Coca-Cola is seen as a figure of globalization, operating in over 200 countries all over the world. With Mexico as the largest consumer of Coca-Cola per capita worldwide, it is only second to the United States in overall consumption. So why does Coca-Cola sell so much in Mexico? “A number of other factors contribute to high cola-sales. In many places, such as San Chamula, the water is undrinkable. Locals turn to the safety in bottled drinks. For poor under-fed laborers, the high sugar content and caffeine is a cheap, quick energy source. In Mexico’s hot climate, cold colas are appealing for their refreshing quality. Two-thirds of Coke sellers in Mexico receive free refrigerators to hold only Coke products” (Ewing). Coca-Cola focused mainly on exploiting Mexican resources because of the abundance of water and sugar cane. They also realized how easily they could manipulate the native people and the low cost of production. Mexico was like a huge profit making center for Coca-Cola. They used marketing campaigns to lure in the naïve indigenous population while trying to integrate with their religion and culture. Coca-Cola had such an impact on the native people that it began to have power above all else including their health and environment. Not only did Coca-Cola worsen the health and environment of the Mexican people, they also drove them into poverty and corrupted the government. Although Coca-Cola was able to sustain a massive amount of profit off of Mexico, its manipulation of the people resulted in a corrupted government which then led to unsuitable health conditions and destruction of their land.
Coca-Cola has constantly tried to make profit off of Mexico and take advantage of its people by using marketing tactics to lure natives into consuming their product. “High sales are based on a combination of consumption patterns - availability, cost, safety, energy, social prestige, integration with local culture, appeal, and addiction – that are exploited and incorporated into marketing strategies by the Coca-Cola Company” (Ewing). Coca-Cola has promoted their products through specific advertising strategies that promote the growth of these habits. One primary example are the Chamula Indians who not only consume Coke everyday but have integrated it into their religion and culture. “Over the past several decades the caciques—local elites who wield economic and political power and control the soft drink concession—have convinced the faithful that pox should be drunk with Coke or Pepsi, depending on who is doing the proselytizing. They say the cola induces burping, which releases evil from the soul” (Bell). The Chamulas began using Coke in rituals and treated it like a sacred drink of the gods. With the manipulation of the native people, Coca-Cola was able to make profit off of the money these people were willing to spend.
While having a tight grip on the native people, Coca-Cola managed to exploit Mexican land and its natural resources. “Coke is also widely produced in Mexico, an arrangement that is threatening the country’s water supplies and undercutting indigenous control of natural resources. It takes three cups of water to make one cup of Coke” (Bell). As Coca-Cola is using up Mexico’s water supply to produce Coke, they are limiting water for the native people, forcing them to consume more Coke. Health issues like diabetes and obesity began to worsen as more Coke was consumed because of the sugar and caffeine intake.
Marketing strategy was not the only way Coca Cola controlled Mexico, they also took on a political role. They used caciques, influential political leaders, to gain government control. They served as political bosses who granted services in return for Coke. “A few months before each election, caciques begin providing store owners with all their cola products free of charge. In exchange, each store owner will support his cacique-sponsor’s preferred candidate in the local election, which is invariably a choice between two politicians from the Institutionalized Revolutionary Party (PRI). In turn, the customers of each store get all the cola they want for free, provided they vote for the owner’s candidate. This arrangement helps both the caciques and the PRI to retain their hold on power” (Bell). Coca-Cola corrupted the Mexican government by taking up political positions to aid their own endeavors.
In Coca-Cola’s pursuit of profit and economic success, they altered the lives of the native people by exploiting their naïve nature and destroying their land. They used their religion to convince the people of the spiritual necessity for Coke. Also with lack of proper authority, the Mexican people were misguided and the Coca-Cola company easily succeeded in gaining control of the government. By doing this, Coca-Cola took advantage of the country’s natural resources and limited the water supply for the people. Without natural resources to provide a healthy diet, the Mexican people resorted to drinking only Coke which caused a rise in diabetes and obesity. Due to Coca-Cola’s economic venture, Mexico must cope with its depleted resources, disintegrating government, and mistreatment of the people. If Coca-Cola continues their profit making schemes, the people of Mexico will have no control over their own government and land. Their water supply will ultimately be destroyed and the health of the people will plummet.
Bell, Beverly. "Cola Wars in Mexico." In These Times. 6 Oct. 2006. Web. 7 May 2011. <http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2840/>.
Ewing, Robin. "Cola Consumption and the Chamula Indians." Robin Ewing. 7 Dec. 2004. Web. 07 May 2011.< http://www.robinewing.com/Chamula.htm>.
~Jenna Anne Chan