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Coca-Cola’s Dirty Little War in Brazil

 Coca-Cola's Dirty Little  
  War in Brazil

Says Laerte Codonho,
president of Dolly Soda, a Coke competitor
in Brazil: "All I can say is that Coca-Cola itself said that there is no

competition in Mexico because they assassinated the competitors,
killed them, eliminated them physically. And these are the
same people who control Coca-Cola in São Paulo."
by: Anamárcia
Vainsencher

Since August of last year, Brazilian manufacturer Dolly Soda has made various
accusations against the Coca-Cola Company. The president of Dolly Soda, Laerte
Codonho, told a reporter of Brasil de Fato how Coke has hired a lobby
group to control various sectors of the Brazilian government to act in its
favor, and revealed detailed documents of Coke’s plans to eliminate Dolly
from the market.

The accusations began
when Rede TV! aired a video tape of Coke’s ex-director of strategic acquisitions,
Luiz Eduardo Capistrano do Amaral, divulging how he planned to eliminate Dolly
Soda at the orders of Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Events in the Brazilian
Congress have strengthened Codonho’s accusations. During Congress’ ordinary
session, December 3, 2003, the request presented by house member Celso Russomano
to ask for a public audience with Coca-Cola and the Defense of the Consumer,
Environment and Minorities of the Federal House was taken off the voting agenda
in the absence of Russomano.

House Deputy Givaldo Carimbão,
president of the Commission, confirmed the version sent out by Russomano’s
press secretary, who said that house member Arnaldo Faria de Sá exerted
great pressure to get the proposal off the voting agenda. This sort of political
maneuvering happens often, but in this case there is something peculiar: Arnaldo
Faria de Sá, the leader of the PTB party in the House, is not part
of the Commission of the Defense of the Consumer. Further, he was present
in the session of the same Commission on November 27th. At that session, Russomano
presented the video tapes of Capistrano.

Faria de Sá’s special
interest in the case remains unexplained. His presence at a commission meeting
of which he is not a member raises suspicions that he is acting in favor of
Coke’s lobbying efforts in the Congress. The coordinator of the Coke lobby
is Alexandre Paes dos Santos, who has already had recognized contact with
Faria de Sá.

In 2001, Faria de Sá
furnished Paes dos Santos with credentials which gained him free access to
plenary sessions of the House. In spite of this, there is still no actual
proof that Faria de Sá and Paes dos Santos are working together in
Coke’s benefit.

Faria de Sá responded
to inquiries saying that he no longer has connections to the Coke lobby. Regarding
his participation in the December 3rd ordinary session of the Commission of
the Defense of Consumers, he simply replied, "no comment."

In a collective interview
on February 11, the press secretary of Dolly Soda supplied a document dated
September 1, 2003, which proves that a contract was made between IPA (Paes
dos Santos’ business) and Coca-Cola, via Recofarma, one of the factories of
Brazil Coca-Cola.

Another document dated
November 19, 2003, shows proof of a contract with Ideas, Facts and Texts,
a business owned by Luis Costa Pinto, a cousin of Paes dos Santos’ current
girlfriend. According to the document, Pinto’s mission is to monitor activities
of the Commission of the Defense of the Consumer in relation to any attempts
to schedule a public hearing with Coca-Cola. He also is to monitor the media,
especially any related news from reporters who cover the activities of the
Secretary of Economic Rights.

According to the documents
presented by Dolly Soda, the principal objective of Coke in contracting the
lobby group is to avoid any investigations into the accusations made by Laerte
Codonho. If there is to be any investigation, Coke wants it to be made through
the Secretary of Economic Rights, where Coke has more lobbying power.

Documents show that Daniel
de Carvalho Mendonça, the manager of government issues of Coca-Cola
International, asked for a reimbursement of a dinner he had with a technical
advisor of the Secretary of Economic Rights on November 19th and a December
12th lunch he had with Alexandre Paes dos Santos.

However, investigations
could begin soon as house deputy Givaldo Carimbão, together with Celso
Russomano, will this month propose another request for a public hearing with
those involved in the accusations.

Below are excerpts of
Brasil de Fato’s interview with the president of Dolly Soda, Laerte
Codonho:

Brasil de Fato:
How in practice did Coke’s scheme to take Dolly out of the market work?

Laerte Codonho: The
strategy, according to the director of Coca-Cola himself, involved suppliers,
the Public Ministry, the Federal Income Tax Service, sabotage and spying.

BF: How did these
strategies function with suppliers?

LC: Through pressure
exerted on the suppliers to try to paralyze distribution of Dolly products.
This happened in October of 2000, so that Dolly would enter into the summer
months without orders.

BF: And how did
Coke know who was selling for Dolly?

LC: By knowing
the market well, but also from data Capistrano had obtained from the Federal
Income Tax Service.

BF: How did the
scheme work with the Public Ministry?

LC: According to
Capistrano, they would sue the Public Ministry only to create problems, a
strategy he called "perturbation." Enter a lawsuit here, another
one there. You perturb the Congress so that it can’t do its job, which was
also the case with Dolly, not letting it work.

BF: With this strategy,
you think that Coca-Cola was trying to control the Brazilian State?

LC: Not only trying….they
certainly thought they in fact had control. With these revelations now, the
director of Coca-Cola himself says that they do not want the accusations investigated
in the House of Representatives, but in the Secretary of Economic Rights (SDE).
We demonstrated that Coke’s manager of governmental issues had dinner with
a technical advisor of the SDE, and this advisor, in this case, operates as
a judge. So, you imagine the accused having dinner with the person who is
going to judge this shameful case. It is shameful, wouldn’t you say?

BF: In an interview
with Pasquim21, you said that last year you made your accusations public
at 6:30 p.m., and that at 11:00 p.m. Nelson Schincariol was killed. [Schincariol
is another Brazilian manufacturer of beverages]. Is there a connection here?

LC: No. I can’t
confirm this. I can only say that Coca-Cola itself, through Capistrano, said
that there is no competition in Mexico because they assassinated the competitors,
killed them, eliminated them physically. And these are the same people who
control Coca-Cola in São Paulo.

Note: Brasil
de Fato contacted Coca-Cola, but due to problems with deadlines, was unable
to give their version of the facts.


This article appeared originally in Portuguese in the newspaper Brasil
de Fato –http://www.brasildefato.com.br.
You can contact the author writing to redacao@brasildefato.com.br

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