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kottke.org posts about Julianna Villarosa

I’d Like to Deprive the World of Water (to Make More Coca-Cola)

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2020

For her video “The Real Thing”, filmmaker Julianna Villarosa used footage of Coca-Cola’s famous “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial ruined by pouring Coke on VHS and film copies to draw attention to the company’s water privatization practices in Chiapas, Mexico, where there’s a water shortage on. From the video:

The Chiapas Highlands, one of Mexico’s wettest regions, has a water shortage. Many drink Coca-Cola, which is bottled nearby and often easier to find than clean water. On average, residents drink more than half a gallon of soda per day. Indigenous Tzotzil use Coca-Cola in religious ceremonies and medicinal treatments. Diabetes has become the second-leading cause of death in Chiapas. The local Coca-Cola plant extracts more than 300,000 gallons of water per day.

Simple, direct, and brilliant activist art — Villarosa uses the company’s literally corrosive product to physically destroy their feel-good advertising to draw attention to the real harm this US company is doing to people & ecosystems around the world. Here’s more on the Chiapas region and the residents’ reliance on Coke:

Coca-Cola’s penetration of the market in Los Altos has also been aided by a strategy of charging less in remote rural areas where a Coke in a returnable glass bottle is often scarcely more expensive than bottled water. As in most of Mexico, clean drinking water is not generally available even to those who can count on running water in their homes, which means many turn to soft drinks for basic hydration.

The irony of this is clear in an area known for its constant downpours and abundant springs, such as the one that attracted the Coca-Cola bottling company. Local activists say the company has so overexploited the spring that the city of San Cristóbal is now facing water shortages.

The activists allege this has been possible in part because Coca-Cola has friends in high political places. Between 2000 and 2006 the country’s president was Vicente Fox, a former head of Coca-Cola Mexico.

It all adds up to a perfect storm of sugar-related health issues in Los Altos. María del Socorro Sánchez, who is in charge of nutrition at the main hospital in San Juan Chamula, says only about one in 10 of the indigenous patients with diabetes accept there is any need to cut out sugar-packed drinks. “They just don’t believe that it is bad for them,” she said.

(via the morning news)