Coca-Cola issued an apology on Wednesday for a commercial it ran in Mexico showing white people descending on an indigenous Mexican village to build a surprise Christmas tree.
The Daily Mail reported
that the ad caused an outcry online, and indigenous lawyer Elvira Pablo held a press conference last week that highlighted a number of problems critics identified.
Pablo explained that the introduction of Coca-Cola has decimated the health of indigenous communities, and contributed to a similarly unhealthy attitude of consumerism.
"Fifty years ago, cases of diabetes type 2 in our indigenous communities were rare. Now they begin to be an epidemic. In order to remain united, we must preserve our dignity, our health and our culture. In Oaxaca, we drink tejare, tea, and clean water," she said.
The news outlet TeleSUR also wrote a searing editorial
that was widely shared online, titled, "This New Coca-Cola Ad Shows Mexico's White Savior Problem."
The editorial explained that many people were offended by the message the ad seemed to convey, specifically, "the idea that Coca-Cola is the progress that Indigenous people lack, and therefore must be handed to them by benevolent white folks. Because if the Indigenous would resist this, and the implicit corporate exploitation, then surely they must be against progress, and therefore necessarily backward."
"White saviorism," the editorial states, has throughout history been used as an excuse to "loot Indigenous communities in the name of altruistic Christianity."
The new Coca-Cola ad, the editorial explained, smacked of Spanish colonialism in specific, and white colonialism in general.
After receiving backlash, Coca-Cola removed the ad, and issued an apology.
"Our intention was never to be insensitive to or underestimate any indigenous group," a representative told Eater.com
. "We have now removed the video and apologize to anyone who may have been offended."
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