Coca-Cola shuts the stable door on land-grabbing

The horses have been gone for years, the stable owner and his family are long dead, and the stable itself is barely standing… but Coca-Cola has finally taken the first steps toward a gossamer thread of responsibility for its decades of land-grabbing throughout the developing world. More details can be found via The Guardian here, and a full list of commitments can be found via Oxfam here.

Perhaps Coca-Cola’s executive staff was feeling humbled after being surpassed by Apple as the world’s biggest company a month ago. It might be the increasingly problematic association with globally communal iconography like the Olympic rings. Or maybe they feel guilty for the dangerous and grotesque derangement of nutritional logic that is their “A Calorie is a Calorie” campaign. (See here, here, here, or do a google search for more evidence and information).

coca-cola-funky-logo1

Whatever the impetus, surely Coke’s new strategy of oversight, even if only ostensible, is a great and wondrous thing. Countless millions will be protected from past vulnerabilities. But lets hold onto our commendations for the nonce. that isn’t the sand in the human rights craw. What should bother the conscientious and intellectually honest about Coke’s about-face, is the rigorous pretense of conviction and philanthropy of its new investigative face — which serves to mask what should be a clear and blatant history of malfeasance by the soft drink giant.

A history of displacement from traditional lands, sweeping tens of millions over the decades, at an extremely conservative approximation, into derelict refugee camps and desperate poverty. A history of environmental destruction. A history of strong-arming the disadvantaged from accessing our most valuable and guaranteed resource: water, and through its denial, a history of mass-murder.

Coke is treating its blood-stained past as a bygone indiscretion, yet its land-grabbing is still as unimpeded as ever.This is an issue of justice. Coke doesn’t deserve to sweep its history, so much blacker than the diabetes-inducing contents of its bottles, under the rug just because they say they’ll stop doing bad things. And we shouldn’t let them.

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