At the beginning of 2010, an extraordinary documentary caught my attention. In Crude, a group of activists campaign and sue Texaco Oil (now Chevron) who during the course of three decades literally laid waste through hundreds of Ecuadorian villages, leaving a legacy of contamination, countless cancer cases and ultimately death. The movie is a ground-level view of one of the most extraordinary legal dramas of our time, one which could set a precedent of how multi-national business is conducted.
Because of this, a movie event was scheduled through my Spanish Peer Speaking Group in order to bring further attention to as many people as I could. Since then, another documentary has also caught my attention, one which people must also be made aware of. In the Coca-Cola Case, a group of lawyers try to bring attention and an end to the myriad of human right violations from an even more unlikely culprit.
The Coca-Cola company (Inc. 1888) is a North American media darling and is currently the brand most recognized in the entire world. A friendly, bright & perennial brand, normally associated with sharing a good time with good friends. They have spend hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve this very goal. So very far removed from the reality of this media empire’s hundreds of alleged kidnappings, torture and murder of union leaders who tried to improve working conditions in Colombia, Guatemala and Turkey. Yet in fact, the non-profit network showcasing this very film, Cinema Politica received a letter from Coca Cola lawyers on Jan. 11th implying the showing of this documentary to be illegal! Come now, you just know, when Goliath is this anxious, it’s because he knows David’s is packing heat.
‘Why would they allow this?‘ If people are dying, why would they look the other way? The answer is terribly simple. It’s greed. Horrible, disgusting, all-encompasing greed. For example, the documentary interviews a number of workers, some of whom earn $15 for 15 hours of physically demanding labour, while in comparison, the top brass of Coca Cola in Atlanta gets paid almost $5,000 AN HOUR and that’s far from the the worst this film offers as proof. The actual focus is that in order to keep wages low, Coca Cola has gone as far as to use paramilitary forces to systematically murder anyone who wants to change the status quo. So far at least 9 men, all union leaders and all Coca Cola workers, have been killed while the company looks the other way, washes their hands and claims no liability.
Again, to help out, another movie event was scheduled by Speak Spanish To Me. With 1200+ members, just passing the word via email is a step in the right direction. With a bit of luck, the word got passed to two movie groups in Toronto and we all went to see the movie last night. The auditorium was packed and as expected the documentary showed the outright greed of multi-nationals who will throw as many wrenches into the legal system as necessary to slow down any justice to the men who have been murdered in cold blood. Going on for five years now, the case is just starting to get closer to a resolution, however if you don`t want to wait, we as consumers can and must speak in the one and best way they understand, through their money coffers!
In the end, our collaboration was to get educated and if I say so myself, monetarily speaking, the group’s funds we contributed paid half their rental expenses! But on a serious note, I highly recommend everyone to make the time to see this documentary and for us and most people who saw the movie last night, I think we are all switching refreshment brands… water it`s starting to look particularly healthy. And that’s the real thing.