VIO News Blog

June 11, 2009

Coke Zero Withdrawn from Venezuelan Stores

Filed under: Daily News Roundup — VenWorld @ 1:35 pm

The Venezuelan Health Ministry announced yesterday that the new soft drink product “Coke Zero” would be withdrawn from national circulation while health authorities investigated its ingredients for potentially unsafe substances. The decision has generated a flurry of articles and television news reports that suggest that the measure is linked to a recent wave of nationalizations or sparked by “anti-U.S. motivations.” No mainstream news outlet, however, has sought to address the real health risks that may be posed by the new product despite the fact that consumer advocacy groups and medical experts have signaled that at least two of Coke Zero’s ingredients – aspartame and acesulfame potassium – are potentially carcinogenic.

President Chavez held a meeting with Jean Ping, President of the African Union, yesterday afternoon, to discuss preparations for the Summit of African and South American leaders that will take place in Caracas at the end of September. The two leaders talked about building “South-South” cooperation between both continents and discussed the implications of the global economic crisis. After the meeting, Ping told the press that he considered that President Chavez has “become a spokesperson for the nations that do not have a voice … especially in Africa.”

The Washington Post once again focuses its attention on the Venezuelan government’s alleged mistreatment of the opposition news channel Globovision in an article published today. The article cites the police search of the home of the channel’s CEO, Guillermo Zuloaga, without explaining that the measure didn’t involve Globovision and was in fact part of an investigation of suspected illicit activities related to Zuloaga’s car dealerships. Interestingly, a spokesperson for the Committee to to Protect Journalists is at first quoted in the article excoriating President Chavez for “a direct attack against freedom of expression” but later recognizes the clear “role the private media played in the [April, 2002]coup” and laments that “there are no judicial sentences against them.”

In response to the many articles in the international media on the Venezuelan government’s alleged attacks on free speech, the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) has posted a piece that suggests that the Chavez administration “has legitimate reasons for holding politically motivated news channels accountable.” The piece also considers that the foreign news media has promoted “local distortions seeking to demonize the Chavez government” rather than carefully examining the legal basis for the measures taken against Globovision.

Finally, the national soccer teams of Venezuela and Uruguay ended a World Cup qualifying match in a 2-2 draw in Puerto Ordaz last night. While Uruguay can no longer qualify as a participant in the 2010 FIFA Cup in South Africa, Venezuela is still in the running.

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