Few relationships are as strong as Chiapas and Coca-Cola. In the state that consumes Coca-Cola most in the world, they drink more than two liters a day. To be exact, it is estimated that Coca drinkers in Chiapas drink 2.25 liters every 24 hours.
This is taken up by Jaime Tomás Page, who recently published in the journal Social Medicine, a case study on Mayan communities whose health condition is affected by the growing cases of diabetes mellitus.
The study of the doctor in anthropology of the center of multidisciplinary research on Chiapas was even mentioned in the week by the National Council of Science and Technology, regarding the excess with which Coca-Cola is taken.
Why do you drink so much Coca-Cola in Chiapas? The reasons are multifactorial, but one of the main clues is the existence of a famous church that occupies the drink for religious rituals. But it’s not just one.
Page says that the promotion of the drink began when chiefs began to profit from concessions granted to soft drink companies. Thus, it has gradually been demonized what was the main drink of Mayan villages in Chiapas, the cane brandy, to be replaced by soft drinks.
According to the researcher, the incorporation of Coca in rituals has given him a ” high status, not only in religious life but also in social and political events .”
The soft drink as heavenly nourishment
Page, has a 2011 study in which he compiles visions of the j’iloletic , (religious leaders who are attributed a cosmic relationship with the universe and deities), who have told him that the brandy is linked to the devil. As previously used in religious rituals, soda is now used to refresh it, as its sweet smell “nourishes” the gods. The populations’ object of the work of Page are tsotsiles and tseltsales of Chamula, Tenejapa and San Cristóbal de las Casas
Understanding this, Page’s conclusion is logical: Coca-Cola is not only consumed for its flavor but because historically it has been favored religiously and politically. It also lists a number of factors that contribute to its excessive consumption, among which are poor education and social pressure.
Page, is clear: with 2.25 liters of Coca-Cola a day, an average of 5,113 calories is obtained, well above what a 50-year-old needs, which is 950 to 1800 calories.
Mexico is already the main consumer of Coca-Cola per capita. While in the United States a person consumes 100 liters of Coca a year, in Mexico the number amounts to 150 liters. In Chiapas, the figure rises to 821 liters per year. These numbers are those quoted by Page from Michael Blanding, an author of books that has become famous for its totally frontal position to the soft drink.
In the Highlands of Chiapas during the last ten years, the main cause of death has been diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes where Coca-Cola replaces water
Mortality due to diabetes increased by 30% in Chiapas between 2013 and 2016.
The shortage of drinking water has forced residents of the Mexican city of San Cristobal de las Casas, in the state of Chiapas, to quench their thirst by drinking more than two liters of Coca-Cola per day, which has triggered diseases such as diabetes and obesity.
While mortality from diabetes increased by 30% in Chiapas between 2013 and 2016, for many people in this area of Mexico it is easier and practically as cheap to get a sugary soda than a bottle of water.
The Tzotzil indigenous population is among the most affected and, according to the head of the Department of Nutrition of the Hospital of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Luis Alberto Ferrera, five out of ten consume soft drinks daily, which has triggered high rates of obesity and diabetes.
Coca-Cola produces at a local bottling plant, Femsa, and sells the drink throughout the country. An agreement with the Mexican Government allows this plant to extract more than one million liters of water a day.
Margarita Gutiérrez, director of Systemic Change and Political Incidence of the Cántaro Azul Foundation, argues that by not providing the State with safe water, the soft drink company takes advantage of this vacuum, since “people need water or something to drink. “
The expert points out that in addition to the fact that indigenous people do not have other options for water consumption, they also do not have information to decide. “They know that Coca causes them diabetes, obesity, they wear their teeth,” he says.
The soda, says Gutierrez, also came in a very timely context because “people adopted Coca-Cola in a very strong way; they introduced it and adopted it to their culture.”
Mysticism and currency exchange
The drink is so present among the inhabitants of San Cristóbal de las Casas –adorna pharmacies, restaurants and even the entrances of the towns– that it is even used as an offering in religious rites and as an exchange currency.
“Coca-Cola is an offering for daily work and an offering to God, ” says María López, an indigenous healer based in Chiapas, who compares the soda with the ‘pox’, a Mayan drink made with sugarcane.
Rigoberto Alfaro, Professor of Social Sciences at the Autonomous University of Chiapas, comments that “with the arrival of Coca-Cola in glass bottles, the (indigenous) communities saw it as something mystical, not only for its form but also for its flavor “, and notes that the indigenous population has adopted it” as if it were something of the gods, a magical drink “.
Alfaro says that Coca-Cola has made a very interesting commercial strategy: in the city, the cost of a Coca-Cola has a value, but in rural areas, it is cheaper. If a person has no money, he can use the soda as a currency.
“When people have to offer a dowry to a young person, they give it to them in money or its equivalent in a bottle of Coca-Cola,” says the professor.
What does Coca-Cola say?
In a press release published on its website in July, the soda company claims to know the challenges facing the San Cristóbal community and says they have been “working with them for almost a decade to provide community water tanks, water collectors and water conservation projects to help address this problem. “
According to the company, its bottling plant pays a market rate established and regulated by the Mexican Government and based on the use of water in Chiapas. “It doesn’t matter where we operate. We constantly evaluate the sustainability of our water use and making sure our business does not interfere with the needs of local communities.”
Source: xataka.com.mx, actualidad.rt.com