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Abusing human rights

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Last week, three other students and I brought a letter to Notre Dame administrators asking them to make a public statement guaranteeing Notre Dame will not enter into any more contracts with Taco Bell until Taco Bell takes responsibility for the conditions from which their tomatoes come, in accordance with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).

We also asked them to develop a plan to have Fair Trade Coffee, a widely available way of ensuring that the farmers who grow the world’s second-most traded commodity receive fair prices as opposed to poverty-inducing ones, finally available in the dining halls by the beginning of next semester.

As you may know, Florida farmworkers called a national boycott of Taco Bell to get Taco Bell to take responsibility for the poverty and exploitation behind their profit. Notre Dame has a marketing relationship with Taco Bell, and last fall the Progressive Students Alliance (PSA) asked them to cut that contract. Breech of contract rules made them reluctant to do so. We asked for a public statement that Notre Dame would not enter into more contracts with Taco Bell. They agreed to evaluate the relationship but have not yet made the statement.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied,” and while we wait situations do need to be evaluated. Delaying action for too long is allowing injustices to continue.

Notre Dame has had all year and ample information. Each day that we continue to receive money from Taco Bell – money subsidized by the poverty and sweat of farmworkers – is a day that we continue to profit from exploitation and allow it to exist. Until we clearly state our position to Taco Bell, we are not exempt from the responsibility for atrocious abuses of human beings.

Brigitte Gynther



April 6