In 1886, Atlanta pharmacist Dr. John Pemberton created a flavored syrup that could be mixed with carbonated water to create a soft drink that could be sold at a soda fountain. Each glass cost about five cents. We know this particular soft-drink as Coca-Cola, which is now worth $230.2 billion, according to Macrotrends.net.
Along the way to get to a multibillion dollar company, the Coca-Cola Company managed to drain the usable water from the cities or rural villages of countries like India and Mexico.
Their unethical and inhumane treatment of their workers and consumers extends decades long and continues today in a variety of deplorable actions. This dark history of the Coca-Cola Company will make you think twice before you lean back and “Open Happiness,” as their former slogan eloquently puts it.
In the 1960s, Coca-Cola released advertisements in Central America that targeted indigenous cultures and advertised the “health benefits” of Coca-Cola. This, in conjunction with the religious organizations, integrated their product into the religious aspects of the indigenous populations. Even today, there is a church in Chiapas, Mexico that uses coke as a religious drink, saying it has magical properties.
Over the past 50 years, Coke has continued to feature in the culture of Central America. In December 2015, Coca Cola released an ad that had a service group consisting of white people handing out Coke to indigenous people of Oaxaca, Mexico. They insist on barating the idea that Coke is beneficial for human consumption into the brains of indigenous people. Meanwhile, diabetes was the leading cause of death in Mexico in 2006, according to Mexico’s National Survey of Health and Nutrition.
Not only was Coca-Cola rigorously promoting their product to groups of people that literally worship it under the false claim that it has healing properties, an idea propagated by Coca-Cola, but they also mistreated the environment in the same areas.
The New York Times published an article that exposed how Coca-Cola bottling facilities had been using up the water resources of towns like San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Because there was little water left for the people of San Cristóbal de las Casas, they were drinking Coca-Cola products in place of water. Residents blame the bottling plant, which is licensed to use 300,000 gallons of water a day, for the potable water scarcity.
San Cristóbal de las Casas is not the only town that has been affected by this. A former president of San Felipe Ecatepec Juan Urbano said, “People sometimes walk two hours a day to get water.” The alternatives to this include drinking Coke products or buying their water from trucks that come in to town. In 2017, the bottling plant in San Felipe Ecatepec became licensed to use 1,080,000 gallons of water a day.
Similar situations are going on in India. In 2000, Hindustan Coca-Cola, Coca Cola’s subsidiary, built a plant in Plachimada, India. The surrounding communities were able to shut the plant down eventually after noticing the hazardous waste contaminating the soil and the diminishing water resources.
Coca-Cola has since promised to start being more environmentally friendly and to replace all the water they use as they use it. I’ll believe that when I see it.
Featured image by JeepersMedia via Creative Commons.
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