Venezuela: Chávez threatens to boot Coca-Cola
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez threatened to throw Coca-Cola out of the country if the company does not settle a pay dispute with striking workers. In comments broadcast on state TV Feb. 4, Chávez said his government would support the strikers in their "fight against capitalism." He added: "If Coca-Cola doesn't abide by the constitution and laws then we can live without Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola is not indispensable. Who said you need Coca-Cola to live? Sugar cane juice is really good, or guava juice—I just had one."
Coca-Cola Femsa, based in Monterrey, Mexico, fell 1.6% to 95.3 pesos a share in Mexico City trading the day Chávez made his comments. Chávez also said on Feb. 2 that the government may take greater control over the bottled water industry in Venezuela and force companies such as Coca-Cola Femsa and PepsiCo to buy water from the state. (Bloomberg, Feb. 4)
The dispute comes just after Chávez marked the 12th anniversary of his coming to power. In a speech marking the ocassion, he asked Venezuelans to forgive any "mistakes" and to press ahead with his agenda of socialist revolution. He said he was confident of winning another six-year term in the next elections in 2012. He said the electoral campaign had "already begun", and was going to be "a tough one and a good one." (BBC News, Feb. 2)