More Than 500 Protest Coca-Cola at World Social Forum
Amit Srivastava, Global Resistance +91 9892 239 439 amit(AT)igc.org
January 19, 2004
Sujani K. Reddy, Global Resistance +91 22 33661947 skr205(AT)nyu.edu
Mumbai, India: Coca-Cola is in trouble. In a historic march on January
18, 2004, over 500 protesters marched and rallied to condemn Coca-Cola's
operations in India. Protesters, including over 150 residents who
live in and around Coca-Cola's bottling facilities in India, were
joined by a large group of international supporters at the World Social
Forum in Mumbai. The events were organized under the banner of People's
Forum against Coca-Cola.
The protest drew attention to a pattern that has emerged among Coca-Cola's
Indian bottling plants. Three communities in India - Plachimada in
Kerala, Wada in Maharashtra and Mehdiganj in Uttar Pradesh - are experiencing
severe water shortages as a result of Coca-Cola's mining of the majority
of common groundwater resources around its facilities. And the multinational's
indiscriminate dumping of wastewater into the ground has polluted
the scarce water that remains. In Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu, residents
are opposing a proposed Coca-Cola facility because of fears that they
too will face water shortages and pollution.
"Coca-Cola's actions are symbolic of the vulgar arrogance and criminal
power of corporations that are looting people of their basic needs,
water in this case," said Medha Patkar, coordinator of the National
Alliance of People's Movements. "Our right to water, land and forests
is at stake and we have to build an international alliance to battle
the multinationals," added Ms. Patkar.
The march and rally launched an international campaign to hold Coca-Cola
accountable for its actions. Javier Correa, president of SINALTRAINAL,
addressed India's Coca-Cola affected communities, declaring that,
"Colombians affiliated to SINATRAINAL will unite with Indian communities'
struggle for truth, justice and reparations." SINALTRAINAL union leaders
and organizers of workers at the Colombian Coca-Cola bottling subsidiary
have been subject to a gruesome cycle of violence in Colombia. Many
have been murdered, kidnapped and tortured by Colombian paramilitary
Tests of Coca-Cola products in the Indian market in September 2003
confirmed the presence of pesticides in the soft drinks, sometimes
30 times higher than those allowed by the European Union standards.
The government of India has initiated an inquiry into the findings
and the parliament of India has actually banned the sale of Coca-Cola
and Pepsico products in the cafeteria.
"This is a classic case of double standards by Coca-Cola," said Amit
Srivastava, coordinator of US based Global Resistance. "Coca-Cola
thinks that it can get away by abusing communities in India and selling
sub-standard products in India. We are ready to bring the battle to
the US, to Coca-Cola's home turf," he continued. The international
campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable has planned a series of events
in the US to force Coca-Cola to clean up its act.
Sponsors of the People's Forum against Coca-Cola include Coca-Cola
Virudha Janakeeya Samara Samithy (Kerala), Joint Action Council Against
Sakthi -Coke in Sivagangai (Tamil Nadu), National Alliance of Peoples
Movements (India), SINALTRAINAL (Colombia), Colombia Action Network
(US), Colombia Demand Justice Campaign (Australia), Chilean Popular
and Indigenous Network (Chile), Global Resistance (US), Campaign to
Stop Killer Coke/Corporate Campaign, Inc. (US) and Colombia Solidarity
For background information on Coca-Cola, visit www.IndiaResource.org
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