Fiji’s Politically Charged Waters

Anna Lenzer, on assignment in Fiji for Mother Jones was detained by police, threatened with imprisonment and repeatedly asked to verify her identity despite having a mound of evidence on hand that clearly showed she’s an investigative journalist (are they that rare today, as to be totally unrecognizable?).
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Her piece for the magazine on Fiji and Fiji Water, in particular, is not flattering. For example:

Nowhere in Fiji Water’s glossy marketing materials will you find reference to the typhoid outbreaks that plague Fijians because of the island’s faulty water supplies; the corporate entities that Fiji Water has–despite the owners’ talk of financial transparency–set up in tax havens like the Cayman Islands and Luxembourg; or the fact that its signature bottle is made from Chinese plastic in a diesel-fueled plant and hauled thousands of miles to its ecoconscious consumers. And, of course, you won’t find mention of the military junta for which Fiji Water is a major source of global recognition and legitimacy.

In an interesting twist, Boing Boing picked this story up and Fiji Water’s President John Cochran used the site’s comments to tell his side.

As President of FIJI Water, I encourage readers to read our response to the article, which we have posted on our blog: http://blog.fijigreen.com/2009/08/fiji-water-responds-to-mother-jones-article/ I also encourage readers to post any questions they might have on our blog, where all reasonable queries will be responded to by employee representatives.
We strongly disagree with the author’s premise that because we are in business in Fiji that somehow legitimizes a military dictatorship. We bought FIJI Water in November 2004, when Fiji was governed by a democratically elected government. FIJI Water does not nor will ever actively support the government of the day. The government does not speak for us and we cannot and will not speak for the government. What we can do is try to help the socio-economic development of Fiji as much as we can by running a world-class company that provides much-needed jobs, health care, education, and clean drinking water to the people who live in the villages surrounding our company and the greater community of Fiji.

The truth probably resides somewhere in the middle, although it’s hard to take a company seriosuly that says things like “every drop is green.”
If you’re a Fiji Water customer, there’s an easy answer to all this. It’s called a Brita.
[From the AdPulp Vault] “Bottled Water Is Waste Water”, posted July 3, 2007.

About David Burn

Fired up to write it down. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Chief storyteller at Bonehook, a guide service and bait shop for brands.