Bailey83221 (bailey83221) wrote,


n1 Daniel Kovalik has served as Assistant General Counsel for the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) for over 10 years. While the USWA is institutionally supporting the lawsuits against Coca-Cola and Drummond described herein, and is actively supporting the struggle of trade unionists in Colombia, the opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the USWA.

n2 See Estate of Rodriquez v. Drummond Co., 256 F. Supp. 2d 1250 (N.D. Ala. 2003); Sinaltrainal v. Coca-Cola, 256 F. Supp. 2d 1345 (S.D. Fla. 2003).

n3 Rand Corporation, Projecting Future Cocaine Use & Evaluating Control Strategies (1994), at; See C. Peter Rydell & Susan S. Everingham, Controlling Cocaine: Supply Versus Demand Programs, Rand Corporation (1994) (on file with the Seattle Journal for Social Justice).

n4 It should be noted that the United States does nothing to regulate the exportation to Colombia of chemicals needed to convert coca into cocaine.

n5 See Thalif Deen, Colombia: U.N. Focus on Deaths of Children in Civil War, INTER PRESS SERVICE, Feb. 19, 2004; Council on Foreign Relations Briefing of the Andes 2020 Commission, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, Jan. 8, 2004; Ruth Morris, Colombia Conflict Drawing in More Children, L.A. TIMES, Sept. 19, 2003, at A3.

n6 See U.S. State Department, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report--2002 (Mar. 2003) 20, at; Latin American Working Group, The Numbers Game: Coca Cultivation in Colombia (April 2003), at The U.S. State Department released its 2004 International Narcotics Strategy Report, covering the year 2003, shortly before this article went to press. See U.S. State Dep't, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report--2003 (Mar. 2004), at The total land under coca cultivation in Colombia decreased to 113,850 hectares (i.e., just below the figure for 1999, the year before Plan Colombia began). Adam Isacson, The State Department Data on Drug-Crop Cultivation, Center for International Policy, Mar. 22, 2004, at Even taking this figure in isolation, it would mean that after more than $ 2.5 billion of military aid to Colombia in about four years, the United States government has managed to achieve only the most meager decrease in coca cultivation. Id. Moreover, as many narcotics experts predicted, the 2004 report from the State Department indicates that there was an accompanying increase in the coca cultivation of fellow Andean State Bolivia. As the State Department reported, Bolivia experienced a 17% increase in total area under coca cultivation in 2003. International Narcotics Control Strategy Report--2003, supra. That is, some of the cultivation has moved, but it has not been eliminated. Finally, there is good reason to question the State Department's most recent figures on coca cultivation in Colombia. As the Center for International Policy explains, the price of cocaine has not risen on either U.S. streets or on Colombia's illegal market as would be expected from a decline in coca cultivation. See Isacson, supra. The Center also reports that coca cultivation is actually increasing in parts of Colombia where there is not constant spraying of coca crops and that coca cultivation is generally increasing throughout the region. Id.

n7 U.S. State Department, Colombia: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices--2002 (Mar. 31, 2003) 1, at [hereinafter State Dep't Report (2002)]. A more recent State Department report dated Feb. 25, 2004, noted that the Colombian "government's human rights record remains poor," that "some members of the security forces continued to commit serious abuses, including unlawful and extrajudicial killings," and that "some members of the Columbia security forces collaborated with the AUC terrorist group that committed serious abuses." See U.S. State Department, Colombia: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices--2003 (Feb. 25, 2004), at [hereinafter State Dep't Report (2003)].

n8 See DEA Report, The Drug Trade in Colombia: A Threat Assessment, at; Peter Slevin, Colombian President Defends Amnesty for Paramilitary Troops, WASH. POST, Oct. 1, 2003, at A17 ("An internal Colombian government analysis said the [AUC paramilitary] force controls 40% of the drug trade.").

n9 Scott Wilson, Colombia Fighters' Drug Trade Is Detailed; Report Complicates Efforts to End War, WASH. POST, June 26, 2003, at A1 (quoting a Colombian government study reported by President Alvaro Uribe).

n10 See U.S. State Department, List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, at (last visited May 1, 2004).

n11 State Dep't Report (2002), supra note 7.

n12 Compare U.S. State Dep't, Colombia: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices--1999 (Feb. 2, 2000) 3, at with State Dep't Report (2002) 2, supra note 7. The State Department reported on Feb. 25, 2004, that the number of political assassinations in the first nine months of 2003 dropped to levels approximating those in 1999 as a result of paramilitary "cease-fires declared in the context of demobilization negotiations conducted by the AUC" paramilitaries. See State Dep't Report (2003), supra note 7. This fact reported by the State Department reaffirms the findings that the paramilitaries are responsible for the majority of human rights abuses in Colombia. And, indeed, the State Department noted in this same report that even notwithstanding the announced cease-fire, these paramilitary "terrorists continued to commit numerous unlawful and political killings, including of labor leaders." Moreover, the drop in assassinations in 2003 appears to be made up for in a sharp increase in disappearances, again mostly by military/paramilitary forces. As the State Department reports, most of these disappearances result in murder.

n13 The U.S. Response to the Crisis In Colombia Before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources, 106th Cong. (Feb. 15, 2000).

n14 Id. (statement of Lawrence P. Meriage, Vice President of Occidental Petroleum), at

n15 Id.

n16 Maria Cristina Caballero, Op-Ed, New Wave of Terror in Colombia, BOSTON GLOBE, Feb. 16, 2003, at E11; Juan Forero, Bush Wants $ 98 Million to Defend Colombian Pipeline, N.Y. TIMES, Feb. 6, 2002, at A6; Ruth Morris, Colombian Paramilitary Leaders Announce Peace Talks, L.A. TIMES, July 16, 2003.

n17 Scott Wilson, U.S. Moves Closer to Colombia's War; Involvement of Special Forces Could Trigger New Wave of Guerilla Violence, WASH. POST, Feb. 7, 2003, at A22.

n18 Occidental Abandons Oil Development on U'wa Land, ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS SERVICE (citing an estimate by Amazon Watch).

n19 Jim Trutor, Transnational firms play complex role, COLOMBIA WEEK, Mar. 8, 2004, at

n20 Id.

n21 Id.

n22 Sam Hodges, Callahan Wins $ 1.7 Billion for Colombia, MOBILE REGISTER, Mar. 31, 2000.



n25 See ICFTU Survey 2003, A Stain of Anti-Union Repression is Spreading Across the Map of the World (Oct. 16, 2003), at

n26 State Dep't Report (2002), supra note 7, at 39.

n27 Id.

n28 Id.

n29 Id. In its most recent report, the State Department reported that, according to the United Workers Central of Colombia (CUT), paramilitaries were responsible for 77% of the murders of trade union members during 2003. See State Dep't Report (2003), supra note 7, at 29. This is remarkable given the fact that, as the State Department explains in this same report, the overall level of paramilitary activity in Colombia was lower in 2003 due to a paramilitary cease-fire.

n30 Hacienda Bellacruz, Land, Violence & Paramilitary Power, AMNESTY INT'L (AMR 23/006/1997), Feb. 1, 1997, available at

n31 Id.

n32 Hodges, supra note 22.

n33 David Bacon, The Colombian Connection: U.S. Fuels a Dirty War Against Unions, IN THESE TIMES, July 23, 2001.

n34 Aram Roston, It's The Real Thing: Murder--U.S. Firms Like Coca-Cola Are Implicated in Colombia's Brutality, NATION, Sept. 3, 2001, at 34.

n35 Steven Dudley, War in Colombia's Oilfields; Washington's Counterinsurgency Aid Will Be a Big Boost to Occidental Petroleum, NATION, Aug. 5, 2002, at 28.

n36 Pui-Wing Tam & Marc Lifsher, Change of Venue: Colombian Killings Land U.S. Company In American Court, WALL ST. J., Oct. 6, 2003, at A1.

n37 See Bellacruz, supra note 30.

n38 See Roston, supra note 34.

n39 Tam, supra note 36.

n40 Id.

n41 Id.

n42 Id.

n43 Roston, supra note 34.

n44 Tam, supra note 36.

n45 Report of the UNHCHR on the Human Rights Situation in Colombia, U.N. ESCOR Commission on Human Rights, 58th Sess., Agenda Item 3, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2002/17 (2002).

n46 Id. at 56.

n47 Id. at 57.

n48 Tam, supra note 36.

n49 In addition to the murder of Isidro Gil, the lawsuit also involves the kidnapping and torture of Coca-Cola bottling workers and union leader Jorge Humberto Leal as well as death threats made against Juan Carlos Galvis, the president of the Sinaltrainal union in Barrancabermeja. The lawsuit also involves the six-month incarceration of three Coca-Cola bottling workers and union leaders in Bucaramanga, Colombia. These workers were jailed based upon criminal charges, later dismissed as frivolous by prosecutors, brought by the local Coca-Cola bottler known as Panamco Colombia. The most moving meeting I had with the plaintiffs in the case was with these three formerly jailed workers and their families in Bucaramanga. The families came to the meeting in their Sunday best and, with tears in their eyes, recounted how difficult it was to be separated from each other during the six-month period of incarceration. The family members of the incarcerated workers were only able to visit the jailed workers, invariably the fathers of the family, once a month. Between visits, they would try to communicate by throwing crumpled notes through the bars of the jail. The children in the families are clearly still traumatized by this experience and fear that their fathers may be taken from them again at any time.

n50 For articles about the facts that led to the case against Coca-Cola, see (last visited Apr. 28, 2004). Tragically, Isidro Gil's wife was later killed by paramilitaries in the year 2000, leaving their two daughters without parents.

n51 See id.

n52 See id.

n53 This was my second trip to Colombia, the first having been to Barrancabermeja, Colombia in September 2000 with the Colombia Support Network, a group that is working for peace in Colombia through sister city projects.

n54 28 U.S.C. § 1350 (2000).

n55 28 U.S.C.A. § 1350, Note (2003).

n56 Id.

n57 See Doe v. Unocal, 110 F. Supp. 2d 1294 (C.D. Cal. 2000), aff'd in part and rev'd in part, 2002 U.S. App. LEXIS 19263 (9th Cir. Sept. 18, 2002), vacated by and rehearing en banc granted in, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 2716 (9th Cir. Feb. 14, 2003); Doe v. Unocal, 963 F. Supp. 880 (C.D. Cal. 1997); Gov't of the Union of Burma v. Unocal, 176 F.R.D. 329 (C.D. Cal. 1997). See also Juan Forero, Rights Groups Overseas Fight U.S. Concerns in U.S. Courts, N.Y. TIMES, June 26, 2003, at A3. Since the Unocal cases were filed, over two dozen such ATCA cases have been filed to remedy corporate wrong-doing abroad.

n58 See generally Drummond, 256 F. Supp. 2d 1250; Coca-Cola, 256 F. Supp. 2d 1345.

n59 Drummond, 256 F. Supp. 2d at 1266-67, Coca-Cola, 256 F. Supp. 2d at 1358-59.

n60 Id.

n61 Coca-Cola, 256 F. Supp. 2d at 1353.

n62 28 U.S.C.A. § 1350, Note (2003).

n63 See Drummond, 256 F. Supp. 2d at 1267-68.

n64 Id. (citing Doe v. Islamic Salvation Front, 993 F. Supp. 3, 8 (D. D.C. 1998)).

n65 Tam, supra note 36.

n66 Drummond Co., 256 F. Supp. 2d at 1264, 1267-68.

n67 28 U.S.C.A. § 1350, Note (2003) (emphasis added).

n68 State Dep't Report (2003), supra note 7, at 29. Curiously, the State Department noted that these cases were filed in "foreign courts" (i.e., courts outside Colombia) without noting that they were filed in U.S. courts. Id.

n69 Tam, supra note 36.

n70 New Rights Abuses Against Colombian Unionists, Committee for Social Justice in Colombia (New York, NY), Mar. 4, 2004, at

n71 The U.S. State Department estimates this figure to be eighty, but this is an incomplete figure because it accounts for assassinations only through September of last year. State Dep't Report (2003), supra note 7.

n72 Colombia: Trade unionists face alarming resurgence in death threats and forced displacements, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Online bulletin 154/041103, Nov. 4, 2003, at

n73 Conn Hallinan, Colombia: Old Domino's New Clothes, Interhemispheric Resource Center, Mar. 16, 2004, available at (disappearances of trade unionists and other left opposition supporters have increased from 258 in the 1994-95 period to more than 1,200 since 2001). The U.S. State Department's figures more than confirm such a leap in disappearances, with the State Department estimating that there were 260 to 785 disappearances in Colombia in the first nine months of 2003 alone, with the vast majority of these disappearances being the responsibility of either the official military or paramilitary forces. State Dep't Report (2003), supra note 7, at 7. Further, the State Department notes that the human rights group Association of Families of Detained and Disappeared Persons (ASFADDES), which provides the higher estimate of 785 disappearances, approximates that there were 6,000 total disappearances since 1981. Id. Assuming these figures are close to accurate, a significant percentage (possibly 20%) of the disappearances in the past twelve years took place in the year 2003 alone. This is a chilling statistic.

n74 See State Dep't Report (2002), supra note 7.

n75 Juan Aguas Romero v. Drummond, et al.; John Doe II v. Drummond, et al.; Jimmy Rubio v. Drummond et al., consolidated as Romero v. Drummond Co, Inc., et al., Case No. 03-CV-575 (N.D.Ala.).

n76 Letter from Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to Daniel Kovalik, Assistant General Counsel, United Steelworkers of America, (Apr. 20, 2003) (on file with the Seattle Journal for Social Justice).

n77 Victory in the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (International Labor Rights Fund, New York, NY), May 6, 2004, at
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