In the past, I’ve criticized Fiji Water on environmental grounds.
I don’t mean to imply that the company that sells Fiji Water, the FIJI Water Company LLC, supports military dictatorship as a single direct choice. In fact, the company claims that its business does not support the dictatorship. I’m not on the ground in Fiji, so I cannot speak to the particular day-to-day operations and government dealings of the company. However, the fact is that Fiji Water is exported as a commodity of the islands of Fiji, and as such provides economic support to government imposed by the leaders of the military coup that took control of the islands in 2006.
Yesterday, the military dictator of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, asserted that the nation will not hold elections to elect new leaders until at least 2014. That will be eight years without democracy, even if Bainimarama keeps his promise. In a stunning piece of rhetoric, Bainimarama says that it’s important to have no democracy in Fiji so that there can be governmental reforms.
The FIJI Water Company’s arguments, claiming that buying Fiji Water does not lend support to the military dictatorship of Fiji, are illogical nonsense. The company writes, “We strongly disagree with the author’s premise that because we are in business in Fiji somehow that legitimizes a military dictatorship. We bought FIJI Water in November 2004, when Fiji was governed by a democratically elected government. We cannot and will not speak for the government, but we will not back down from our commitment to the people, development, and communities of Fiji.”
In statements like this one, the FIJI Water Company acknowledges the accusations without logically addressing them. It merely offers an assertion that their business does not legitimize the military junta of Fiji, without giving any reason to believe that assertion.
It’s a fact that with every sale of a bottle of Fiji Water, money flows into Fiji, and that some of that money makes its way into the accounts of the military dictatorship. I understand that the FIJI Water Company isn’t about to stop selling water from Fiji. However, there is no reason for the American people to keep on drinking Fiji Water. There is no reason for American businesses to keep on selling Fiji Water.
A boycott of Fiji Water has long made sense environmentally, and now it makes sense for people who respect the cause of liberty as well.