Guest Post by Isabella Mori

This is a guest post by Isabella Mori, one of the many Vancouver bloggers. She blogs at change therapy about psychology, creativity, spirituality and social issues such as peace and social justice.

So here I am, shaking in my boots, or rather sweaty keds. (To compensate for my lack of boots, I am wearing a red cowboy hat.) Shaking in my boots because I just offered Lorraine a guest post. What was I thinking? She is one of Vancouver’s Top 5 Witty People. How can I compare? I will try, of course, because I want to have a brain like her, and because something in my incalcitrant mind tells me that comparing is a good idea, never mind all the therapisty knowledge I’m supposed to have. Of course I will fail and perhaps lose place #39,871 in Vancouver’s Almost Witty People.

But onwards and sideways.

Here’s something that has baffled and troubled me last week:

Coca-Cola shares the Diversity of Aboriginal Culture with Canada & the World

VANCOUVER, July 20 /CNW/ – As a part of our company’s ongoing series of Olympic-related programming, Coca-Cola is pleased to launch the Aboriginal Art Bottle program.
The Coca-Cola Aboriginal Art Bottle Program will provide an opportunity for Aboriginal people across Canada to experience the Olympic Spirit and showcase the diversity of Aboriginal art and culture to the world by displaying Aboriginal art on the contour bottle – the Coca-Cola’s unique global iconic asset.

I’m probably hopelessly 60-s hippie old-fashioned but – Coca Cola and “Shares”? Coca-Cola and Aboriginals? On the bottle?

How cute that will be. Throw-away aboriginal art wrapped around teeth-rotting fizz. It all reminds me of Disney’s Pocahontas. Of course I dutifully laughed and cried when I saw it – Disney has an amazing way of getting around people’s intelligence, straight to their tear ducts, I’m clearly envious of that – but come ON! That’s not the way to tell the stories of Native Americans! “What’s next?” I remember thinking, “Will they do ‘The Happy Holocaust’”?

So I gotta say that so far I am extremely suspicious of this plan. The Noble Savage on the Bottle. Bottles and First Nations people don’t have such a great history. And talking of history, it looks like Coca Cola wasn’t always so supportive of Aboriginals. To wit, here’s a story from two years ago, from Counterpunch, a bit abbreviated.

Thrust like a huge furry green thumb into the big Chiapas sky above San Cristobal de las Casas, the jewel-box capital of the Mayan highlands (“Los Altos”), Huitepec mountain, “el cerro de agua” (“hill of water”), contrasts sharply with the logged-out, bald-pated hills that line the Valley of Jovel.

As the source of water for San Cristobal and the neighboring municipality of Zinacantan plus dozens of Zapatista rebel communities nestled in the valleys of Los Altos, Huitepec is both revered by the highland Maya as a sacred site, and besieged by national and transnational capital seeking to suck the Hill of Water dry.

Riding the ridge between San Cristobal and Zinacantan, Huitepec’s water wealth is drained off to feed expanding urban needs in the big city below … the great predator here is the Coca Cola plant operated by Mexican bottler Femsa that sprawls at the foot of Huitepec Mountain like a temple to consumer greed.

“Coca Cola is a hydration company – without water we have no business,” an in-house document ” Our Use of Water” unearthed by the NGO War on Want, bluntly states. Chiapas, the source of 65% of southern Mexico’s water, figures prominently in Coca’s plans. To underscore its mission, Coca-Femsa has obtained a 20 year concession from the city of San Cristobal, which claims jurisdiction over Huitepec water, to siphon off five liters a second of the precious fluid for the next generation, for the manufacture of its noxious brew and the commercialization of bottled water whose plastic husks have become the most littered item on Planet Earth.

San Cristobal’s claim to ownership of Huitepec water is contested by the Tzotzil Maya in neighboring villages. Indeed, under the provisions of the International Labor Organization’s Resolution 169 (OIT 169 by its Spanish initials), the legal benchmark for what defines Indian territory (habitat) and territoriality (what goes on in that territory), Huitepec is the collective property of the people who live on this land.

Enough to reach for the bottle.

Image by Jeremy Burgin

3 thoughts on “Guest Post by Isabella Mori

  1. If Raincoaster’s one of the top five there can’t be all that much competition. Her wit is dulled by the cheap spirits she guzzles (She will doubtless blame me for said cheap booze, but ask her what brand of gin we were perpetually out of when she was here, despite the presence of more than one full bottle on her arrival).

    Re. the aboriginal art. It has always seemed to me that natives are generally more vulnerable to the tooth rot, diabetes, and other negative effects of soft drink consumption. It seems a bit like slugs, if you’ll forgive the parallel, decorating a salt shaker.

    Oh–and I always wondered why that dammned Disney flick depicted Pochahontas (and indeed almost all the female Indians) as over-18 hotties, when from what little we know of her, Pocahontas was about fourteen when John Smith (then about 28) first picked her up and dumped her.

    The movie did break new ground, though, being the first Disney flick to sterotypically portray both natives AND palefaces.

  2. I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

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