Have a Coke and a Trial

U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez has a bad habit of not disclosing apparent conflicts of interests. First came that business on February 28, 2005, when Martinez failed to mention he was a Eucharistic minister, a spiritual leader who serves communion during Catholic mass, when he overturned a verdict compelling the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami to pay a woman $40,000 plus attorney fees.

Now a labor rights group is accusing Martinez of siding with Coca-Cola and paramilitaries to squash labor movements in soft drink bottling plants in Colombia. In 2004, Martinez allowed the Coca-Cola Co. to be dropped as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the International Labor Rights Fund and United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO, according to Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. Rogers says the Atlanta-based conglomerate has allowed its Colombian subsidiaries to hire paramilitary groups to terrorize Colombian union workers.

The judge has a conflict because of his role as the University of Miami's Spanish language football color commentator and as a governing board member of the UM Hurricane Club, Rogers reasons. The college has an exclusive beverage contract with Coca-Cola. "It suggests at least the appearance of impropriety, if not actual bias," says Rogers. To get its point across, the campaign is distributing this cartoon of Martinez. -Francisco Alvarado

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.