from Italian Eurochocolate Festival (March 2003)
Posted: 29 April 2003
The following press
release has been received from an Italian group which works closely
with the Italian Nestlé Boycott Network (which is a member
of the International Nestlé Boycott Committee).
In the UK Nestlé
claims (in typically dishonest fashion) that the boycott is only
a concern here and nowhere else. In reality the boycott has been
launched by groups in 20 countries and individuals and organisations
in many others support it. To show something of the reality in
other countries Baby Milk Action occasionally reproduces materials
from other campaigns.
As in the UK, boycott
supporters use Nestlé's sponsorship of cultural and other
events to highlight the baby milk issue and other human rights
abuses perpetrated by Nestlé. Last year the Italian Nestlé
Boycott Network persuaded organisers of the Fano Carnival to stop
sourcing chocolates from Nestlé (see
press release). Now in Rome the Eurochocolate Festival (1st-9th
March 2003) was Nestlé free after the city Mayor was reminded
of past promises to work only with ethical businesses. The issue
of sponsorship in schools is also a concern to Italian campaigners.
The translation of
this press release was done by the Italian group.
Cambia lo Sponsor (Change the Sponsor Coordination)
c/o: Casale Podere Rosa, via Diego Fabbri snc, 00100 Roma
2003: NESTLE BARRED [31.01.2003]
Course of Change the Sponsor Campaign
On the tide of the
successful event in Perugia (800.000 attendants), Eurochocolate
arrives in Rome, with its "sweet" appearence and the
"bittersweet" reality of the pain and misery hallmarking
the cocoa market, an ideal ground for the corporative exploitation.
Four companies run
for the cocoa market and they all obviously attended Eurochocolate
with their pavillons: the american Philip Morris and Mars, the
italian Ferrero and the swiss Nestlé.
The troublesome presence
of Nestlé, one of the event sponsors, raised the main criticism
from those realities which, after Genoa, are trying to relaunch
also in Rome the international boycotting campaign.
These are the newborn Roma Nord-Est Social Forum (North-easter
Rome Social Forum) and the Rete Italiana per il Boicottaggio Nestlé
(Boycott Nestlé Italian Network) , who are already taking
action to organize a wide coordination of associations and individuals
to affect the swiss company in the weakest side: the company image,
attending as a sponsoring and supporting company careful to social
The Cambia lo Sponsor
(Change the Sponsor) coordination (COCS) was born on february
23th, supported by more than thirty associations and immediately
taking action at Eurochocolate: creatively handing out flyers
in front of the Nestlé-Perugina pavillon (until the police
asked the activists to move outside, because of not specified
reasons of public order) and writing a protest letter to the Mayor,
guilty of not fulfilling the engagement undertaken in 1998, under
the pressure of the roman critical consumption realities.
On that occasion, the
City Council issued an administrative act by which they agreed
"not to accept manufacturers of dried milk, infancy food
and other products covered by the World Health Organization international
codes, for the sponsoring and advertising of cultural, sports
and educational activities, as well as public works within the
The breach is plain:
Eurochocolate is sponsored by Rome City Council and Nestlé,
the company with the highest records of the Code infringments
in any corner of the planet.
There are other breaches
such as patchwork decorations in the Rome subway, donated from
Nestlé and the Children Museum Explora, sponsored by the
City Council and Nestlé as well.
on and we didnt get any response from the Mayor, but the
question was raised and the citizens response has been definitely
was over, COCS kept on boycotting the swiss company through a
campaign towards the Children Museum, asking "not to dirt
its own image to clean the Nestlés one", either
involving the City Council, which sponsors the Museum granting
the municipal area as free bailment.
On July 18th 2002 the
first COCSs achievement comes: after 5 months of pressure,
the Children Museum decides to endorse a sponsoring self-regulation
code and to give up the Nestlè 450 millions liras sponsor.
In October Eurochocolate
has been questioned also in Perugia.
Even this time the
police defended the companies interests.
A large number of associations
organized Equochocolate, an alternative event dedicated to the
cocoa market exploitation.
The turning point of
Eurochocolate campaign comes on december 14th 2002, during the
Altraeconomia Exhibition, organized by Rome City Council about
the topics brought up by the Movement of all Movements for the
building of another possible world. The Mayor came to take the
event opening speech and COCS, attending with its critical consumption
promotional pavillon, has taken the chance to make the Mayor take
a public clear stand about many open questions, from Eurochocolate
to the football fields donated by Nike to 20 roman schools.
gave Veltroni, the Rome Mayor, one report about the current exploiting
conditions in the Nike indonesian factories, and organized a meeting
between the Mayor and combonian missionary Alex Zanotelli, who
had already asked several times the Mayor to take a clear stand
for the "depleted ones" of the world, always receiving
Zanotelli met Veltroni
and gave him a letter asking his support for the COCS campaign
and particularly asking not to sponsor Eurochocolate with the
presence of Nestlé, not to accept the Nike football fields,
a real "Trojan horse" used by the company to bring its
logo into the public school, and to solve the filthy sponsoring
question once and for all through the establishment of an Ethical
Commission of the City Council, to evaluate the companies ethicality
asking to sponsor events or municipal public works each time.
The Mayor, surprised
and cross-questioned in front of the audience and reporters, could
nothing but accept all the requests, apologizing for the thoughtless
way they had dealt the Nike question and promising to encourage
the establishment of the Ethical Commission.
When on January 26th
2003 word came that Eurochocolate would have taken in Rome again
with the presence of Nestlé, COCS sent the nth protest
letter to Veltroni, requesting to fulfill the engagements undertaken
just one month earlier at Altraeconomia Exhibition, and could
get a Repubblica article published, announcing protest actions
during the event.
Even the other manufacturers
attending Eurochocolate asked the Mayor to intervene, fearing
that the "chocolate party" would turn in a "fault
mark not belonging to us", since Nestlé has never
officially denied by documents any of the allegations charged
(and how could it???).
At this point, Veltroni
wrote to the organizers, asking to bar Nestlé.
January 30th 2003,
accepting the Mayors request, the Eurochocolate management
issued a press statement declaring to withdraw the invitation
for Nestlè Italia to attend Eurochocolate Roma 2003, which
took place at Pincio from March 1st to March 9th.
COCS sent a statement
out announcing great satisfaction for the positive settlement
of the dispute.
The day after, all the main newspaper spread the news.
For the corporate image
of the most boycotted company in the world its a real bad
blow, so much so that the public relations executive Magnoni hurried
to declare that Nestlé had not been barred from Eurochocolate,
but that they decided not to attend the event themselves because
of not specified commercial choices.
If you think that Eurochocolate
was born in Perugia to promote the local confectionery industry
products, and first of all the Peruginas ones (the actual
Nestlé), you can gather all the unintentional funny side
of Magnonis statement. In fact, none believed in it...
The final step of the
campaign is the high circulation to the public of the reasons
for the barring of Nestlé: march 1st 2003, at the opening
of Eurochocolate, COCS attended handing out flyers and inviting
the citizens to a meeting about "juvenile exploitation and
infant mortality in the southern countries of the world: the responsabilities
of cocoa and dried milk corporations", with the presence
of Christoph Baker, UNICEF expert, Gino Barsella, ex-manager of
"Sdebitarsi" campaign, Walter Vidori, cambonian missionary
operating in Uganda, and Martina Carabetta, La Leche League operator
This time the Nestlé pavillon wasnt there and the
police didnt come.Obviously, it is just a small victory,
not an end but a new beginning: the boycotting goes on until Nestlé
decides to respect human rights.
COCS wish to particularly
thank all the friends and fellows who organized the protest in
Rome, the associations which fight since years against Nestlé
crimes and all the citizens supporting the campaign.
CHANGE THE SPONSOR
AND... BOYCOTT NESTLE!!!
N.B. An interactive
and multimedia version of this report, supplied with all the most
important related documents, is available on COCS website www.romanordestsocialforum.org/cocs/home.htm.