Sunday, May 8, 2011

Coca-Cola's Exploitation of Mexico

     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. <>.

Ewing, Robin. "Cola Consumption and the Chamula Indians." Robin Ewing. 7 Dec. 2004. Web. 07 May 2011.<>.

~Jenna Anne Chan



  1. Although there are many variables that impact the excessive consumption of Coca Cola, the high cost of this product is not one of them. According to Kari Lyderson, “Coke is very expensive for the average wage earner in most Latin American countries. Whether in Mexico, Ecuador or Honduras, a one-serving bottle will often cost between 40 and 70 cents, while the average worker only makes $5 a day or less” (Lyderson). These statistics are horrific, considering the fact that the average Mexican drinks at least a bottle of Coca Cola daily (Killer Coke). Not only are these people throwing away their health by consuming soft drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine, but they are also wasting their hard earned wages. Despite the fact that Coca Cola products cost so much, unknowing Mexicans believe it is safer and better to buy soda rather than seek other sources of hydration. Many are unaware of the health hazards until they are addicted and it is too late to undo the damage.
    Since the price is so high for Coca Cola, those who indulge in the sweet beverage give up other necessities, such as a meal for that day, which for some, is a meal given up every day. The consumption of Coca Cola is so extreme is some areas that malnutrition has become quite widespread. This is especially concerning in certain areas such as Chipas, where Coca Cola has become an integral part of their religious ceremonies. “Chipas has one of the highest rates of both malnutrition and Coke consumption in Mexico” (Bell). The fact that religious leaders have been able to manipulate the people of Chipas so easily also demonstrates how naïve they are. The evidence is clear: present an “amazing” product to people and they will gladly go out of their way to buy it. Coca Cola is simply too accessible and enjoyable to resist. However, Coca Cola will eventually destroy the health and the already declining economy of the Mexican people.

    Bell, Beverly. "Cola Wars in Mexico." Other Worlds. 3 Jan. 2009. Web. 8 May 2011.
    Lyderson, Kari. “Coca Cola- Latin America’s Second Religion.” India Resource Center. 28 May, 2002. Web. 8 May 2011.

    Liz Newton

  2. Valid health concerns of Mexican people and illegitimate marketing techniques have been addressed. Nevertheless, there are more and greater issues that are left out, such as the deprivation of freedom of the Mexican people and illegal monopolistic practices of the Coca Cola Company. The Coca Cola Company has great influence beyond the Caciques and the Chamulas, regarding all people that live in Mexico. A constant bombardment of advertisements reaches all people of Mexico, as well as illegal monopolistic practices that deprive Mexicans of their freedoms in addition to health.

    The Coca Cola Company has an objective to eliminate all competition in the soft drink industry, as well as to use manipulative strategies on customers. Therefore, not only is the Coca Cola company attempting to sell as much as possible and cause health problems, but deprive Mexicans of their economic freedom. They do this through strong advertising in almost every public place as well, indoctrinating the people into buying Coke physically and mentally. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed so that Mexican people have the option to choose other drinks other than Coke, regardless of nutritional value, before progress can be made towards healthier beverages. On a final note, these problems reach far more people than just one specific group, making it a much more pressing issue than the corruption of local Native religious practices.

    Vincent Viola

  3. Although the health issues that result from excessive drinking of Coca-Cola products is important to acknowledge, it is also important to emphasize that The Coca-Cola Company's number one motivator is not destruction of health in Mexico, but rather profit. This essay properly informs the social issues that the Mexican people currently face and will face in the future while detailing that the Coca-Cola Company acted for means of control, which thus resulted negative health disadvantages.
    However, this essay sets up the group excellently for Part 2 of the task in analyzing Mexico. By introducing the importance of Coke in ritual use in the religion of the Chamulas, the group will be better prepared to form solutions through religion because a connection between religion and the Coca-Cola company has already been established. Highlighting specific groups within Mexico gives a more tangible insight into the demoralizing actions of the Company on a poverty-stricken people.

    Brian Feliciano

  4. The issues of health concerns, societal infringement, and government corruption are all exploitations of Mexico by Coca-Cola. This is a correct assumption, especially Coca-Cola's involvement with the government, which leads to such exploitation of workers and the depletion of water, which in turn leads to the indirect necessity of purchasing Coca-Cola products to satisfy their thirst.

    Yet, the issue of being the only dominate soft beverage company throughout Mexico goes unnoticed. Mexico plans to dominate the competition through its affiliation with the government, use of advertisements, and use of restrictions upon stores. The President Fox of Mexico has worked for Coca-Cola for approximately 15 years, thus contributing to its causes and demands. Advertisements are essential for Coca-Cola because they create a society in which seeing Coca-Cola advertisements are commonplace and as such, a common product to be purchased. Stores, such as that of Ms. Chevez, have been attacked due to Coca-Cola's want of dominance in markets as the only dominant producer of soft beverages.

  5. Coca-Cola's monopolization and exploitation of Mexico is very much an economic issue that CONCERNS the welfare of the people. Although more social issues were discussed, the fact of the matter is that economic ventures of Coca-Cola were only causes to the many long lasting effects it had on the Mexican people. It is agreed that the essay should have included more emphasis on the economic effects like destruction of Mexico's economy and the growing poverty of the people. But really all economic aspects of Coca-Cola's exploitation were causes tumbling into the long lasting effects it had on the people and government. Like a domino effect, the actions of the Coca-Cola Company as a business had greater damage on the health and lives of the people and the future of Mexico's government.

    Jenna Anne Chan