“We are doing this to save the lives of our members,” declared Colombian union leader Javier Luis Correa, launching an international boycott of Coca-Cola products July 22. Correa, president of Colombia’s National Union of Food Industry Workers (SINALTRAINAL), accused Coke of attacking the union by way of paramilitary death squads that get rid of union activists.

The union reports that eight union members and the wife of a Coca-Cola worker have been assassinated, 67 are living under death threats, their families have been threatened and relatives kidnapped, demonstrations have been attacked, and union offices searched, bombed and burned.

The boycott has the endorsement of the country’s main trade union federation, the CUT, as well as the World Social Forum. SINALTRAINAL’s demands include no more assassinations and full reparations to the families of the victims.

The United Steelworkers of America and the International Labor Rights Fund filed a suit in U.S. court in July 2001 on behalf of SINALTRAINAL against Coca-Cola. The Steelworkers union maintains that the multinational is responsible for the intimidation and murder of union organizers in its bottling plants in Colombia.

The author can be reached at rwood@pww.org