WHY WOULD A CORPORATION MOVE INTO A WAR ZONE?
For more than 50 years now a gruesome civil war has raged in Colombia—and one of the most hotly contested battlegrounds is the Urabá region, two hours north of Medellín by car. It is a dangerous place, which has been controlled by right-wing paramilitaries for years. So it’s surprising to come across a modern Coca- Cola bottling center in the middle of this war zone… It invites the question: Why would a corporation be attracted to an area that’s embroiled in a civil war? One obvious answer: Being far from any governmental control makes it easy to make your own rules. Numerous reports have revealed that in Urabá a coalition of paramilitaries and the operator of the bottling facility have established a sort of reign of terror. The goal: decrease wages, deprive workers of rights, and abolish labor unions. In order to achieve this goal, the death squads of the right-wing paramilitary groups have acted like company-controlled special forces divisions, intimidating any rebellious workers and even going so far as to murder members of labor unions. Nonetheless Coca- Cola has denied involvement in the matter and was even officially vindicated by a U.S. court. But the fact is: Just last year workers at the Coca- Cola bottling plant north of Bogotá felt compelled to go on a hunger strike after they had denounced working conditions in the plants in vain—and found that there was no one they could contact.
VIOLENT SHAKEDOWN Urabá is one of the regions that have been most fiercely contested during Colombia’s civil war. But that’s precisely where corporations like the Coca-cola Company are active. No coincidence! The suspicion is that large corporations are p
As a result of the violence against labor unionists, the number 81%of members decreased by in some parts of Colombia.