Coca-Cola sucks wells dry in Chiapas, forcing residents to buy water

The water is disappearing in San Felipe Ecatepec, an Indigenous town three miles outside of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, in southern Mexico.
“In the past four years, our wells have started drying up,” says Juan Urbano, who just finished a three-year term this February as the president of the Communal Territory of San Felipe Ecatepec.
In between San Felipe and San Cristobal lies a Coca-Cola bottling plant, operated by the Mexican company FEMSA.
“Many people don’t drink pozol anymore,” Urbano laments.
Despite the government’s responsibility, most Mexicans do not have safe drinking water in their homes.
The impacts of the earthquake on water infrastructure are still being assessed.
Civil society organizations published the Report on Violations of Human Right to Drinking Water and Sanitation in Mexico, this year, which called out Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Danone for profiting off Mexico’s water resources without paying fairly.
During decades working in Chiapas as a doctor, Marcos Arana found that water access issues were at the heart of public health problems in the state’s Indigenous communities.
Coca-Cola previously had billboards in Indigenous communities around San Cristobal, such as San Juan Chamula, showing men and women in traditional dress with Coca-Cola bottles.
“They’re worried about all the criticisms.” In San Felipe Ecatepec, Juan Urbano doubts the current Mexican government will help the community with its water problems.

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