Mexico: “This Generation Could Possibly Bury So Many Sons and Daughters”

June 4, 2017

SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, MEXICO — I began writing this story about the diabetes epidemic in my home state of Chiapas about a year ago.

Why did it take me so long? Because this topic is complex, and there are many interconnected causes. I tried writing about all of these causes at once, but realized that if I did it this way I wouldn’t be able to make the story clear.

It took a while to decide what, specifically, to write about. During my reporting, I read a lot, interviewed many specialists, watched audiovisual media. But one of the most worrying things was knowing that this generation could possibly bury so many sons and daughters because of a health emergency.

Mexico’s rapid increase in obesity and diabetes is surprising, but it’s even more surprising that rural Chiapas is a prime spot for this problem. Here, a change in diet is one of the main causes of this disease. People once grew their own food and worked hard for it. Now, processed foods and soda are plentiful.

While I worked on this story, an epidemiological emergency warning was issued due to the diabetes epidemic.

There is still a lot to write on this issue, including the role that Coca-Cola plays in distributing soda in Chiapas, the state’s deficient health infrastructure, a lack of access to clean water, poor investment in rural areas and free-trade agreements and their impact on food imports.

From where I stand, these are all causes of this problem. And I’m committed to continuing to inform people on this issue.

A Coca-Cola machine sits at a snack stand in the San Juan Chamula municipality in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state. Public health officials say the availability of soda has contributed to the diabetes increase in Chiapas in recent years. Marissa Revilla, GPJ Mexico


Pablo Medina Uribe, GPJ, translated this blog from Spanish.