Pepsi in Burma - A Globalization Catastrophe

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Case Details:

Case Code : BECG026
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1990 - 2003
Pub. Date : 2003
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Pepsi
Industry : Food and Beverage
Countries : USA and Canada, Burma

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Boycott Pepsi - Save Burma Contd...

Reports came in from the United Kingdom (UK), Canada and Australia as well regarding anti-Pepsi business decisions by customers and/or governments. These developments attracted the attention of the global corporate world for the first time towards the plight of Burma, which had been suffering at the hands of a cruel military-regime for decades.

The role of multinational companies in aiding Burma's rulers in running their 'regime of terror' and thus contributing to blatant human rights violations, became a matter of international outrage. As one of the most high-profile companies present in this tiny nation, Pepsi was the main target of the hate wave.

Considering that Pepsi had boycotted South Africa in 1985 for following apartheid policies, its stand regarding the Burma issue was strange indeed. Human rights activists were horrified at Pepsi's attitude to the Burma issue. The company seemed to still believe in a statement made back in 1991 by one of its officials involved in the Burma operations, "The market is there. That is one thing we are sure of".3

The Shame that is Burma

Burma, a country in the Asian subcontinent, has been left untouched by development, progress and prosperity. Surrounded by India, China, Bangladesh and Thailand, Burma seems to have become an eyesore that most of the developed (and developing) world has conveniently ignored.

The country has a long history of political and social instability, which has severely hampered its economic growth (Refer Exhibit I for a brief look at Burma's history till 1962). In 1962, the military took over the country, marking the beginning of decades of oppression and human rights abuses. The government confiscated the land of most of the farmers and enslaved a large part of the population. Most of these 'slaves' either worked as human mules (porters) for the army or as construction workers (building roads, bridges and railroads). Since working conditions were very bad, old men, women and children died in large numbers while toiling for the government. Globally, Burma came to be identified with images of men in shackles carrying out construction work (thanks to a few daring journalists)...

Excerpts >>

3] 'Friends of Burma Launch Pepsi Boycott,', 1993.


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