The good, the bad, the ugly and Coca Cola Zero

June 10, 2009

Reporting on the Devil’s Excrement gets tiring and Chavez and his buddies make it even more tiring.

Take for example Globovision. Can I be surprised at the harrasment? Certainly not. The raid on Zuluaga’s home because of the stuffed animals was something out of the Marx Brothers or Peter Sellers movie. I mean, a country with over thirteen thousand homicides, 20% of which are committed by the cops themselves, but the Government finds the resources to have 100 heavily armed cops, intelligence police and soldiers to raid the home. We have yet to see any of these “environmental Prosecutors” around Maracaibo Lake, looking at the problem there.Now, THAT is a real environmental problem! But no time for it.

Or take the new Electoral Bill. How many times can I have the energy to write about a new manipulation of the Law that can give Chavez’ PSUV an edge? But then, the Bill is ready and we hear they have backtracked on it, because they realize there is a loophole: If the opposition unites, THEY could get the majority in the National Assembly without having a majority of the votes. A charade, just another one.

Even the Vergatario cell phone seemed too silly (imbecile?) to even mention, let alone write a post about it.

But then tonight, the Health Ministry comes out with one of those creative bursts that the Chavez Government is well known for: They prohibit a product that I have seen in dozens of countries “because it contains a susbtance that could be harmful to the population”.

I am not talking about a new pharmaceutical product or an imported Chinese root, I am talking about a product which I believe was launched in most of the world before Venezuela and that as far I have been able to determine, it represents a marketing move by the manufacturer.

I am talking about Coca Cola Zero!!!

Yeap. As of right now that product is banned without telling us what is that mysterious component that may damage our brain, or sex life, or skin.

This is simple harassment of a multinational. Nothing else to it. It’s a revolutionary pose.

Kids get poisoned regularly by products given to them at public schools. Nothing happens.

PDVSA is giving away UHT milk that is about to expire, because they purchased too much. Nothing happens.

All over the country you can buy vitamins, “natural” products  and pharmaceuticals that are not registered  or approved and are certainly smuggled into Venezuela. Nothing happens.

But the Minister gets this idea of screwing with a large multinational, now, that has sex appeal! That sounds revolutionary! That really makes headlines.

That is the true parody our poor country is living today. There is little that is good. A lot that is bad. Many things that are ugly, but the Government is worried about Coca Cola Zero!

Personally, I take offense. While I have not had my first Coke Zero in Venezuela (They had yet to phase out Coca Cola Light), I consider myself an addict of Coca Cola Light. In fact, in my family the running joke is we drink so much Coca Cola because we are missing a piece of DNA that does not allow you to digest food and Coke compensates for it. It even has a name: “Octaviosis”. Well known  genetic disease.

So, robolutionaries:  don’t mess with us! We might get really mad!

32 Responses to “The good, the bad, the ugly and Coca Cola Zero”

  1. maria gonzalez Says:

    I really think that this is another trapo rojo, so people does not talk about what really is important changes in electoral law, crime statistics, PDVSA problems and off course the “gripe porcina” cases…but I can see your point.

    Also even if is true that they are concern about people’s health…maybe they have to start banning Whiskey or any alcoholic drink or cigarretes. NO only do to the potential health problem, but to decrease the accident rate, since in many cases alcohol is a factor…but can you image the boliburgueses with no whiskey!

  2. dillis Says:

    There was a chain email going round a couple of months ago saying that in Latin America, they put some chemical in Coca Cola Zero that is banned in North America and Europe.

  3. Dr Pepper Says:

    Dillis, that is BS… Coke Zero is sweetened with Acesulfame K and Aspartame in Venezuela. Those chemicals are among the most widely tested on earth and have been on market for 35 years.

    I know where the inspiration for this came from: The Red Bull ‘Simply Cola’ drink and recent events in Hong Kong and Germany involving supposed trace amounts of cocaine (a cocaine molecule was found) … reason being that the Red Bull cola secret formula uses depleted coca leafs. Red Bull is hitting back and their sales will probably now increase due to the free publicity which is causing countries around the globe to test Red Bull drinks.

  4. Dr Pepper Says:

    Venezuelans worry more about getting home alive every day while sipping their sodas.

    The regime probably reversed engineered Coke Zero’s secret formula in one of those advanced Barrio Adentro labs run by Cuban doctors.

  5. dillis Says:

    Yes of course it is BS. Was probably sent by Red Bull themselves!
    It is apparently ok though for the borrachos to keep swigging their cerveza and whisky and then driving home. And when is tobacco going to be banned by the robalucion?

  6. paula h Says:

    i was in margarita island 2 weeks ago and the only products they sell there were mostly pepsi products…when i asked the taxi driver, why was there just pepsi, he answered that coca cola was from the “imperio”…i told him that the richest people in the US where PEPSI-CO, owners of different movie theaters, and that PEPSI was also american!! he was kinda surprised….interesting eh?

  7. dillis Says:

    It is always interesting to watch the chavistas putting their coca cola, pepsi, oreos, m&m’s, etc into their shopping carts! the irony of it……

  8. Dr Pepper Says:

    this has all the makings of a shakedown

  9. Roberto Says:

    This is just another distraction. Chavez ought to consider bull fighting as a career, he is very good at keeping our eyes on the red cape.

  10. Roberto Says:

    But I don’t feel too bad for Coke Zero. That stuff tastes nasty!

  11. Kepler Says:

    When I was last time in Venezuela I saw people buy Viagra in normal drugstores as if they were vitamins, no prescription whatsoever. Taking into account how overweight has been spreading in Venezuela so rapidly in the last few years I wonder how many are kicking the bucket while giving their last shot.
    But Coke Zero is forbidden, probably due to some email read by a Revolutionary?

    About the German issue with Red Bull, here the English version of the story:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,626705,00.html

    It is really Deutsche Spissigkeit brought to extremes and used for promoting a product.

    Anyway: although I don’t think the state should intervene, I do think Venezuelans have an issue with these “light products”. Obesity there seems now more widespread than here in Europe and they keep swallowing “light” products as if that would solve the problem (but then they get 10 times more and eat on top of that a lot of butter and other stuff that makes them fat)
    The only thing that makes me happy is that Chavez is leading the way.
    One day he may see Onkel Marx sooner than expected.

  12. Kepler Says:

    Well, Miguel, we made it again, we are in Der Spiegel, now Cola:

    http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/0,1518,629840,00.html

    Just the last sentences: “the decision is part of a wave of company
    nationalizations and increased tests of factories in Venezuela. This year the government had already taken over a rice and pasta factory own by US company Cargil and had threatened with actions against the drugs corporation Pfizer”

  13. Halfempty Says:

    I see the hidden hand of the TLF (TAB Liberation Front) behind this insanity.

  14. concerned Says:

    It doesn’t matter how many “light” products one may drink when you are washing down two butter/oil soaked arepas. They may be good, but you can’t consume these daily while living a life of low physical activity. It usually costs more to eat healthy, and requires a more diverse menu that in recent years is difficult to find on the shelves of venezuela. That is my opinion about the obesity rise and it’s tie to poor economics.

  15. Kepler Says:

    Converned, I am not sure.
    I think there are several other factors:

    – poor knowledge about eating
    – more artificial stuff available
    – the environment: We are all influenced to some extent by the attitudes of people around us
    – it is more and more difficult in Venezuela to do something we could do three decades ago: WALK outside.

    I know well-off people in Venezuela and they are putting a lot of weight the same as the others. Fat is increasing everywhere.

    I was in Venezuela and we went to eat cachapas. I went with some relatives. I love cachapas. My girlfriend, who is European, and I could not eat the whole thing. The piece of cheese we got was just twice the amount I remembered when I was a child. The others had no problem with eating it all. I told them: the portion has increased. They would not believe me.

    I remember the way my mom would cook. She would use a lot of plants to create flavour. I don’t see that anymore. People chock their dishes with mayonnaise or butter or the like.

    I read in South Africa black Africans getting into middle class are putting a lot of weight as well. They are not used to the ratios, they don’t have any physical activity anymore.

    Here in Europe I have not once seen Coke or Pepsi at my friends’ houses. It is very much a social thing: it is much less common to find Coke when you are in a house of middle class people, specially with university education. It is not so in Venezuela or the Americas in general.
    It is easier for me not to drink Coke. I see it in the supermarket but really nobody I know drinks it on a regular basis. Things are changing here as well and people are putting on a lot of weight, but the situation, I think, has not increased so much as there.

    In Venezuela it would be more difficult if I only see Coke or Pepsi around.
    Here I can get out for a walk at midnight if I don’t feel like sleeping. There is no way I can do that in Venezuela.

  16. Dr Pepper Says:

    the problem in Venezuela is fat and carbs. In Argentina, meat is the staple dish yet people are not fat (but that is starting to change last 10 years because of fast food, etc.) because they eat meat with salad – no carbs.

    In Venezuela, the fryer is every day use along with carbs from cornmeal, rice, pasta, etc. and fats from sauces, dairy, sugars, etc.

    Then you have the Venezuelan sweet tooth compounded by lack of education, knowledge and exercise … you are what you eat. Calories in does not equal calories out in Venezuela.


  17. For once I must applaud a chavista measure.

    I am in that very small percentage of people who are intolerant of aspartame and similar sweeteners. They leave me a bitter after taste that lasts for hours. Coke diet for some reason is one of the biggest offenders: a simple accidental sip of it at a party is pretty much enough to ruin the gustatory aspect of said party. I tried the new Coke Zero for kicks and I was sorely tempted to log a complaint at INDEPABIS because the Coke Zero advertisement claimed it tasted the same as normal coke. Well, it does not. not at all, though it is somewhat less offensive than Diet Coke.

    Thus I am basically a room temperature water drinker, using soda or mineral water for kicks, and of course fruit juices with as little sugar added as possible. The only soda I use is REAL COKE for the Cuba Libre. Any other soda is taboo except for an occasional Mellow Yellow when I visit the US. Do not ask….

    That is why I applaud this latest measure of Chavez as stupid as it is: at least I have lowered my odds to accidentally ingest diet coke or equivalent (diet Pepsi is also popualr here and equally repulsive to my taste buds)!

  18. deananash Says:

    Daniel Duquenal has accidentally put his hand on the problem. His tongue-in-cheek jesting about the ridiculous Chavista measures does represent the average persons’ (be they Venezuelan, American or Chinese) thinking. Namely, I don’t care about the consequences towards anyone else, I only care about myself.

    Said another way: “If it’s good for me, it’s good. If it’s bad for me, it’s bad.”

  19. marc in calgary Says:

    Well Daniel that is strange, I thought I was the only one hyper taste intolerant to any sugar replacements in processed foods.
    It all tastes super bad, and it does not go away for hours.
    I wouldn’t be banning it from general sales, but nobody brings that crap into my house.
    low fat? low sugar? ja! take a walk tubby…

    real coke, or real cherry coke, all the others are pretenders to the throne.

    Anyone that walks into a store and sees what passes for quality goods, approved for sale in the republic, can plainly see there is a serious lack of regulation going on in Venezuela, where it needs to be regulated, and at the same time, see that this is all politics, all the time. More of the same from Hugo.

  20. KA Says:

    Daniel I’m the same as you, I dislike diet soda or anything with artificial sweeteners, they also leave a weird aftertaste in my mouth. Personally, I go with the real thing or nothing at all (no diet or light here).

    I can only imagine Chavez tried the Coke Zero didn’t like it so he told his minister to ban it.

    BTW, anyone know if they use Olestra or sell Alli in Venezuela? Those I would say are something to be concerned with.

  21. concerned Says:

    Like the quote: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I may not like the way Coke Zero tastes or what may be in it, but it pisses me off that someone else thinks they have the right to prevent me the opportunity to try it. Unless it contains illegal drugs, tell me what is in it, warn me if you feel it is necessary, and let me decide. Just another example of a dictorial government deciding for others what is best.

  22. LD Says:

    For me, this is like a python, everytime you let some air escapes the python closes the gasp a litle. This makes the people feel indefense, resistance is futile. I think this is the sense of all this nonsense, to show who has the power and undermine the moral of the people. At the end people will be happy if they can choose between caraotas and rice…
    And then think of the possibility, the PSUV (members) reaches 50% of the electors count. Then they will don`t need the votations anymore, because ” we are the majority”.

  23. Larry Nieves Says:

    Oh, please. Mad? Venezuelans will get mad the day Chavez bans beer. Otherwise he will continue sticking it to them, and laughing while at it.

  24. HalfEmpty Says:

    they also leave a weird aftertaste in my mouth.
    Embrace the peculiar!
    Drink 21st Century TAB…. it’s oddly mechanical.

  25. GeronL Says:

    I have never heard of Coca-Cola Light and I am an American

  26. dillis Says:

    GeronL, it is what they call Diet Coke in Venezuela

  27. Otro Roberto Says:

    I lean towards maria gonzalez and LD points of view. It keeps you away of important issues (pan and circus idea, but with almost no bread) and get you used to the feeling that resistance is futile.


  28. [...] binary choice:  with us or against us.  In this way, unofficial voices in countries like Cuba and Venezuela, which might have been happy talking baseball, are driven together in political [...]

  29. Kepler Says:

    I think Larry has said it: only when beer gets banned shall the courageous Venezuelan folk rise in arms against tyranny.

    I understand Daniel’s reaction, but I would not ban it like that.
    Here in Europe we also have that “light” crap, but less people eat
    like that because there are options, there is ready information, there is education and people still remember some traditions. People are also getting fatter here, but not as in Venezuela and not everywhere (Britons are fattier, for instance, than Scandinavians or Dutch or Flemish).
    Germans in particular force companies to present the ingredients in ways that leave little to the imagination, even if you go to McDonald’s.

    I would force the industry to present the right information:

    “this product contains blablabla” (big letters, etc, etc)

    And children should get some good education at school about what they should eat. The only thing I remember in Venezuela was seen the “food pyramid” very briefly. That was decades ago with top teachers. I wonder what the average Venezuelan knows these days. It was mostly rote learning back then, now it is rotten all the way through.

    There are other things that can be done but they are hard to implement in Venezuela, where people are afraid of walking to the corner. Here I can walk at 1am in the city centre, no problem. In Venezuela you spend hours on end in traffic jams and then you have your own garden to do stretch your legs.

  30. Alan Furth Says:

    You know, the sad thing is this episode sums up the Venezuelan tragedy. We’re stuck in a civil war that uses flagrant propaganda emanating mainly from two recalcitrant camps: those who defend the brainless, coca-cola-gulping, corporate-enshrining values of the worse versions of Western consumerism; and those trapped in the uber-populist, neo-Leninist Chavista Matrix.

    ‘tamos chévere!


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