Yesterday, I was walking home from White Plains, NY when on Central Avenue I saw something rather interesting. A local beverage wholesaler by the name of the Leewood Beverage Center ( http://2279673.usdirectory.com/default.htm?wr=1&afid=1517&tbid=1) had signs in their windows that read “Boycott Coke for Unfair Trade Practices”.

Now I knew of the horrible things that Coca-Cola is directly or indirectly responsible for from reading the website Killer Coke (www.killercoke.org), but it was good to see that message hit a hometown wholesaler; who in my opinion has taken a brave huge step that can lead to other actions by others.

From the Killer Coke website:

" We need your help to stop a gruesome cycle of murders, kidnappings and torture of SINALTRAINAL (National Union of Food Industry Workers) union leaders and organizers involved in daily life-and-death struggles at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia."

"In July 2001, the United Steelworkers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund (www.laborrights.org) filed a lawsuit on behalf of SINALTRAINAL, several of its members and the estate of Isidro Gil, one of its murdered officers. The lawsuit and campaign aim to force Coca-Cola to prevent further bloodshed and to provide safe working conditions."

There has been a movement on campuses ( http://www.corporatecampaign.org/killer-coke/student.htm) to get schools to remove Coca-Cola vending machines and they have been successful. Divestment from the corporation’s stock is another option that people should look into.

"Coca-Cola bottlers “contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilize extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders,” the lawsuit states. It also notes that Colombian troops connected with the paramilitaries have trained at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Ga., where trainees were encouraged to torture and murder those who do “union organizing and recruiting;” pass out “propaganda in favor of workers;” and “sympathize with demonstrators or strikes.” This was made public when the Pentagon was forced to reveal the contents of training manuals used at the school. (For more information, see www.soaw.org, the website of SOA Watch.) The year that the lawsuit was filed, The Coca-Cola Co. made $4 billion in profits and paid its CEO, Douglas Daft, more than $105 million. Coca-Cola continues to rake in billions each year, yet the frightening conditions at the Coke plants remain unchanged. Labor unions and human rights advocates in the United States can stop these atrocities at Coca-Cola’s bottling plants."

It would appear that all the Coca-Cola we as Americans drink (and all the other beverages they make) has a much larger price than the dollar or two we pay for a two-liter. The fact that a local small business here in White Plains would create signs to put in their window tells us something. Coca-Cola is also wreaking havoc in India ( http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/index.html). Communities across India are suffering from severe water shortages because Coca-Cola is extracting all their water.

There’s also the pesticide issue ( http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/23/business/worldbusiness/23place.html?hp&ex=1156392000&en=0756e51642632f2d&ei=5094&partner=homepage) that both Coke and Pepsi were a part of.

"The Center for Science and the Environment announced in August (2006) that drinks manufactured by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo in India contained on average more than 24 times the safe limits of pesticides, which could come from sugar, water and other ingredients."

It looks like the Leewood Beverage Center should look to other soda beverage maker’s products to stock their shelves with. But what they’ve done so far is great.