Coca-Cola: A Drink that Refreshes or Kills?


Coke's Crimes
in Colombia

Coke's Crimes
in India

Coke's Crimes
in Turkey

Student Campaigns






1941 ad that appeared in National Geographic

Advertisment in Oregon
In 2004 Coca-Cola earned $4.85 billion in profits, but in the meantime the company hasn’t taken responsibility for its crimes.(1) If Coke manages to evade legal prosecution, the company should still choose to correct its abuses. United Students Against Sweatshops lists these seven requests by Colombian workers:

1. Acknowledgement of the facts.
2. Public statements denouncing the violence.
3. A human rights committee.
4. Investigation by an outside group and training.
5. An address of the impact of anti-union violence.
6. Cessation of criminal charges against workers.
7. Compensation for victims.

United Students Against Sweatshops also lists six requests by Indian workers:

1. Shut down the plants in Plachimada, Mehdiganj, and Kala Dela.
2. Compensate the affected community members.
3. Recharge the depleted water.
4. Clean up the contaminated soil and water.
5. Ensure that the workers who were laid off because Coke plants were closed due to the company’s negligence are compensated and relocated.
6. Admit to the long term effect of the pesticide in drinks and the toxic waste.

Coke claims that it has responded to these requests by such actions as allowing the International Labor Organization to conduct an independent investigation. But groups like United Students Against Sweatshops and Killer Coke say that this isn’t enough, especially considering one of Coke’s vice-presidents sits on the board.

Many have suggested that the only solution is for Coke to take responsibility for everything it has been accused of. Of course that would be the best solution, but the likelihood of Coke doing so is low. Coke is instead fighting back with TV ads and newspaper ads in student papers. The ad publicity is now costing $2.4 billion.(2) But Americans have to remember that what we as Americans do here in the US impacts people in foreign countries. It’s easy for us to drink Coke and not think about union workers in Colombia being killed, etc., but in the meantime we have to remember that Coke, as an American business, is harming citizens in other countries. Not only does this give the United States a bad name, but we need to hold our businesses accountable.

For those of us who don’t like what Coke is doing overseas, we can take small actions to support the campaign against Coke. First we can stop drinking Coke products; for a complete list of Coke products click on this link: Second, if you are part of the Mount Holyoke Community you can sign the petition against coke: Or if you would like to petition against Coke on your own campus go to to get more information on how to plan your campaign.

(1) United Students Against Sweatshops.

(2) Blanding, Michael. “The Case Against Coke,” The Nation, May 1, 2006,

This website was created for World Politics at Mount Holyoke College.
Last updated May 17, 2006
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