to help others, DO NOT FORGET THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISSUE THEY WILL NOT TELL YOU. I think it's very important that everyone sees and hears both arguments before you make a decsion.

Knowledge is Power.

-Max

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well stated Max. It is important to weigh both sides of this argument before going gung-ho with this presentation.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work, don't be afraid to keep going even with these biggots trying to tell you that you are "stretching things". It is people like that that make our country the way it is.

7:07 PM  
Blogger This Is Just To Say said...

I concur, Max. There is another side to this issue, and it is just plain ignorant to believe that everything those fighting against Coca-Cola is true and unbiased. I would be interested in knowing what your solution will be if Coke pulls out and thousands of people are left without jobs. Would these people be happier now that, instead of a little income, they have none at all?

I strongly doubt it.

Come up with a rational solution before you start complaining about problems. There is corruption in Coca-Cola, just as there is in any other multi-national company. However, just bringing it into the public spectre doesn't help anyone. Get all your facts, make sure you listen to both sides of the story, and then come up with a rational solution.

7:14 PM  
Blogger aunt leslie said...

"Anonymous" = "I work for Coca Cola"

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Im Bunky from the myspace group We Need To Make The Difference.

I dont know all the facts. But I hope that you all do.
I respect your efforts very much so, and I totally agree that there is coruption in our world, and there is far more there every should be.

Stay strong with what you believe. Make sure you keep your mind free and ears open. Take in everything.
Best of luck and I hope that all works out for the best.

Sincerely,
Bunky

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan, Tom, and Joe --

After attending your presentations tonight, I must say, first off, that I disagree with your views. However, I'll try to maintain an open mind if you can further defend your cause.

My first question to you is, simply put, why should Coke allow investigators into their facilities? If there is currently a full, on-going investigation into the situation, why should Coke open the possibility of falsely incriminating themselves? Any investigation, whether pro- or anti- Coke (or pro-/anti-union, pro-/anti-ANYTHING) is going to be tremendously influenced by a strong government which terrorizes its people. Why should Coke risk getting a bad rep in a faulty, tainted investigation?

Why attack the big name, Coke, instead of going to the heart of the issue and attacking the government? Shutting down Coke will not only destroy an economy where the most sought after jobs are with Coke, but it will also only solve a small portion of the problem. The government, an extremely conservative militant government – which by definition would be opposed to unions – is the heart of the problem. Workers tend to want to unionize; companies tend to try to prevent it. A strong, right government is going to side with the company opposing the union. Throw in machine guns, blindfolds, and brainwashed terrorists and you have the formula for war. There is a history of civil war in Columbia, ripe with terrorism. Hold a gun to a man’s head and he tends to quickly side with you – and if he doesn’t, hey, just kill him off. The AUC is currently in power (although not recognized, as Max mentioned). Their record proves they don’t lose much sleep over a couple murders here and there. Why does Coke get the bad rap for the corrupt, unjust government’s actions?

You take away Coke, I guarantee you will find another company whose unionized employees are being killed by a strictly conservation government. Don’t pussy foot around the government if you are so insistently opposed to this issue – they’re the enemy. Coke simply is caught up in a mess of the government. Maybe Coke should acknowledge the problem and pull out of Columbia and accept the colossal economic disasters it could case. But letting investigators in is not the solution.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Thomas Paine said...

Max, I'll address you comment tomorrow so be sure to check back then. Thanks for coming tonight even though you disagree. I wish you could have asked a question, because I would love to talk to you about this in person. You have some very legitimate concerns, and I hope that we can address them on our site. In the meantime, I need some sleep so I'll write more later.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you whoever posted two above me, and whoever else before sees this side.

we need to keep on making sure everyone sees both sides. I feel at Loyola that often only one side is shown, and many ignorant people start supporting for the tragedy involved (its easy to attach the murders of union leaders to coke when you are being presented that side of the argument).


as for aunt leslie: if your comment was aimed at me, with the implication that my views are conservative siding with big business you should not be talking.

I am a liberal, and see that my stance is a liberal one. What I am disagreeing with is the target of this group's efforts, especially since it will bring about little change if they succeed. More importantly, however, I am defending Coca-Cola's freedoms (the same way someone would for instance defend an individual being oppressed in a legal battle for their race).....Coke has no need to prove their innocence. Despite this negative publicity, they ARE INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. Last I checked, there was little proof in this argument, as the frontline video states.

If anyone wishes to hear to opposite side of what was presented tonight, please come and talk to me, as I feel I am one of the more outspoken ones in favor of Coke.

Remember, Knowledge is Power, know both sides before you take a stand.


joe- i had to leave early so i unfortunately couldnt ask questions, but also I feel I have too many issues with your cause to say them all tonight.

-Max Blau

11:03 PM  
Blogger T said...

"I concur, Max. There is another side to this issue, and it is just plain ignorant to believe that everything those fighting against Coca-Cola is true and unbiased. I would be interested in knowing what your solution will be if Coke pulls out and thousands of people are left without jobs. Would these people be happier now that, instead of a little income, they have none at all?"

We are not asking that Coca-Cola pull out. We are asking for an independent investigation.

"Come up with a rational solution before you start complaining about problems. There is corruption in Coca-Cola, just as there is in any other multi-national company. However, just bringing it into the public spectre doesn't help anyone. Get all your facts, make sure you listen to both sides of the story, and then come up with a rational solution."

Bringing it to the public's attention does help. It tis the first step to dialogue and solving the problem. We have looked at both sides of the story. Our solution to the dubious circumstances is an independent investigation. The boycott will put pressure on Coca-Cola to allow such an investigation.

"My first question to you is, simply put, why should Coke allow investigators into their facilities?"

In order to find the truth. Certainly, it might not be directly in their best interests. However, we are calling for an independent investigation so that it is not flawed. It is doubtful that the government would influence the investigation on behalf of the workers, so this should not be an issue to Coca-Cola. Our boycot could change what would be in Coca-Cola's best interests, if enough business is at stake.

"Why attack the big name, Coke, instead of going to the heart of the issue and attacking the government?"

We are focusing on Coke because it is an American corporation. As such, we have much more influence on Coca-Cola than the Columbian government. Ideally, we would like to change the Columbian political situation as well, but that is a much more difficult feat from here in the USA.

"Shutting down Coke will not only destroy an economy where the most sought after jobs are with Coke, but it will also only solve a small portion of the problem."

We are NOT trying to shut down Coke. We want an independent investigation!

"You take away Coke, I guarantee you will find another company whose unionized employees are being killed by a strictly conservation government. Don’t pussy foot around the government if you are so insistently opposed to this issue – they’re the enemy. Coke simply is caught up in a mess of the government."

Again, we are not trying to destroy Coke. We are simnply seeking the truth. No companies should be using the political situation in Columbia to their advantage, and we should oppose them all. We will have the most influence if they are American corporations, such as Coca-Cola. As Americans, we have more power to influence Coca-Cola than the Columbian government.

11:13 PM  
Anonymous Christine Hooyman said...

I hope the presentation went well today. I am sorry I was unable to attend, but I’m sure you all did an awesome job.

Anyway, I just have a few things I’d like to say in regards to the Coca Cola issue and some comments I have stumbled upon.

I was astounded to read comments, proclaiming “we are Americans first”. The implication being, that “we” as Americans ought to concern ourselves with issues directly connected to us. What is happening miles away from our home is of no importance to us. Well, I don’t know about you…but I would assume we are all human beings. As such, we all share the common bond of humanity. Manmade or geographical borders do not remove such.

What happens next door, what happens in Chicago, what happens in Florida, what happens in Asia, what happens in Latin America…all these things affect ME. We are all connected and intertwined. Using Coca Cola as an example, by merely purchasing a Coke from the cafeteria I am interacting (although not directly) with everyone who helped that product reach me. This includes the truck drivers transporting the product, to the factory inspectors who checked it.

I, not as an American, but as a human, desire to know exactly what is going on in Coca Cola factories. Perhaps their actions are totally reputable, and this entire issue is a misunderstanding. If so, I would like to know. Conversely, if violations of basic human rights are occurring, as a consumer of their product, I feel a responsibility to know what I am supporting.

Just because Coca Cola is bottled in another continent, does not lessen my responsibility as a consumer. Likewise, just because I can run to the GAP and pick up a t-shirt, does not lessen my responsibility for supporting a company that utilizes sweatshop labour to produce its wears.

This disconnected spirit is quite alarming. I say, lets join together in solidarity. Let us not be separated by geography, language, race or creed. I am perfectly tolerant of those who hold opposite beliefs. I find it perfectly acceptable that my peers are questioning the validity of this site, or perhaps on a more larger scale, the mistreatment of workers in general. However, what I do find unacceptable, is the lack of pursuit for truth. If one is concerned enough to speak for or against such issue, that person should take it upon themselves to be informed to the best of their ability. And where they are lacking, they should attempt to gain knowledge. If Coca Cola has nothing to hide, let us see their factories; let us research their business practices. Whether you believe Coca Cola, or question Coca Cola, we should all have passion for the pursuit of truth and justice.


“We were born to unite with our fellow men, and to join in
community with the human race.” -Cicero

11:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In reply to your reply to my post, t --

Please correct me if I'm wrong -- you want an independent investigation to show whether Coke IS or IS NOT tied to the murders.

Once you find this, the truth, what are you going to do with it?

If Coke is innocent, you go on with your life and Loyola keeps drinking Coke. Great news for all of us.

If Coke is found guilty (they still haven't been), then what do you want to do? Sit on your hands and just point out you've found the truth? Congrats -- you got THE TRUTH! OK, project over?

You obviously go into this situation expecting to find out Coke is guitly -- otherwise this whole fight is a huge waste of time and energy. You expect Coke (and you present it as if Coke already is) to come out the bad guys. Your agenda is to get rid of Coke.

I am NOT saything that if Coke is guilty they should just cover it all up. However, I believe that the issue is not black and white -- there has to be some grey. 40% of the shares, a 3rd world country riddled with guerillas/terrorists, US lead investigations that are (as you say) corrupt from the start -- this is not clear-cut. If it's revealed Coke (and by Coke I am now referring to the bottle-er managers) is somehow involved (and all it takes is one bad manager who doesn't necessarily represent the whole company/bottling pkant), they will be forced to pull out of Columbia (unless you have a better suggestion, with which you still fail to enlighten us). Columbia therefore falls further into economic despair -- from bad to worse.

I'll check back tomorrow to wrap up, sorry to leave a somewhat incomplete post but I'm exhausted.

-B

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christine,

I think you misunderstood my American comment. Here's what it was in response to (joes previous comment)
"As long as we live in America, this statement is FALSE. Coke does NOT have any obligation to prove innocence."

You forget that Loyola Academy is an independent institution and has the right to use its own discretion on matters like this. And when it comes to justice, this school takes human rights VERY seriously. Coca-Cola does not have the right to have vending machines anywhere. Business is a priviledge given to them by their clients and the U.S. government. Coke's clients (such as Loyola) have the right to suspend contracts with the company if they suspect foul play."


He was saying that because of our Loyola education, we should be more or less fall in line with their beliefs on human rights.

I said I was an American first, Loyola student second, in the context that I value my rights and the rights of others (including Coke) over this cause. Supporters believe that this cause of forcing an indepedent should be demanded in the fight for human rights. What I meant by my american comment was that I believe Coke has the right to not be forced into having investigators. as i keep on stressing, the alledged in the US (COKE) is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. (This is where I am an American over a Loyola idealist--in that one's rights should not be circumvented due to skepticism of a certain group).

So Christine I did not mean my comment to say that I believe the US should not be concerned w/the rest of the world. I am a huge supporter of Solidarity. I am American first in protecting one's rights/freedom, which is why I'm against the cause.

I am for improving human rights as i keep stressing, but I feel your guys way is not the right way.

If anyone further wishes to know about my views on this, please talk to me.

-Max Blau

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Christine Hooyman said...

Max, my response was not directed at you as an individual. Rather, I was addressing a mindset that I believe is prevalent throughout Loyola, my peers and the American people in general.

Joe was absolutely right that Loyola Academy takes human rights seriously. As a Catholic institution, we are called to do so. By following Catholicism and living by the guidelines set out by numerous CST (Catholic Social Teaching), there is no way in which we cannot work for human rights.

As a client, consumer or purchaser of a product, we ourselves engage in a relationship with the seller, vender, corporation and company. Through our money, we are supporting such said institutions. To me, this translates into responsibility. I do not want to spend my money, supporting any company whose practices I disagree with—for moral reasons or for product quality. Therefore, as a consumer of Coca Cola product, I feel a need to inform myself to the best of my ability. Yes, I believe in the principle “Innocent until proven guilty”—I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. I further believe, however, that when a strong and potentially plausible opposition is proposed, such organization has the responsibility to prove otherwise. Coca Cola has done nothing of the sort. If Coca Cola is not responsible for the hundreds of alleged human rights abuses, then they should do everything in their power to disprove such allegations. It would make sense. Why would a large, powerful corporation ignore such an important issue? Why would they not allow independent investigations to occur, to prove dissenters wrong? Their lack of commitment and desire to prove otherwise is quite alarming. Coca Cola should not be forced to do anything—it holds rights as a corporation. However, when feeling pressure from many of its consumers and buyers, it should feel a need to disprove such persons so as to not lose profits.

Not to steer this in another direction, but lets consider sweatshops. Nike Corporations utilizes some of the worst sweatshop labour in the world. They do not deny such allegations; merely claim they pay a living wage relative to the currency standard. However, when reporters travel to these sweatshops, trying to get a glimpse at these supposed safe, ethical factories, they are turned away. When Nike representatives are called, asked to comment on their manufacturing process, they do not answer. When it was discovered that in fact, these workers were not receiving a living wage, Nike had no response. Nike factories are secluded, gated and protected. Cameras and reporters are shunned. Why? What exactly does Nike have to hide? If it is such an ethical organization, it should have no problems proving us wrong. It should have no qualms taking up a reporter for an interview. Yet, it refuses to interact with anyone who opposes or questions Nike’s practices.

This is a similar situation at Coca Cola headquarters and organizations. For a company that claims to be ethical and fair, they are acting quite secretive. It begs the question—what are they hiding?

Again, I did not mean this as a personal attack and I apologize if it was read that way. I respect your beliefs, although I disagree. I think having a continuing dialogue is the only way issues like these can truly be addressed and positive steps to resolution can be discovered.


Thank you.
-Christine Hooyman

8:39 AM  
Blogger DanielWozniczka said...

I am Dan, one of the leaders for this cause, and this website (you can find me under the contributers section on our main page) I have kept quiet for some time about the comments, as you all know. I have however, been reading everone's comments. I am going to make a comment that I believe everyone will (or at least should) agree with: If nothing is accomplished through what we are doing, we are at least raising awareness about the issue. This, in itself, is a just cause.

A comment was made that I was showing only one side of the story in my presentation. If this is true, then I just want to say it was unintentional. I had been attempting to show both sides. As those of you who are at Loyola know, I will be doing presentations on April 12th. I encourage you to be specific on any changes that I should make to my speech. Thus, by all means, continue to make comments, or please email me personally at danielwozniczka@hotmail.com. However, I want to repeat, please be specific, as comments such as "biased" or "liberal" will not be helping me. Thanks guys. I appreciate it. And by the way, if you choose to stay anonymous, then at least let us know whether or not you attend Loyola Academy. Thanks again.

-Dan

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Max...

What is more important to you, other human beings around the world, or the laws and structure of our country? Sad if you care more about the rights of a company than the murder and torture of other human beings.

4:26 PM  

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