Thursday, February 15, 2007

Be My Valentine!

Be My Valentine else I'll rip out your heart!

Seriously, isn't it ironic that the day most ingrained in our culture as being rooted in love, caring and friendship hides some of the most ruthless corporate neocolonial business practices on earth.

While it is customary to give flowers, chocolate or diamonds on this day, how come gifts that bring so much happiness, cause so much suffering.

Flowers- more precisely Roses, 60% of the roses sold in the US come from Dole-owned labor camps in Columbia and Ecquador. In fact a full 30% of Ecquadors entire rose production is bred to harvest for Valentines day. Big Deal? Well these workers are subjected to abuse, low wages and exposure to widespread use of chemicals and pesticides. Dole's largest production center is at the center of another struggle as peasant workers try to organize a union and are being brutally beaten down by Dole.

The US enjoys $13 Billion in Chocolate each year. More than 40% of the Cocoa comes from South Africa where more than 100,000 children are forced into working the cocoa farms. They too are beaten, abused and mutilated to the amusement of their owners.They are poisoned by pesticides and forced to work in unsafe conditions. ADM, the Cargil Corp and Nestles created these communities decades ago when they helped made the farm plantations. These corporations are woven into the economies and welfare of the region. But to avoid legal "headaches" they choose to take a hands-off approach supporting the peoples and infrastructure grating a meger $5M over the past five years while reaping a whopping $65 Billion in sweet profits.

If you're really in love, maybe you'll get a sparkling diamond for your valentine. While its said to signify undying love, there might be more dying than you are willing to hear. Blood diamonds have fueled the most brutal civil wars in sierra leone the past two decades. but through global campaigning and grassroot efforts, awareness has forced the giants in the business like DeBeers to be more concerned about their diamonds origin.

So take a moment from this day to think of a way that you can send a valentine to those who struggle and die for the gifts we give. Rather than ripping their hearts to give to another, why not find a way to spead the awareness and bring these corporate monsters a conscience. Happy Valentines Day!

Buy these chocolates they are conflict-free:
Equal Exchange Chocolate
Divine Chocolate

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