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The Coca-Cola Controversy - Chapter 1 The Coca-Cola Controversy - Chapter 2 The Coca-Cola Controversy - Chapter 3 The Coca-Cola Controversy - Chapter 4 The Coca-Cola Controversy - Chapter 5

About the Filmmakers

Rob Harris Rob Harris is a graduate of the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism where he won awards for filmmaking and urban reporting. Based in the Bay Area, Harris has reported and shot video in Argentina, Vietnam, Colombia and Cuba. His recent projects have aired on NBC's Today Show and KQED TV in San Francisco.

Tovin Lapan Tovin Lapan started as a print journalist in Guadalajara, Mexico. He is a recent graduate of the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and its Latin American Studies master's program. Lapan now works for the Naples Daily News in southern Florida and is planning a reporting trip to Brazil this summer.

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IntroductionFRONTLINE/World Fellows Rob Harris and Tovin Lapan traveled to Colombia in August 2005 to investigate charges that the Coca-Cola Company was involved in the violent repression of a union at several of its bottling plants. The soft drink company strenuously denies the allegations of union-busting and murder of union leaders. But there is growing pressure on the Atlanta, Georgia-based multinational from shareholders and U.S. colleges boycotting Coke to approve a full-scale, independent investigation of the charges. Harris and Lapan journeyed through a country rent asunder by political violence, managing to interview all the parties involved in the Coke controversy. Watch their investigation unfold in five video chapters, as they reveal what they learned.

Senior Interactive Producer: Jackie Bennion; Interactive Designer/Developer: Kei Gowda; see full Web credits

“Colombia: The Coca-Cola Controversy” by Rob Harris and Tovin Lapan is the latest multimedia production of the FRONTLINE/World Fellows program, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. It is part of our ongoing effort to identify and mentor the next generation of video, print and online journalists.

Our Colombia story is the second in a new round of Fellows reports, which began in December 2005 with “Brazil: Cutting the Wire” and will continue on our Web site over the next few months, featuring stories from Japan, China, Italy, Uganda and Pakistan. Previous Fellows stories have included journeys to Guatemala, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Haiti, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, Egypt, Israel and Sicily and across Europe by train from Istanbul to Paris. You can see them all here.

In spring 2006, we will solicit proposals for the next round of Fellows through our parthership with the UC Berkeley, Columbia and Northwestern Graduate Schools of Journalism. Look for the announcement on this Web site.

share your reactions

Phillip Jennings
Cincinnati, OH

I find it repulsive that Coca-Cola, an ambassador and face of America to most of the world, puts profit, greed, and exploitation above human dignity, safe working conditions, fair wages. I will no longer quench my thrist with Coca-Cola products and will encourage others to do the same.

Jackson, Michigan
I have been a daily Coke user for years. I will switch to Pepsi.

Mike Garcia
Naperville, IL

Very good piece by Tovin and Rob which I enjoyed watching online. I think it was a fair delivery of both sides of the issue and explained the relationship, or lack there of, between Coca Cola Atlanta, Femsa and the bottlers very cleanly. However, one issue that puzzled me was the role NYC officials played in the controversy. I understand the student activists' angle; it's one that has played out all across the country. These student groups are more interested in stirring the pot of any issue for the sake of stirring it, even if it's not their pot. But the city officials? These are supposed to be responsible adults who should be focused on their responsibilities at home, the responsibilities they are getting paid to do. The federal government has the State Department at its disposal for these types of issues. That's our country's international liaison, not city officials thousands of miles away from foreign concerns and politics.

Missoula, MT
Thank you for airing this story. In 2002 and again in 2005, I went to Colombia. I met with union members in Barrancabermeja. We stayed at the union office, behind two bullet proof doors, and we traveled with an armed body guard. I couldn't imagine having to live like that everyday, and at the same time, I was so inspired by the workers who will not give up, who demand the dignified life they deserve. Coca-Cola must be held accountable for its crimes. They have managed to fool the world into thinking they care about people and not money with a billion-dollar marketing campaign. I am pleased to see the truth is beginning to get out there. Please keep following this story.

Jonathan Jones
Fremont, CA

A very important story that takes a close-up look at the stark complexities of globalization. Nice work.


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