Speaking Tour Launches Month of Action Against Coca-Cola

For Immediate Release
March 25, 2005

Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center
Email: amit(AT)IndiaResource.org 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 Philadelphia.

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 College.

"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 meeting.

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 factory.

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 of Coca-Cola.

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


About India Resource Center

Press Contacts

Press Releases

Coca-Cola Factsheet



Home | About | How to Use this Site | Sitemap | Privacy Policy

India Resource Center (IRC) is a project of Global Resistance -- "Building Global Links for Justice"
URL: http://www.IndiaResource.org Email:IndiaResource (AT) igc.org