The day started with a 10am press conference in the HQ of the CUT, an opportunity to tell the world’s media why we were supporting the boycott. The press conference was given by Carlos Rodriguez, President of the CUT, Domingo Tovar, CUT’s Human Rights Director, Javier Correa President of SINALTRAINAL, and Pedro Mahecha of the Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective.
In the afternoon there was a demonstration and “mitin” outside Coke headquarters. Members of SINALTRAINAL handed in a document announcing the start of the world boycott, along with a list of their demands. There were simultaneous demonstrations outside Coca Cola installations in Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Valledupar, Bucaramanga and Barancabermeja.
England, Scotland and Wales
The International Day of Action to launch the boycott of Coca Cola was taken up by a number of groups with protest actions across the country.
The Colombia Solidarity Campaign group in Portsmouth had kicked things off the previous Saturday when they collected a thousand signatures from members of the public on a street stall.
On 22nd July, the Campaign's rally in Piccadilly Circus, a gathering point for tourists and young people in London's west end, this evening was a huge success. Hundreds of people listened to speeches and danced to samba rhythms as four 'waitresses' passed through the crowd offering Coke blood drinks. Marta Hinestroza, a refugee lawyer representing peasnt farmers displaced off their land by BP's pipelines in Colombia, called for a boycott of Coca Cola as representative of how multinationals are plundering the natural resources of the Colombian people, and using violent methods to crush opposition.
Earlier in the day a group from the Cardiff Anarchist Network took direct action. They entered Coke bottling and distribution plant in Edmonton, north London. One of the protesters locked himself to a lorry, some locked the plant's gates while others pressed emergency buttons to stop the production line. During the two hour production stoppage for the emergency services to arrive the protesters meantime talked to workers inside the plant to explain their action. And the paramedic who arrived to assist the protester locked to a lorry turned out to be a representative of public sector union UNISON and was completely supportive. The protesters were detained by police, but released after Coca Cola decided not to press the charge of 'conspiracy to commit burglary'. One protester overheard Coke managers saying over the police radio that £30,000 worth of output had been lost.
In Hammersmith, also in London, another group called International Socialist Resistance held a picket of Coca Cola's UK headquarters. The group reports protests in several UK cities, including Leicester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Manchester and Cardiff.