Coca-Cola Unionists Killed in Colombia

August 4, 2002

On July 22, trade unionists and human rights activists organized a rally at Coca-Cola's headquarters in Atlanta to denounce the company's collusion with paramilitary forces who have been systematically assassinating union members and leaders at Coke's bottling plants in Colombia.

The July 22 picket is part of an ongoing international campaign initiated by Sinaltrainal, the Colombian Food Industry Worker's Union. Over the past 6 years dozens of union members and leaders have been assassinated (the most recent victim was Oscar Dario Polo Soto killed this year in the Bucaramenga plant), kidnapped or had to leave their jobs and towns.

Dozens of human rights groups have documented how the paramilitary death squads responsible for these murders are directly organized by the Colombian army and U.S. multinational corporations. This strategy of terror against the union movement is a vital part of Plan Colombia through which the Colombian government and U.S. imperialism hope to crush the evergrowing popular movement in Colombia.

Sinaltrainal's international campaign against Coke has included several tours of the U.S. by Colombian union leaders who have talked with thousands of U.S. unionists and human rights activists. The campaign also includes a law suit against Coca-Cola filed in a Florida court with the support of the United Steelworkers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund.