Friday, October 06, 2006

All posts were moved (11/2006) to http://mexfiles.wordpress.com

Looking for the Biggest Burp.....

We've all heard about the "Big Bang" theory.... but have you heard about the "Big Burp"? Leave it to Chiapas to become the center of yet another war..... the war between Coke Cola and Pepsi. A recent article in: http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2840/ by Beverly Bell tells us all about the 'perfect storm' taking place in the state of Chiapas right now. Politics, religion and commerce have taken up their positions and without the aid of "menthos", the gases are exploding. "Thousands of candles flicker in the dim chamber. The air is thick with the smoke from copal incense. On the altar, men in black wool tunics and white knee-length pants play solemn music on drums and gourds. Below them, a score of Tzotzil Indians chant in small circles on the pine needle-covered floor. In the center of each circle are candles, eggs, copal and pox—fermented corn mash—in an old glass container, stopped with a corn cob. And next to the pox is a half-liter bottle of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. In the 484-year-old Church of St. John the Baptist, in Chamula, a town of 60,000 in Chiapas, Mexico, those bottles indicate the intersection of religion, politics, water and consumer markets. In the United States, Coke and Pepsi vie for monopoly contracts with schools and universities. In Chiapas, the stakes in the soft drink war are as high as the purity of one’s soul. Traveling through the cold highlands of the San Juan Chamula municipality any Saturday afternoon, one regularly encounters a scene resembling a battleground: dozens of bodies sprawled on the ground, arms and legs sometimes extending perilously into the road. At the epicenter of each of these scenes are plastic tables and chairs in front of a diminutive wooden store. There, men, women and children who are either on their way to collapse, or who have resuscitated themselves and are back for more, sit drinking pox, which means “mad dog” in Tzotzil. Along with pox, they swig Coke or Pepsi, depending on whose store they patronize; each store sells only one brand. Like fireworks and copal, pox is a sacrament in a local religion that blends Catholicism with elements of native tradition. It is a sacred drink that cleanses the soul; the more pox one drinks, the greater the purification. 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. The caciques and their affiliated drink companies do a booming business—nevermind that the beverages sell for 50 U.S. cents a can, exactly the average daily income. Purchasing a soda often means not purchasing food, and Chiapas has one of the highest rates of both malnutrition and Coke consumption in Mexico. " For the rest of this interesting story, click on the link (above) and find out how Coke Cola/Pepsi play into the politics and economy of Chiapas. It's an excellent eye-opening article about the inner workings of commerce and power in Mexico!!!

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