iD magazine - - Current Events -

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.

As a re­sult of the vi­o­lence against la­bor union­ists, the num­ber 81%of mem­bers de­creased by in some parts of Colom­bia.

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