San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Big Cola Alleges Soft-Drink Feud

A seemingly minor paperwork error by Big Cola resulted in the suspension of the soft-drink company’s environmental permits this week. The fact that such an error came to light at all has the company, as well as some other observers, hinting that Big Cola’s competitors may have attempted to sabotage the Peru-based company’s Costa Rica operations.

According to the daily La Nación, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) rescinded the environmental viability permit for Big Cola’s bottling company here, Ajecén del Sur, because the company’s apoderado general, or representative with limited power of attorney, had been named as the responsible party for the application, when it should have been their apoderado generalísimo, with full power of attorney.

The company’s lawyer, Bernal Jiménez, told the daily that Big Cola is still operating, since the resolution has not yet been finalized. Big Cola has filed an appeal and is awaiting the outcome.

Jiménez said MINAE’s decision could be the result of questions raised by the company’s competitors. El Financiero was unable to obtain comment from representatives of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in Costa Rica.

Environment Minister Carlos Manuel Rodríguez told The Tico Times that no one would be interested in reviewing procedural details of this nature unless he or she had some interest in hurting Big Cola. He emphasized the company has not committed any environmental violations.

This isn’t the first time Big Cola and its competitors have clashed.When the Peruvian company began operations in Mexico, it faced similar challenges from Coca-Cola there, according to El Financiero.

Also, Big Cola itself went on the offensive in 2004, when it filed a complaint before Costa Rica’s Competition Promotion Commission, accusing Coca-Cola of monopolistic practices. The commission ruled against Coca-Cola and ordered the company to stop forcing small pulperías to place only Coca-Cola products in refrigerators donated by the company (TT, April 8, 2005).


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