Friday, May 6, 2011

The Exploitation of Mexico's Water Resources, People, and Government

International commercial corporations have incredible amounts of power to influence people worldwide, both culturally and financially. Although the effects of their presence vary depending on the country or region, they are usually harmful. The Coca Cola Company is one business that has taken the size of their bottom line to the extreme. Since its establishment in Mexico, the Coca Cola Company has abused its monopolistic power and exploited the Mexican people and Mexico’s natural resources.  The detrimental effects that Coca Cola has yielded upon Mexico has, over the past two decades, established a national health problem and crippled soft drink competitors, as well as cheated the Mexican government and Coca Cola employees out of millions of tax dollars.  

Due to the fact that potable water is limited in Mexico, it has always been difficult to supply every citizen with water. This issue has been exacerbated by Coca Cola’s greed as it privatizes as many water sources as possible by pressuring Mexico to manipulate its zoning laws (The Alternative Report). It takes at least two liters of water to produce one liter of soda. Since Coca Cola has reduced the abundance of water sources, there is an even greater need than ever before, with twelve million people [about eleven percent of the population] without access to drinkable water (The Alternative Report). “The impact that Coca-Cola has had on the water supply in Mexico, and more specifically in Chiapas, is astounding, and has created a crisis that shows no sign of improving” (Wooters). It is obvious that many Mexicans have resorted to one of the only sources of clean drinking water: soft drinks. Unfortunately, many Mexicans are unaware of how unhealthy, even dangerous, it can be to regularly drink large amounts of soda. As an example of how influential Coca Cola is that “struggling people, unaware of the ill effects of the soft drinks, will sell the healthy things that they grow on the land, like corn, beans and eggs from chickens to buy cola, which they eventually become addicted to” (Coke's Crimes). This resource monopolization simultaneously creates a scarce water supply and a conveniently abundant Coke supply. It is estimated that one in ten Mexicans have developed chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure from excess consumption of products such as Coca Cola, which contains high fructose corn syrup. Problems such as these are not easily remedied and will negatively influence the health of the Mexican people for decades to come.   

            Coca Cola has not only been a hindrance to the health of Mexican citizens, but also financially impacted the government and their own employees. Mexico has a law stating that corporations must distribute ten percent of their profits among their employees. In order to avoid distributing millions of dollars in profits to their Mexican workers, Coca Cola found a more lucrative solution:
The Coca-Cola Export Corporation created a new company in 1986. This new company, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Export Corporation was named Integrated Services Management and Senior Management (SIAAGSA). The Coca-Cola Export Corporation then fired all its employees in Mexico and hired them back immediately into SIAAGSA. SIAAGSA will always show little to no profit. (Coke's Crimes)
Absurd and callous actions such as these have seriously hindered Mexico’s economy. The millions of tax dollars and profit percentages that Coca Cola has withheld from the Mexican government and Coca Cola employees through the past twenty-five years would have given Mexico the boost it had needed to recover from the severe recession in the 1980s. Additionally, such funds would have made it possible for the Mexican government to establish more civil services and citizen benefits. The loss of tax revenue and some citizens has negatively impacted Mexico’s economy to the point where monopoly powers such as Coca Cola are more powerful than the government in some areas. If Coca Cola continues to gain power and influence over Mexico's government in order to cheat the people out of their money, the company will financially ruin Mexico in the near future.
           
            Aside from diminishing Mexico’s revenue, Coca Cola also undermines weaker competitors. This corporation is unjustly monopolizing the market by preventing independent and small chain soft drink producers from making a profit. When a small soft drink chain named Big Cola began stocking local stores with their products in 2002, Coca Cola reacted aggressively. “Coca-Cola decided to kill off this upstart business by unleashing an aggressive and illegal marketing effort - providing incentives for shop owners to remove competing brands and threatening to punish them if they didn't” (Coke's Crimes). This type of explicit abuse is deplorable because it discourages small businesses and promotes monopolies such as Coca Cola. Marketing is a necessary aspect of business, but ensuring sales by removing other brands in thousands of stores throughout Mexico is plainly illegitimate. Coke's sales force would order shop owners to remove Big Cola or else lose all promotional gifts and offers and eventually lose their coolers and be cut off from renewing supplies of Coke” (Coke's Crimes). Coca Cola is a huge, monopolistic monster that undermines the business endeavors of competitors by illegal means. It will stop at nothing to reach its goal of making the largest profit possible. This indicates that entrepreneurs and small bussiness owners must either side with Coca Cola or be financially ruined. The Coca Cola monopoly will destroy anyone who stands in its way and that will eventually be Mexico altogether.

            The Coca Cola Company has ruthlessly exploited the Mexican land and people for more than two decades. By taking advantage of Mexico’s limited water supplies and scheming to prevent their precious profits from being distributed fairly among their hardworking employees, Coca Cola is destroying a nation’s natural resources and its economy. Although it is impossible to determine how severely Coca Cola has negatively impacted Mexico through its selfish exploitation, it is clear that this company cares only about their overall profit and not about its detrimental impact in countries with weak economies and governments, such as Mexico. Despite the severity of these issues, it appears that Coca Cola will continue taking advantage of the Mexican people, who will suffer from these health and economic effects for many decades to come. Unfortunately, by the time the Mexican people realize how detrimental Coca Cola is for them, for their health and economy, the company will have done permanent damage. Unless the Coca Cola monster is tamed immediately, Mexico will experience a long downward spiral, and at the bottom will be the end of Mexico and Coca Cola will continue monopolizing other countries across the globe.  


"Coca-Cola: The Alternative Report." War on Want. N.p., 30 Nov. 2005. Web. 5 May 2011. <www.waronwant.org/attachments/Coca-Cola%20-%20The%20Alternative%20Report.pdf>.

"Coke's Crimes in Mexico." Killer Coke. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 May 2011. <killercoke.org/crimes_mexico.php>

Wooters, Monica. "Coca-Cola and Water Resources in Chipas." CASA. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2011. <www.casacollective.org/story/newsletter/coca-cola-and-water-resources-chiapas >.

Liz Newton

9 comments:

  1. Although this essay made some very valid points regarding the monopolization of Mexico's economy and the exploitation of its limited water sources, it only referred to one side of Coca-Cola's involvement in the Mexican government. Coca-Cola was heavily involved in the election of political positions. They assisted political elites to power to ensure their control over the Mexican people. So despite the fact that they cheated workers and Mexico from tax revenues, Coca-Cola had a huge role in Mexican government. But overall, this essay was very informative on the social issues concerning the people's health and mistreatment and the economic issues of Coca-Cola's monopolization of Mexico's economy. The most daunting fact included in the essay was the Coca-Cola exploitation of Mexico's water supply and the long lasting disastrous effects it will have on the people and their health.

    ~Jenna Anne Chan

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  2. While many important controversies regarding the coca cola company's influence in Mexico, there is an underestimation of the consequences of the Coca Cola Company's influence in Mexico. The country will not just come to financial ruin, but will rather become completely stationary in terms of development on all fronts. The Coca Cola Company not only has economic control, but also political and social control. Should this control increase, the company could be elevated to a position of a quasi-dictator.

    The social consequences dig much deeper than poor health among mexican people. Advertising has reached a point of indoctrination and is inescapable. Even though Coca Cola is not even close to a monopoly in the United States, the numbers for Americans who develop the same health problems listed for Mexican people are similarly high. The freedom of the Mexican peoples is really what is at stake. The choice should be there's as to what they want to drink. The excessive ads placed all over, including school yards and parks, force Coca Cola upon the Mexican people at a young age, almost to a point of mind control.

    Coca Cola is also a strong force on the political front. While the Mexican government is cheated and deprived of precious revenue, a more important problem is that Coca Cola is slowly becoming the Mexican government. For the past few decades, Coca Cola has been used to promote various political election candidates and kept the power in the PRA's hands for years. Then, as soon as the PRA lost in 2000, the president was a former Coca Cola executive. If these trends continue, then Mexico will have to face Coca Cola not only as a monopoly, but also as a dictator who controls the society and halts development on all fronts as long as there is revenue to be made.

    Vincent Viola

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  3. In response to the thought that there is a lack of political information: it is important to realize that this type of manipulation occurs in every country. Lobbyists influence political parties and the outcomes of elections from the way they promote their own ideals. Obviously, Coca Cola has stepped quite far over the line, using illegitimate means to a self-centered end, but it even this not the most alarming aspect of this corporation's presence in Mexico.

    The manner in which Coca Cola is gaining power is through intimidating its competitors and limiting water resources, in order to force the Mexican people to buy their products. Not only is this underhanded, but it is a direct effort to control the Mexico's economy until it is dependent on Coca Cola. This company would not become a dictator. Coca Cola would be more akin to an imperialist country: all it seeks are its colony's resources and a profit from the exploitation of those resources. In this case, Coca Cola is exploiting Mexico’s water sources in order to make its lucrative soft drink products.

    Liz Newton
    (sorry for deleting the comment above, I forgot to add my name)

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  4. Because Coca-Cola has accumulated such an enormous amount of power both politically and economically in Mexico, it is valid in stating that the Mexican people are left with no other choice for a clean drinking beverage. However, it is not valid in stating that the Mexican people are entirely unaware of the effects of this beverage. After studies have shown that one of of every ten people in Mexico is diagnosed with some sort of disorder whether it be diabetes, obesity, etc., it is highly unlikely that the people have not witnessed such detriment within their societies. They may be aware of the damage that the soft drink is causing, but may have to consume this drink for means of survival.
    Although the economic and social problems have been greatly depicted within, it is important to acknowledge the future of politics within Mexico. With just the political campaigning that Coca-Cola has done for PRI by distributing free bottles of coke in exchange for votes, it is evident that the Company knows how to sway those who have power within Mexico. Because Coca-Cola has managed to cheat the Mexican people out of their deserved tax revenues, they can easily persuade those within government with a bribe that is otherwise never paid to Mexico. If Coca-Cola continues to exist within the Mexican government soon the government will dissolve and Mexico will find itself essentially being run by the world's largest soft drink company.

    Brian Felciano

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    Replies
    1. How do you know that Coca-Cola has distributed free bottles of coke in exchange for votes? I'd love to see this evidence so I can use it in my thesis on this issue!

      Delete
  5. The issues of intervention in government and employees, water deprivation, and monopolization are all addressed. Monopolization leads to such power for Coca-Cola to do as it pleases in terms of taxes and wages with the government and employees. It also plans to be the only dominate soft beverage distributor.

    Yet, the issue of Coca-Cola being affiliated with the government other than money is not addressed. The power of Coca-Cola allows for it to dominate the government in another sense - by affecting decisions made on the citizens of Mexico. Coca-Cola has influenced the government to allow it to drain the water supply while also distributing contaminated water. Advertisements as well have played a part in affecting the mindsets of the citizens. Such reoccurring images of Coca-Cola leads one to believe that he is dominated by Coca-Cola as well as to purchase such products.

    Paul Popa

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  6. The declining health of the Mexican population is a direct result of Coca Cola imposing its soft drinks on the people. It is true that some people are aware that Coca Cola poses health risks. However, many people still choose to buy and consume these toxic beverages. There remains a large percentage of Mexicans who do not understand how bad Coca Cola is for their health and how it can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, tooth decay, and diabetes. Even those who live in the United States ignore the health risks, if they are aware of them at all, and indulge in Coca Cola. It is unfortunate that Coca Cola leaves Mexicans in a vulnerable position by leaving no choice but for the people to drink Coca Cola. By forcing their product on the people, they are directly causing these severe health problems.

    It is valid to express that the political influence that Coca Cola has in Mexico can become dangerous if not controlled. However, boycott groups and political groups who oppose Coca Cola’s negative impact in Mexico will not allow this corporation to completely control the Mexican government. However, if Coca Cola is not kept in check, it can potentially continue aiding its benefactors into positions of power in Mexico. It is also important to note that Coca Cola has and will continue to psychologically influence people through its overabundant advertising, which reinforces people’s desire for Coca Cola products.

    Liz Newton

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