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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