The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 20, 2003 - 5A
Columbian union issues brought to 'U'
By Carmen Johnson
Daily Staff Reporter
After witnessing murder by
paramilitary forces in Columbia,
union leader Luis Cardona - now
on political asylum for one year -
shared last night his experiences
struggling to organize laborers in
the Carepa Coca-Cola bottling
plant and his recent efforts to
improve labor conditions in his
Paramilitary groups, with the
tacit support of factory manage-
ment, assassinate and kidnap
union leaders to keep union activi-
ty to a minimum, Cardona said.
In Columbia - the third top
receiver of U.S. foreign aid - part
of the paramilitary funding comes
from the U.S., he said.
Aid that is received remains in the
hands of corrupt leaders who suppress
union activities, he added.
"We need support to manifest
before the U.S. government and
pressure them to stop sending
money to Columbia without inter-
national oversight that verifies that
the money is going to the popula-
tion less favored by the situation,"
Cardona said in the last year,
165 union leaders were killed in
Columbia, causing many others to
flee the country.
Cardona was kidnapped the
same day a fellow union member
was assassinated, but escaped to a
Now Cardona said he fears for
his wife and young daughter, who
have received threats while wait-
ing to receive visas to enter the
Brought to campus by Students
Organizing for Labor and Eco-
nomic Equality, Cardona is push-
ing for a international boycott of
Coca-Cola products this summer.
SOLE member Dave Deerg said
this labor issue directly affects stu-
dents because Coca-Cola is a part
of everyday life.
"Beyond human rights, the U.S.
involvement in Columbia and the
familiarity of Coca-Cola connects stu-
dents to this speaker,"Deerg said.
U.S. capital is responsible for
human rights violations in global
factories, SNRE sophomore Yochi
"It's a sad fact that we are chan-
neled to support these corpora-
tions that are violating human
rights, so that anything you buy
can come from a corporation that
oppresses somewhere in the
world," he said.
LSA senior Meredith Koenig
said she will try to never drink
Coca-Cola products again. "Too
many people choose to be igno-
rant," she said. "I don't want to
take part in human infractions
even though I used to drink Coke
Ed. system fails to
thinking, prof says
For the Daily
Luis Adolfo Cardona talks to students
about why Coca Cola Is responsible for
the deaths of labor leaders In Columbia
at a presentation by SOLE yesterday.
State corporations prepare supplies for
military, relatives during Iraq conflict
The American education system
teaches students not to think for them-
selves, New York University Prof.
Jonathan Zimmerman said in a lecture
yesterday. Zimmerman discussed the
problems that have faced America's
education system in the past, advocat-
ing that schools embrace different per-
spectives, rather than just teaching one
Zimmerman analyzed the deficien-
cies of American public schools in the
past century and their effect on stu-
Teachers should look critically at
the questions they are asking their
students, Zimmerman said. Parents
have the responsibility to "encour-
age their children to make their
own" questions. Not only does edu-
cation lack independent thought, he
added, the nation's intellectual envi-
ronment has in general degraded due
to its uniformity.
School of Education junior Natalee
Rowe said speakers like Zimmerman
enlighten the public. "Students should
make up their own minds rather than
have teachers spoon feeding them
information," Rowe said.
In response to a question on
whether teachers should voice their
opinion to students, Zimmerman said
the teacher has to create an environ-
ment in which students recognize that
they can disagree with the teachers.
Disagreements on the roles of reli-
gion and sex education in about how
they should be taught, and whether
they should be even allowed in
schools were also topics in Zimmer-
man's discussion. The problem of
these two issues in the U.S. lacks
agreement. Zimmerman added that
many liberals in the early 20th centu-
ry advocated teaching religion in
schools, yet no one could agree on
which religion should be taught.
Sex education in schools was seen in
the same way, he said. Zimmerman
said these issues demonstrate educa-
tor's desire to promote one perspective.
"The goal of school should never be to
maintain a point of view"
Zimmerman began by discussing
American history textbooks. He said
schools have sought to create diversity
by teaching about historical figures
from different ethnic groups. "I cele-
brate that diversity;" said Zimmerman,
adding that this is only done for the
sake of liberty, not education. "It's not
about what he did or does, it's about
the wonderful story of us."
GRAND RAPIDS (AP) - As the
likelihood of war between the United
States and Iraq increases, the number of
affected Michigan businesses and organ-
izations also grows.
Earlier this month, General Motors
Corp. said it will cut second-quarter pro-
duction 10.5 percent and Ford Motor
Co. followed by announcing a 17 per-
cent reduction. DaimlerChrysler AG's
Chrysler Group and Toyota Motor Corp.
are also expected to build fewer vehicles
in North America in the April-June peri-
od, when compared with a year ago.
Last week, Rockford-based Wolver-
ine World Wide Inc., the nation's largest
shoe manufacturer, announced that it
was stepping up production of military
footgear. The company, best known for
its Hush Puppies line, signed a contract
with the U.S. Department of Defense to
supply a new line of boots to the Army
David Money, who owns a Buchanan
trucking company that specializes in
moving military equipment, said he
recently was asked to haul items from
four engineering battalions spread
across Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania
and Wisconsin. After putting in nearly
two weeks of 14 and 15-hour work days,
his drivers got their loads to the proper
ports for transport overseas.
Kellogg Co. spokeswoman Christine
Ervin said yesterday the Battle Creek-
based company has government con-
tracts to provide cereal and convenience
foods to members of the armed forces
- not only for those stationed at mili-
tary installations but also for those on
the ground near Iraq.
"We're trying to make sure that we
get things there as quickly as possible to
make sure the food reaches the troops in
a timely manner," Ervin said. She
declined to provide transportation
details.While Michigan reservists on the
front line were getting food from Kel-
logg, their immediate families in the
Grand Rapids area were receiving com-
plimentary memberships to the Grand
Rapids Metropolitan YMCA.
The memberships are for the spouses
and children of activated reservists,
spokesman Gary Wade said yesterday.
A family membership usually
requires a $150 joining fee plus a $76
monthly fee. Over the course of six
"Thiese activations have had a dramatic emotional
and financial strain on the families (of area
reservists), so we kind of looked at ourselves and
said, what can we offer these people?"
- Gary Wade
Grand Rapids Metropolitan YMCA spokesman
months, a reservist's family would save
"The memberships are good from the
time of deployment through the duration
of the reservist's active duty," Wade said.
The memberships are good at all six
of the YMCA's branches, which include
three in Grand Rapids and one each in
Grandville, Lowell and Ionia.
On Feb. 25, the YMCA set up a hot
line that eligible families can call to
request memberships. YMCA officials
got the idea after two relatives of execu-
tives in the organization were called to
"These activations have had a dramat-
ic emotional and financial strain on the
families (of area reservists), so we kind
of looked at ourselves and said, what can
we offer these people?" he said. "We
can offer a safe environment, we can
offer activities such as swimming pro-
grams and soccer programs for them, as
well as mentors. Because if Dad's off in
a war, we can be able to provide a sup-
port network for them."
In Swartz Creek, the owner of a small
accounting firm is offering to prepare,
for free, the federal, state and local
income tax returns of active military
"They kind of are giving up a lot of
their lives to help protect ours," Vicky
Green, the proprietor of Horizon
Business Services, told The Flint
Journal last week.
to maintain price
LANSING (AP) - Michigan Attor-
ney General Mike Cox warned gas sta-
tion owners yesterday against using the
outbreak of war with Iraq as an excuse
to sharply boost gasoline prices.
"While the pressure on prices during
this time of crisis is naturally intense and
complex, the attorney general's office
will be vigilant in protecting consumers
from erratic and unwarranted spikes in
the price of gasoline," Cox said in a
"Anyone looking to gouge consumers
while our men and women risk their
lives overseas will be dealt with swiftly
and severely." Cox said he has seen no
evidence of gas gouging, despite recent
increases attributed to tight oil supplies
that had driven prices to their highest
level of the year - $1.77 a gallon -
before prices started falling this week.
But he noted that under the state Con-
sumer Protection Act, a retailer is pro-
hibited from charging prices that are
Stations found to be gouging drivers
are subject to fines of up to $25,000.
Cox said the attorney general's office
monitors retail gas prices and wholesale
costs daily in an attempt to detect any
gouging. After the Sept. 11, terrorist
attacks, the attorney general's office
charged more than 40 retailers with
excessive pricing. Jennifer Granholm
now governor, was attorney general at
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