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Hunger Strikers Health Worsen

Colombia Solidarity Campaign | 23.03.2004 11:57 | Analysis | Indymedia | London | World

Eight days into the glorious hunger strike by Colombian Coca Cola workers and the struggle continues, but neither the corporation nor the national government concern themselves with the grave health problems now affecting the participants in this important protest for life and dignity.


We report with great concern that:

1. Several comrades on hunger strike are now in a lamentable state of health; they have deteriorated seriously through emanation (accelerated loss of weight) and profound dehydration. The health of our president LUIS JAVIER CORREA SUAREZ is very delicate.

2. Some of the hunger strikers are daily showing less tolerance due to the loss of liquids in spite of maintaining periodic hydration and being permanently on drips.

3. Signs of depression are becoming common amongst the participants.

4. Symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, fainting, palpitations, chest pains, lack of sleep have become constant. All the participants are kept under the medical observation of doctors and nurses.

5. MARCO TULIO REY, who suffered a pre - heart attack on 19 March, is in a very delicate state.

6. But the most serious of all is that Coca Cola has visited the centres of attention of Social Security (who provide health services) to demand that they do NOT give medical attention to the workers from Coke bottling plants unless they have already ceased the hunger strike. This is the worst ever crime committed by the multinational.

Coca Cola has suspended six comrades at the Bucaramanga plant from their jobs for participating in our activities. This is also a repressive action by the corporation, which will only add more problems to the conflict. Coca Cola is happy to add fuel to the flames.

For the above reasons we make Coca Cola responsible for the health and life of our comrades and we make an urgent call to the multinational’s directors in Atlanta and Mexico so that they stop this violent action against its workers. To continue with this situation could unleash unfortunate events.

In the same manner we make the Colombian state responsible for its continued deafness toward the urgent calls from the workers, who have on repeated occasions asked that it ensures that the labour rights and work security of the comrades are respected.

The attempts by the National Police to dislodge the hunger strikers continue being the order of the day. Situations as occurred in Bogotá and Barranquilla especially are a very clear proof of the help that the multinational has been getting from the state security organs with the aim of breaking the workers’ protest.

Paramilitary threats against SINALTRAINAL are now taking place across the country. If the paramilitaries manage to weaken the protest the only beneficiary will be Coca Cola.

We call on all social organisations, human rights defenders, politicians, religious people to show solidarity with the Coca Cola workers and demand of the corporation a prompt agreement that avoids more loss of life and the destruction of the trade union.

To the World Health Organisation, International Labor Organisation, United Nations, World Organisation Against Torture and the Ombudsman in Colombia we ask that they exhort Coca Cola and the Colombian government to immediately find a solution to the conflict and they do not continue attacks on the health and life of the comrades.

We ask you to send protest notes to:

Juan Manuel Arbeláez (Director de Recursos Humanos)
Armando Gómez (Jefe de Relaciones Laborales
Teléfonos 2942800 y 4011413 fax. 4011687 y

VOLMAR PÉREZ (Defensor del Pueblo)
MARTHA LUCIA MELO (Directora Nacional de Quejas)
Teléfonos: 3147300 y 5708331

Dra. LUZ STELLA VEIRA (Jefe de Unidad e Inspección)
Teléfonos: 3365066 y3410631

Fax. 5602604

SINALTRAINAL, fax 2455325 y al correo electrónico

* and in the UK and Europe to Jose Nunez Cervera, Director Coca Cola European Public Affairs e-mail and to Martin Norris, Communications Director, Coca-Cola, UK

With copies to:

** THERE WILL BE AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF THE COLOMBIA SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN open to all those who want to help with Solidarity Action in support of the Coca Cola Hunger Strikers.

From 6.30pm Thursday 25th March at CORAS, 161 Lambeth Walk, SE11 (nearest tubes Vauxhall and North Lambeth)


23 March 2004

Colombia Solidarity Campaign