Speaking Tour Launches Month of Action
For Immediate Release
March 25, 2005
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
Tel: 415 336 7584
San Francisco (March 25, 2005): April has been designated
as the month of action against the Coca-Cola company for its crimes
in India and Colombia.
A series of activities will be held around the world in April
to demand justice for communities that are being adversely impacted
by Coca-Cola's practices.
In India, Coca-Cola is guilty of creating severe water shortages, polluting
the soil and groundwater, distributing toxic waste as fertilizer to
farmers, and selling sub-standard drinks in the Indian market which
contain high levels of pesticides, sometimes higher than 30 times
those allowed by European Union standards.
In Colombia, Coca-Cola is charged with complicity in the murder, torture
and intimidation of labor union organizers at Coca-Cola bottling plants.
From April 4-19, a Speaking
Tour to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable will hold public events on
the East Coast, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and
The two week speaking tour will include speakers on both Colombian
and Indian issues, and will end with a demonstration at the Coca-Cola
shareholders meeting on April 19 in Wilmington, Delaware. The speaking
tour will hold events on campuses that have student-led campaigns
to sever ties with Coca-Cola. These include Rutgers University, New
York University, Hofstra University, Georgian Court University, Union
Theological Seminary, Smith College, Haverford College and Swarthmore
"Coca-Cola has had more than enough time to act and it has refused
to do so in a genuine manner. Instead, it has embarked upon a public
relations exercise which it hopes will spin the problems away. We
will remind Coca-Cola's shareholders and potential investors that
the company has serious outstanding liabilities in India and Colombia
that are not being adequately represented in their accounting books",
said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, one of the groups
organizing the speaking tour and the demonstration at the shareholders
In addition to the activities in the US, groups in the United Kingdom
are also gearing up to tell Coca-Cola to clean up its act. The largest
trade union in the UK, Unison, has called for a week of action targeting
Coca-Cola from April 10-16. Student groups in both the US and UK will
also be holding local actions against Coca-Cola in April.
April 22 will also mark the third year anniversary of the constant
vigil that has been kept by community groups outside Coca-Cola's factory
gates in Plachimada, Kerala in India. The bottling plant remains shut
down since March 2004 because the local village council is refusing
to renew Coca-Cola's license to operate, citing it as a nuisance to
the community. Actions against Coca-Cola will also take place in Kerala
to commemorate the significant community victory over Coca-Cola.
Community groups in Colombia and India, along with their supporters
internationally, have stepped up their activities against Coca-Cola
in the last six months. Over a thousand villagers marched to Coca-Cola's
factory gates in Mehdiganj in India in November 2004 to demand the
plant's closure. [Coca-Cola claims only 150 people attended the rally
and the India Resource Center will be showing film and images during
the speaking tour to prove Coca-Cola wrong]. And on March 23, to mark
World Water Day, over 1,000 protesters showed up at the gates of Coca-Cola's
factory in Plachimada, India, to demand the permanent closure of the
Students from the US and UK have also won significant victories, including
successful resolutions being passed against Coca-Cola by student governments
at the University of Michigan, Middlesex University, University of Bristol
and the Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan.
Most recently, the student government of the Union Theological Seminary,
a graduate school of theology in Manhattan, voted to endorse kicking
Coke off- campus, and the Graduate Student Association of Rutgers
University, with more than 50,000 students, voted to endorse the boycott
At the University of Michigan, the student government representing
25,000 students, passed a resolution finding Coca-Cola guilty of crimes
in Colombia and India. The vote followed a public debate between top
ranking Coca-Cola officials and representatives from the India Resource
Center and the Colombian union, Sinaltrainal.
"2005 will be a difficult year for Coca-Cola," said Amit Srivastava.
National endorsers of the Speaking Tour to Hold Coca-Cola
Accountable include the United Steel Workers of America, United Students
Against Sweatshops, Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, International Labor
Rights Fund, Indigenous Environmental Network, Global Resistance,
Colombia Peace Project, Colombia Action Network, Public Citizen, North
American Alliance for Fair Employment and India Resource Center.
For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org