Demanda Coca-cola

10 de septiembre de 2001

Coca-cola (coke) to be sued for human rights abuses in colombia

United Steel Workers
International Labor Rights Fund

Coke Bottling Plants in Colombia Use Paramilitary Security Forces to Murder, Torture, and Kidnap Trade Union Leaders

Coke Controls All Aspects of Production and Operation of its Bottling Plants and Allows Local Managers to Engage in Systematic Human Rights Abuses

The United Steel Workers Union and the International Labor Rights Fund will file suit tomorrow, July 20, in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida (Miami) against Coke and Panamerican Beverages, Inc., the primary bottler of Coke products in Latin America. Additional defendants include owners of a bottling plant in Colombia where trade union leaders have been murdered. The case was initiated by SINALTRAINAL, the trade union that represents workers at the Coke facilities in Colombia. SINALTRAINAL has long maintained that Coke is among the most notorious employers in Colombia and that the company maintains open relations with murderous death squads as part of a program to intimidate trade union leaders. The union is using the filing of this case on July 20, Colombian Independence Day, to renew its campaign to highlight that Colombia holds the terrible distinction of being ranked number one in the world for the number of trade union leaders murdered each year, and that Coke plays a key role in maintaining that distinction.

Other Plaintiffs include the Estate of Isidro Segundo Gil, a trade union leader who was murdered while working at the Coke bottling plant in Carepa, Colombia. The manager of that facility, owned by an American, Richard Kirby, who is also a defendant in this case, specifically threatened to kill the leaders of the union if they continued their union activities. He made good on the threat and ordered the murder of Mr. Gil. The other Plaintiffs are Luis Eduardo Garcia, Alvaro Gonzalez, José Domingo Flores, Jorge Humberto Leal and Juan Carlos Galvis, all leaders of SINALTRAINAL, and, while employed by Coke, were subjected to torture, kidnapping, and/or unlawful detention in order to encourage them to cease their trade union activities. These Plaintiffs allege that Coke employees either ordered the violence directly, or delegated the job to paramilitary death squads that were acting as agents for Coke.

"This case is extremely important for trade union and human rights. If we cannot get Coke, one of the most well known companies in the world, to protect the lives and human rights of the workers at its world-wide bottling facilities, then we certainly have a long way to go in making the global economy safe for trade unionists, " said Daniel Kovalik, Assistant General Counsel of the Steelworkers and co-counsel for the Plaintiffs. "While the offenses detailed in the Complaint occurred in an industry outside the Steelworkers' core jurisdiction, we are filing this case to show our solidarity with the embattled trade unions of Colombia. We absolutely must stand up together to stop such criminal activity against our union brothers and sisters regardless of where or in what industry it occurs." he added.

"The case is very strong from a legal perspective," said Terry Collingsworth, general counsel of the DC-based International Labor Rights Fund, who is co-counsel for the Plaintiffs, and who has brought similar cases against Exxon Mobil and Unocal Corporation for human rights violations in Aceh, Indonesia and Burma, respectively. "There is no question that Coke knew about and benefited from the systematic repression of trade union rights at its bottling plants in Colombia, and this case will make the company accountable," he stated.

The case is based on the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), a law passed by Congress in 1789 aimed at protecting the new nation's international reputation by enabling non-citizens to use federal courts to hold Americans accountable for violations of international law. "The Plaintiffs allege that Coke and the other defendants violated clear standards of international law by maintaining a willful campaign of terror against members and leaders of SINALTRAINAL," explained Dan Kovalik, who interviewed many of the Coke victims in Colombia.

In addition to pursuing legal remedies in federal court, the Steelworkers and the International Labor Rights Fund join with SINALTRAINAL in asking workers and consumers around the world to send a message to Coke to end the terror at the Coke facilities in Colombia and make reparations to the victims. Contact Coke: Douglas Daft, CEO, One Coca-Cola Plaza, Atlanta GA, 30313

Baje la demanda completa en: http://www.laborrights.org/