Massive Support for Coca-Cola Campaign at World Social Forum

For Immediate Release
January 30, 2005

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

Porto Alegre, Brazil (January 30, 2005): In a significant show of international support for the International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable, over 500 activists from around the world packed the workshop on the campaign at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil on January 29, 2005. The workshop was one of the most popular workshops at the World Social Forum.

A pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations in India. Communities living around Coca-Cola bottling plants in India are facing severe water shortages and the groundwater and soil has been contaminated as a direct result of Coca-Cola's practices. Coca-Cola is also accused of distributing toxic waste to farmers and selling contaminated drinks in India.
Coke Rally at Mehdiganj, Jan 2005
Edgar Paez (L) and Nandlal Master Photo:India Resource Center

Coca-Cola is charged with complicity in the murder, torture and intimidation of trade union members in Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. The trade union SINALTRAINAL organizes workers in Coca-Cola bottling facilities in Colombia, and its members and their families have been subject to a gruesome cycle of violence - including murder, torture and kidnapping - unleashed by Colombian paramilitary forces, in complicity with Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling subsidiary.

Speakers included Nandlal Master, a community leader from Mehdiganj in India leading a campaign against Coca-Cola's abuses in the villages and Edgar Paez, the international affairs director of Sinaltrainal in Colombia, also spearheading the campaign against Coca-Cola's crimes in Colombia. Other speakers included Mukta Srivastava and Sandeep Pandey from the National Alliance of People's Movements in India, Karl Flecker from the Polaris Institute in Canada, Berta Joubert Cici from Puerto Rico and Amit Srivastava of the bi-national (US, India) India Resource Center.

The three hour session, which was translated into English, Hindi, Portuguese and Spanish, promises to considerably strengthen the international campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable. The audience was primarily activists from around the world, and most signed up to become part of the campaign by organizing activities in their local areas after returning from the World Social Forum. The campaign was also part of a large demonstration on January 26, attended by over 100,000 activists from around the world during the opening session.

The International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable is one of the key struggles internationally that links labor rights, human rights and environmental justice, and as a result, the campaign is enjoying widespread support from social movements around the world.

The India Resource Center is organizing a speaking tour of the United States in April to bring attention to Coca-Cola's crimes in India, Colombia and internationally. The tour will coincide with Coca-Cola's annual shareholders meeting in April 2005.
Coke Rally at Mehdiganj, Jan 2005
Rally at World Social Forum Photo:India Resource Center

Sponsors of the workshop included Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (US), Coca-Cola Virudha Samara Samiti (India), Colombia Solidarity Campaign (UK), Global Resistance (International), India Resource Center (India, US), Indigenous Environmental Network (Americas) , International Labor Rights Fund (US), Lok Samiti (India), National Alliance of People's Movements (India), Plachimada Solidarity Committee (India), Polaris Institute (Canada), Red de Solidaridad International, Red de Hermandad Europea, SINALTRAINAL (Colombia), United Steelworkers of America (US).

For more information and regular updates, visit www.IndiaResource.org


Coke Rally at WSF, Jan 2005
March at World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil Photo:India Resource Center

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