Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Catholic Social Teaching within Mexico

            Since the Catholic Church’s inception in Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors of 1519, Mexico has been tied to Catholicism. Though the Mexican government and Catholic Church have been quarreling for years, as of the 1990s, due to President Carlos Salinas, the two have partially reconciled, allowing for more freedoms of the Church such as voting and becoming involved in political discussions. In order to be affiliated with the people of Mexico, the Church uses Catholic social teaching. Catholic social teaching aids the Church in its attempts to provide better relations with not only the people and the Mexican government, but for Mexican citizens and other nations. The influence of Catholic social teaching with regards to issues concerning unity has been successful while it has been unsuccessful in political viewpoints and immigration.
            One aspect of society in which the Church is influential is that of unity. The Church states: “Human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community. Human dignity can only be realized and protected in the context of relationships with the wider society” ("Major Themes"). Thus, unity leads the masses to realize and understand human dignity. The Church has been able to achieve this realization through the Virgin of Guadalupe. “The Virgin of Guadalupe remains one of the nation’s cherished symbols” (Stecklein), ever since her appearance in 1531. Such an image has united the people through their focus on this symbol, bringing people together to celebrate it: “Catholics from as far away as Perryton, Spearman and Borger united Sunday in hopes of teaching others and honoring the woman who helped convert thousands to Christianity during a turbulent period in Mexico's history” (Stecklein). Through a patriotic and religious sense of unity, the Virgin of Guadalupe has brought people together to commemorate her and her actions. Surely this has been a cause for “Mexico’s overwhelming Catholic populace (about 90 percent)” (Corcoran). The Church, in its efforts to unite the people under Catholic social teaching, has succeeded and continues to be a factor in the lives of Mexicans.
            The Church’s efforts in political affairs with the Mexican government have been unsuccessful with regards to subsidiarity. The Church’s teaching of subsidiarity is that “when the needs in question cannot adequately be met at the lower level, then it is not only necessary, but imperative that higher levels of government intervene” ("Major Themes"). However, the Mexican government has failed in providing such aid in terms of a pro-abortion law: “A proposal before the Mexico City legislature would allow births to be terminated virtually for any reason at all in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. With the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) firmly in control of the legislature, the law seems certain to pass” (Corcoran). The Church has tried to intervene in the issue, with figures as prominent as Mexico City Archbishop Cardinal Norberto Rivera stating: “‘Laws, whatever they are, are intended to respect life. A law that does not is ungodly’” (Corcoran). Yet, it is inevitable that the Church should fail if even the people themselves are willing to abide to this law: “Polls show that more than half the capital’s inhabitants, and an overwhelming majority of its women, are in favor of the bill” (Corcoran). Thus, though the Church has played a role in attempting to be pro-life, it has failed in its attempts, yet continues to persevere.
            The issue of immigration is an act the Church continues to persevere and influences the governments of the United States and Mexico. “The right to migrate springs from three separate principles in Catholic social teaching: the right of a family to sustenance, the priority of the family over the state, and the right of economic initiative” (Yuengert). In Mexico, issues such as NAFTA involvement in farms and drug cartels and crimes has led Mexican citizens in search of better lives elsewhere, mainly in the United States. Yet, this tends to be illegal with respect to government laws:

“The right of a person to migrate conflicts with the duty to obey the laws of the country in which he or she lives. In reflecting on the Federal requirement that the state of California and the city of Los Angeles provide welfare benefits and education to illegal immigrants, a case can be made that poor Mexicans who remain in Mexico have a greater claim on the resources of the state and city than those who immigrate illegally, since Mexican non-immigrants are probably as needy, and they at least are not violating United States law” (Yuengert).

Thus, though the Church accepts such actions as satisfactory, it does so with respect to laws. The Church continues to be an advocate of migration, stating that the people should be allowed to move across borders without hindrance. However, laws placed by governments are placed in a higher category than the doctrines of the Church, as people are continuously penalized for crossing borders, regardless of the viewpoints of the Church: “Although he [Pope John Paul II] states clearly that ‘illegal immigration should be prevented,’ thereby implying that states have a right to enforce restrictions on migration, he just as clearly states that illegal immigrants should be provided with ’the necessary means of subsistence’” (Yuengert). The Church, in its attempts of migration, is thwarted by governments that even the Pope views as being allowed to pass laws subjugating the movements of people illegally into other countries.
Catholic social teaching is prevalent throughout Mexico, yet has succeeded in only uniting the people, while failing in terms of politics and immigration. The Church continues to persevere for its place in society as one fighting for good causes. The role of the Mexican government and people, however, has been a contributing factor as to why the Church has not prevailed. As the Church continues on its quest to find methods to become involved in aspects of Mexican citizens, it flourishes and falls in different parts even with the use of Catholic social teaching. 

Works Cited
Corcoran, Patrick. "A Decline in Catholic Church Influence in Mexico." MexiData.info. Google, 16 Apr. 2007. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://mexidata.info/id1326.html>.
"Major Themes." Catholic Charities' Office for Social Justice. Sowers of Justice. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://www.osjspm.org/major_themes.aspx>.
Stecklein, Janelle. "Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration: Unity the Common Thread." Amarillo. Yahoo!, 7 Dec. 2009. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://amarillo.com/stories/120709/new_news1.shtml>.
Yuengert, Andrew M. "Catholic Social Teaching on the Economics of Immigration." Journal of Markets & Morality 3, No. 1 (2000): 88-99. Act On. Center for Economic Personalism, Spring 2000. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://www.acton.org/sites/v4.acton.org/files/pdf/mm-v3n1-yuengert.pdf>.

Paul Popa

The Role of Catholic Social Teaching in Mexico

Since its beginnings with Hernan Cortes, Mexico has remained a strong Catholic country that relies heavily on religious intervention to determine aspects of social life. However as poverty has worsened within the country, so has corruption. Drug cartels, big businesses, and the lack of clean drinking water have all done heavy damage to the country’s economy and the morale of the people. The biggest hope for the infringed Mexican people is Catholic Social Teaching, which has focused on the improvement of the lives and dignity of the poor, workers, and all others who remain vulnerable within society. Being a predominantly Catholic country, Mexico has not only used Catholic Social Teaching as a motivator for social improvements, but it has also used CST to inspire Catholic relief organizations and political leaders to get involved. With the help of effective relief organizations, Mexico hopes to continue to revive its principles of freedom, justice, and peace.

            By integrating with smaller Mexican organizations, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has aimed at applying the major themes of Catholic Social teaching to improve every day conditions for Mexican people. For example, the Caritas Mexicana-Social Pastoral Commission has “trained the 82 Catholic dioceses to respond to issues of social injustice” (“Giving Hope to a World of Need”). They have addressed every issue from natural disasters to the lack of adequate education to raise awareness within the country. Other organizations such as the Mixteca Center for Integral Peasant Development and Frente Democratico Compensino have attempted to establish low-cost agricultural systems while providing farmers with the proper loans and skills to manage new techniques aimed at preserving the land. These organizations have already touched the lives of over 16,000 and “conducted extensive reforestation efforts, that dramatically transformed eroded areas of the region” (“Giving Hope to a World of Need”). The CRS has also joined with certain dioceses like the Labor Rights Apostolate to defend workers’ rights and to ensure both just wages and safe working conditions for Mexican employment.

            In addition to providing different services and organizations, other groups like the Knights of Columbus in Mexico have verbally defended Mexican freedom. One member said, “Mexico is a free, plural, and democratic country where persons and institutions have the right and duty to express their opinions on issues that have to do with national public life” (“Catholic News Agency”). The Knights proclaimed a culture’s need to support the marginalized and vulnerable in society. Understanding that the country is largely Catholic, the Knights prayed for just actions by priests and churches that would strengthen the Church in its fight for peace. By continuing to support Mexican bishops’ call for freedom, the Knights are contributing to the gradually developing relationship where both the government and the people are supporting one another. Catholic Social teaching has motivated the Knights of Columbus to speak in defense of human dignity. Furthermore, the Knights encouraged Mexico to move away from “a culture of death so that everyone might have life in abundance, from conception to natural death” (“Catholic News Agency”).

            Despite major corruption within large businesses and smaller drug cartels, Catholic Social Teaching still holds a significant role within politics. The morals it instills have attracted other political leaders such as the United States’ Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to use religious enthusiasm to support her own intentions for Mexican judicial reform. Catholic Online has acknowledged Clinton’s acts as morally inspired acts because of persistence and $500 million contribution in funds towards Mexico (“Catholic Online”). Despite an increase in killings and a decrease in public support of military acts on drug cartels, Clinton has continued to back up President Calderon in her determined assistance for the common good of Mexico. Clinton is following the third major theme of CST – Rights and responsibilities – that says “Out of responsibility for the common good, governments must regulate rights in particular instances” (Daoust, 63).

            Although corruption exists within large industries and government, Catholicism has remained a constant hope for the Mexican people. Catholic Social Teaching has established morals and values for Mexico, and now serves as the main motivation for reform in the region. Organizations interested in an improved life for Mexicans have worked alongside these people to prevent injustice in every aspect of society. The CRS has affiliated itself with smaller partners to make the Mexican people aware of the problems in society and train them to solve these problems. Hilary Clinton and the Knights of Columbus also defended Mexican freedom in the movement towards reform. Catholic Social Teaching has not only driven organizations abroad to step in for change, but it also helped to unify the Mexican people. Mexicans can use the major themes of Catholic Social Teaching as the goals that they aspire for in their country.

Works Cited

Online, Catholic. "Mexico must reform judicial system, Secretary Clinton says - International - Catholic Online." Catholic Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.catholic.org/international/international_story.php?id=40095>.

"Knights of Columbus support Mexican bishops' freedom of expression :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)." Catholic News Agency. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/knights-of-columbus-support-mexican-bishops-freedom-of-expression/>.

Mexico | Catholic Relief Services ." Catholic Relief Services. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://crs.org/mexico/partners.cfm>.

Windley Daoust, Jerry. Living Justice and Peace: Catholic Social Teaching. 2nd ed. Saint Mary's Press, 2008. Print.


Brian Feliciano

Catholic Social Teaching in Mexico

    Catholicism, being the dominant religion in Mexico, impacts the daily lives of its people. Mexico is constantly going through trials and tribulations, with rising poverty rates and growing population of drug lords and gangs. The people of Mexico rely on the teachings of the Catholic Church to guide them and influence their perspectives on these issues. Amid all of the turmoil and troubles surrounding the country, Catholic Social Teaching can be seen in Mexico through aid with poverty, violence prevention, and state control.

    As Mexico’s economy is spiraling down, Catholic charities try to provide for the poor. More and more Mexicans are left with no opportunities for education and leaving them jobless, homeless, and without food.
    “The statistics are truly staggering - according to the World Bank, 53 percent of Mexico’s population is poor (living on less than $2 per day), while close to 24 percent is extremely poor (living on less than $1 per day).  According to a recent  Bread for the World report, 5.1 million Mexicans are undernourished and 18%  of all children under the age of 5 suffer from stunting.  Malnutrition and hunger are very real problems for many of the families living in Mexico today” (Charity:Catholic World Mission is Mexico)
For the common good of society, the Church teaches that the community must help their most vulnerable members. All Catholics are called to reach out to the poor because their pain impacts the community.
    “A consistent theme of Catholic social teaching is the option or love of preference     for the poor. Today, this preference has to be expressed in worldwide dimensions, embracing the immense numbers of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care, and those without hope” (Soclicitudo Rei Socialis Official     Text).
Catholic charities throughout Mexico are hard at work trying to end poverty and hunger. One in particular, Catholic World Mission, created Mano Amiga Nutrition Program, which strives to feed and help undernourished children and their families in Puebla, Mexico.  This program will help these children to work productively in school and aid their families in attaining a stable living. Catholic Social Teaching not only plays a role on the welfare of the poor, but in the issues surrounding the safety of the people.

    As violence grows in Mexico due to drugs and gangs, bishops of Mexico and the people band together to promote peace. “Fifteen people were shot dead in separate incidents in a single day in the northern Mexican border state of Nuevo Leon, as the country's wave of drug violence showed no sign of ebbing” (AFP: Fifteen Killed in Mexico Violence). Catholic Social Teaching promotes peace and acting together as a community. The Bishops’ Conference of Mexico issued a statement calling all Mexican Catholics to work together and pray for end to violence in the country.
     “The bishops said that now “is an appropriate time to give thanks to God for the gifts the Lord has granted to our homeland.”  They also urged the faithful “to call for a recognition of the injustices that have been committed," to remember those "who have died from the violence and to renew our commitment to a Mexico of  peace and justice.” The bishops ended their message urging Mexican Catholics to pray that “we, as a nation, might achieve peace and cultivate the great ideals of  our forefathers."(Bishops Encourage Efforts to End Violence in Mexico).
Catholic Social Teaching sets up a standard moral code for the Mexicans and helps them to recognize the injustice in society. In order to provide a healthy living environment. Catholics are trying to ensure a world of peace rather than violence.

    With all of the violence and poverty accumulating in Mexico, the government tries to attain control and assume their role. According to Catholic Social Teaching, government’s role in the community is to protect the rights of the people and provide for the people. In Mexico, the government is starting to regulate the state with hopes of ending poverty,  removing gangs and stopping the violence. Despite their good intentions, the government is using excessive force on the people in attempt to control them.
    “Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez of Tuxtla, Mexico recently warned that the government should not regulate everything, but rather act with generosity and service toward those who suffer most”  (Mexican Bishop Highlights Importance     of Love, Warns of Excessive State Control).
Working against the people and trying to restrict them will only cause more tension. The effectiveness of Catholic Social Teaching in the lives of the Mexicans is that it sets up the roles of the community.
    “The teachings of the Church insist that government has a moral function: protecting human rights and securing basic justice for all members of the commonwealth. Society as a whole and in all its diversity is responsible for building up the common good. But it is the government's role to guarantee the minimum conditions that make this rich social activity possible, namely, human rights and justice” (Major Themes).
Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez brings to light Catholic ideals towards the government and role in the community. Catholic Social Teaching recognizes the efforts of the government as a way to guide Mexicans in positive direction.

    Catholic Social Teaching affects Mexicans in the way they think and deal with problems in their country. With all of the poverty, Catholic charities are willing to help feed the hungry and give an option to the most poor and vulnerable. Catholic ideals are also reflected in role of the government and issues of drug violence. Catholic Social Teaching affects the lives of the Mexican people everyday by helping them thrive in the most important aspects of the community such as helping the poor, stopping violence, and recognizing the government‘s role.

"AFP: Fifteen Killed in Mexico Violence." Google. AFP, 12 May 2011. Web. 1 May 2011.                           <http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5igfEtiFAhPS3C-

"Bishops Encourage Efforts to End Violence in Mexico :: EWTN News." Catholic News from EWTN Catholic Television Network. Web. 15 May 2011. <http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Americas.php?id=434>.

"Charity: Catholic World Mission in Mexico." Catholic.net - Catholics on the Net. Catholic.net, 4 Aug. 2008. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.catholic.net/index.php?option=dedestaca>.

"Mexican Bishop Highlights Importance of Love, Warns of Excessive State Control :: EWTN News." Catholic News from EWTN Catholic Television Network. Web. 15 May 2011. <http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Americas.php?id=2637>.
Pope John Paull II. "Soclicitudo Rei Socialis Official Text." Catholic Charities' Office for Social Justice. Web. 15 May 2011. <http://www.osjspm.org/majordoc_soclicitudo_rei_socialis_official_text.aspx>.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Catholicism and Its Influence On Mexico

            Mexico has been a predominantly Catholic nation since the religion was first brought to it by Hernan Cortes during the age of exploration.  Because over seventy five percent of the population is Catholic, Catholicism and Catholic social teaching undoubtedly has a great effect on the people of Mexico.  Catholicism plays a role in determining the legitimacy of law, in influencing society about drug cartels and crime, and is a unifying factor for the Mexican people.
            For the entire period before Mexico gained independence, there was always a strong union of church and state, with the two almost being inseparable at times.  However, many anti-clerical laws were put in place soon after Mexico gained independence.  Recently however, the state began ignoring anti-clerical laws and then eventually repealed them, thus allowing the Catholic Church much more freedom.  Modern day challenges have also encouraged the Catholic Church to step back into the limelight in Mexico: 
“Motivated in part by the evangelical challenge, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church has sought greater visibility, speaking out on sensitive public issues and ignoring constitutional bans on clerical involvement in politics. These actions ultimately led in 1992 to dramatic constitutional changes and a resumption of diplomatic relations with the Vatican.” (Merrill, Miró)
The article then continues on to say that while the Church does not associate itself with political parties, “ …the church hierarchy…argues that priests have a moral responsibility to denounce actions that violate Christian morality.”  The Church continues to speak about political issues, despite government laws prohibiting such activities.  The Catholic Church has worked to secure religious freedom in Mexico.  In addition, many devout Catholic politicians are constantly on the lookout for their Church and regard its opinion and teaching very highly (Lenchek). 
            Catholicism has greatly influenced people’s thinking concerning the drug cartels and high crime rate in Mexico.  Christians, both laymen and clergy, attempt to pacify the drug wars and speak out against criminal acts of violence and fighting between the groups.  They also aid families that have been affected and help them meet their needs.  (Jenkins).  One cardinal actually came up with a way to end the crises permanently.  The head of the Mexican church, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, has opened the door to reforming Mexico's drug laws, suggesting that the issue must be re-framed as a public health problem rather than a matter for the criminal law" (Jenkins).  However, the Catholic Church does not remain spotless when concerning these drug battles.  Many clergy members have taken drug money and used it to make repairs on parishes and to fund welfare programs for the poor and peasants. (Jenkins)  There are also many corrupt of "saints" that are venerated by drug cartels as patrons of their criminal practices.  Therefore, while Christians act out nobly in many ways in Mexico, they also have some corruptions to address.
            The Catholic Church and teaching also serves as a unifier for all Mexican people.  Despite any conflicts that may have occurred, a majority of the population in Mexico has always remained Catholic and is strongly rooted in their Catholic faith.  As said by Lenchek, “As Mexico moves toward Democracy, old political alliances may crumble, but the strength and sincerity of their religious beliefs will always sustain the people.”  One example of the unifying role is the devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, a story which is hundreds of years old, yet the devotion remains strong.  Other devotions remain strong as well:  “The UNAM national opinion poll found, for example, that nine out of ten Mexicans continued to ask intercessions from the Virgin or a saint”.  Today, Mexico is quite diverse in its beliefs within Catholicism, with some resorting to more traditional rituals, to many who believe in “liberation theory” (Merrill, Miró). Despite the fact that Catholic practice and belief is quite varied in modern day Mexico, these various beliefs still all claim to be Catholic in name and thus it remains as the foundation of most Mexican people. 
            Catholicism has played a large role in the lives of Mexicans, due to the fact that well over a majority of the people claim to be practicing Catholics.  Catholic clergy in Mexico strongly guide the political opinions of Mexicans, as well as provide direction and support for people caught in the drug crisis and help unite people in this time of political and economic instability.  Should the Catholic Church be more assertive and political authorities hold the Church’s judgment in higher authority, progress could be made towards peace and recovery in many aspects of Mexican society. 
Jenkins, Philip. "Mexico’s Crisis of Faith." The Christian Century. 10 May 2011. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2011-03/mexico-s-crisis-faith>.
Lenchek, Shep. "The Catholic Church in Mexico, Triumphs and Traumas : Mexico History." Access Mexico Connect - Current Issue - The Electronic Magazine All about Mexico. Shep Lenchek, 1 Jan. 2000. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/668-the-catholic-church-in-mexico-triumphs-and-traumas>.
Merrill, Tim L., and Ramón Miró. "Religion." Country Studies. 1996. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://countrystudies.us/mexico/>.

Vincent Viola

Where is Catholic Social Teaching in Mexico?

In this day and age, most countries purposefully separate law and religion. However, there are still moral and ethical practices that must be taken into consideration in every nation. This being said, as of 2000, 76.5 percent of Mexicans had declared themselves as Roman Catholics (Background Note). Despite the vast majority of those who affiliate themselves with the Catholic Church, some of the major principles of Catholic Social Teaching have not been carried out and are not practiced at all in various areas in Mexico. It is evident that those in power often do not even follow the moral laws that govern most of the Mexican people. For instance, there is a fair number of Mexicans who lack access to clean water, who are manipulated by their union, and who are adversely affected by widespread drug trafficking.
The Catholic Church teaches that the needs of the poor and vulnerable should be put ahead of all others. According to the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, “President Calderon has actively promoted international human rights and democracy and sought to increase Mexico’s participation in international affairs” (Background Note). However, it is plausible that this interest in international relations has made it easier for giant corporations such as Coca Cola to exploit the Mexican people and their resources. While “helping” the Mexican economy, such companies are draining the country of its natural resources and the quality of life of the people. Those who do not have access to water are forced to buy other beverages, which is very costly and unhealthy for those who only make just enough money to survive and who already live on poor diets. In light of Catholic Social Teaching, both the Mexican government and these abusive companies are at fault for endangering the welfare of the people who are already considered to be “poor and vulnerable” (Seven Key Themes).
According to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, people have the right to organize and join unions, but the Mexican governments and many private employers prevent Mexicans from this basic tenant. “On paper, Mexico’s workers have had one of the best labor laws in the world since the adoption of the Constitution of 1917, which gave workers the right to organize unions and established protective legislation” (Union-Busting). However, “Mexican unions continue to undergo a process of realignment and reorganization as workers and their allies seek new tactics and strategies to defend their rights and improve their standard of living in the face of globalization” These people have been repressed by unions that they were not even aware that they were a part of. “Mexico’s Department of Labor, labor boards, and its courts have cooperated with the government, employers, and 'official' labor unions to prevent the creation of independent unions, stop democratic movements, prevent strikes, and in general maintain labor peace”. Those who were in “ghost unions” have been fighting against the system for decades, but only now are activists in Mexico making progress towards labor rights that they should have had all along. In the past year, “twenty-one of thirty unions from the FSTSE formed the Democratic Federation of Unions of Public Servants (FEDESSP)” which gives workers more rights to their own working conditions (Union Busting).
Drug trafficking in Mexico has become a significant problem, despite its monetary benefit to those who have jobs connected to the multifaceted web of the drug business. Since drug trafficking has become so widespread in Mexico, the government has focused its police and military efforts towards enforcing its anti-drug programs. “Drug control now dominates the Mexican criminal justice system, with the majority of the federal budget for the administration of justice devoted to the effort” (Andreas). Although this is a necessary action, it takes away a large amount of funding from social reforms and other community programs. This not only damges the day-to-day lives of Mexican individuals, but it completely shifts the priorities of the politicians in Mexico's government. In effect, the Catholic Social Teaching principle of "Call to Family, Community, and Participation" is unfulfilled because the Mexican government is oganized in a way that hinders the growth of its citizens. (Seven Key Themes) 
In no way, shape, or form should Mexico ever be a theocracy, but it is necessary for there to be some type of guiding moral law for the government and other powerful influences in every country to follow. Catholic Social Teaching provides a standard for how all people should be treated with respect and dignity. It is imperative for these governments to control how corporations interact with their people and to intervene when the people or the land are being exploited. While the Mexican government does try to use its funding to control illegal practices such as drug trafficking, it then under-funds necessary social programs. With the integration of more funds and stronger social programs in Mecixo, the principles of Catholic Social Teaching could be revitalized, to bring even more justice to this country ravaged by repressive monopolies and drug cartels.

Andreas, Peter . "The Political Economy of Narco-Corruption in Mexico." Brown University Website. Brown University, n.d. Web. 13 May 2011. www.brown.edu/Departments/Political_Science/people/documents/ThePoliticalEconomyofNarco-CorruptioninMexico.pdf

"Background Note: Mexico." U.S. Department of State. N.p., 14 Dec. 2010. Web. 16 May 2011. http://www.state/gov/r/pa/ei/bgn

"Mexico’s Labor Movement in Transition :: Monthly Review." Monthly Review, An Independent Socialist Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2011. http://monthlyreview.org/2005/06/01/mexicos-labor-movement-in-transition

"Seven Key Themes of Catholic Social Teaching." USCCB: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2011. http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/projects  

"Union-Busting Bill Stopped by Union Action—in Mexico | Labor Notes." Labor Notes | Putting the Movement Back in the Labor Movement. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 May 2011. http://www.labornotes.org/2011/04/union-busting-bill-stopped-union-action-mexico

Liz Newton

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Coca-Cola: The Savage Quest for Liquid Money

            Coca-Cola is delicious. This is what many people who drink the beverage would say if they were not being exploited. Yet, this is not the case in Mexico; in Mexico, citizens, while also being exploited in terms of labor, are indirectly forced to drink Coca-Cola because of the lack of water supply due to Coca-Cola’s use of it. In order to perform such debasing acts, Coca-Cola is affiliated with political parties and advertises extensively throughout Mexico. Thus, in order to make a profit, Coca-Cola exploits the citizens of Mexico by depriving them of water and wages through its connection with the government and advertisements that will inevitably delay Mexico’s advancement in the future.

            The citizens of Mexico have been abused with regards to Coca-Cola’s search for a more cost-efficient company.

“Coca-Cola is positioning itself to take control of the water resources of the war-torn Mexican state of Chiapas, say local activists, who complain that the company has pressured local government officials into using preferential zoning laws to allow the privatisation of water resources. Chiapas is rich in water, yet local communities have protested at being denied access to it. The Chiapas-based Centre for Economic and Political Investigations of Community Action (CIEPAC) claims that the Mexican government under Vicente Fox – himself a former President of Coca-Cola Mexico – has given the company concessions to exploit community water resources. Campaigners from around the world have also expressed concern that Coca-Cola is one of the main sponsors of the World Water Forum in Mexico City in March 2006” (Zacune).

Thus, not only is Coca-Cola exploiting the Mexican citizens’ water, but is also associated with the government, which is in full support of such atrocities and the subjugation of its people in terms of profit for Coca-Cola. By allowing such acts to occur, not only is the government becoming corrupt, but so too is society if no one acts to stop Coca-Cola, which is infringing upon the people’s water supply and thus where their money culminates.

            As the Mexican citizens lack the water necessary to satisfy their thirst, they revert to purchasing Coca-Cola. This occurs because of “the purchase of water previously belonging to ejidos for Coca-Cola’s private use, depriving indigenous communities of lands and access to water. In the production of bottles alone, Coca-Cola uses the equivalent of the water consumed by 223 families” (Sipaz). Coca-Cola disregards the concern of other families, purchases bottles, and makes use of the water, whether it is to make liters of Coca-Cola or for “the contamination of water and the sale of contaminated water” (Sipaz). This in turn leads people to spend their money on the only form of beverages available, mainly Coca-Cola, as “Mexico has the highest per capita consumption of Coke in the world” (Lydersen). This is evident in that “in indigenous communities, a person spends up to 17.5% of the daily minimum wage on Coca-Cola products” (Sipaz). The lifestyle of a person is dictated by the Coca-Cola Company; the money a person makes is spent on Coca-Cola products due to the indirect cause of Coca-Cola’s consumption of the water, which is approved by the government. Thus, if approximately one-fifth of the money goes towards a single consumer good annually, surely it will have detrimental effects in the future as the economy of Mexico is focusing on mass purchasing rather than mass exportation or the purchasing of goods domestically.
Coca-Cola assumes domination over society through its advertisements and manipulation of stores.

“In San Juan Chamula, Coca-Cola has attained a religious significance, replacing traditional beverages in their sacred cleansing rituals. This love affair with Coke is in part due to the vast amounts of money spent on advertising in Mexico, some 500 million USD annually. In addition, Coca-Cola asserts their hold on the market in more insidious ways, by imposing quotas on small shop owners in return for gifts such as tables, chairs and refrigerators, all emblazoned with the Coca-Cola insignia, of course” (Wooters).

            Coca-Cola has finally gotten to the point in which it has intruded upon the cultures of people and changed it. The omnipotence and omnipresence of Coca-Cola has created a society focused on and revolving around this soft drink beverage. This is exemplified by Ms. Chavez and her case against Coca-Cola:

“Big Cola [a newly created rival product from Peru] was instantly popular in Ms. Chavez's deprived suburb as it is significantly cheaper than Coke and the other big name soft drink brands. When a Coca-Cola distributor told Ms. Chavez to remove the product from her shelves, she went to Mexico's Federal Competition Commission…Now three years later, Coca-Cola's Mexican unit - Coca-Cola Export Corporation - and a number of its distributors and bottlers have been hit with fines of $68m” (BBC).

In this case, Coca-Cola is imposing quotas upon this woman in return for Coca-Cola not interfering with her business. Coca-Cola does not want other companies infringing upon their beverages because they want to monopolize the area in Mexico and reap all possible profits, regardless of whom they are antagonizing. Thus, such actions are affecting the society and economy of Mexico by changing it to one concentrated on and dominated by Coca-Cola.

            Coca-Cola manages to control the political, social, and economic aspects of society simply through its products and influence to better its quest for profits despite the detrimental current and future effects. The lack of water and the constant appearances of advertisements lead the average Mexican citizen to purchase Coca-Cola products. Such results will result in the government becoming corrupt and affiliated with big businesses; the people in society being dominated by a business rather than a government and; the retardation of the economy. Coca-Cola leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of Mexican citizens where that of sweetness should exist.

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Lyderson, Kari. “Coca Cola- Latin America’s Second Religion.” India Resource Center. 28 May 2002. Web. 08 May 2011. <http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2003/cocacolalatinamerica.htm>
Wooters, Monica. "Coca-Cola and Water Resources in Chiapas | Colectivos De Apoyo, Solidaridad Y Acción." Welcome | Colectivos De Apoyo, Solidaridad Y Acción. Creative Commons, Mar. 2008. Web. 08 May 2011. <http://www.casacollective.org/story/newsletter/coca-cola-and-water-resources-chiapas>.
Zacune, Joe. "Coca Cola: The Alternative Report." Waronwant.org. War on Want, Mar. 2006. Web. 08 May 2011. <http://www.waronwant.org/attachments/Coca-Cola%20-%20The%20Alternative%20Report.pdf>.

Paul Popa