Photo: Dr. Esperanza Cerón, director of Educar Consumidores, a group that campaigned for a tax on sugary drinks. Colombia’s consumer protection agency barred her from talking about the link between sugar and obesity. Credit: Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

She took on Colombia’s soda industry. Then she was silenced.

Andrew Jacobs and Matt Richtel New York Times November 13, 2017

BOGOTÁ, Colombia — It began with menacing phone calls, strange malfunctions of the office computers, and men in parked cars photographing the entrance to the small consumer advocacy group’s offices.

Then at dusk one day last December, Dr. Esperanza Cerón, the head of the organization, said she noticed two strange men on motorcycles trailing her Chevy sedan as she headed home from work. She tried to lose them in Bogotá’s rush-hour traffic, but they edged up to her car and pounded on the windows.

“If you don’t keep your mouth shut,” one man shouted, she recalled in a recent interview, “you know what the consequences will be.”

The episode, which Dr. Cerón reported to federal investigators, was reminiscent of the intimidation often used against those who challenged the drug cartels that once dominated Colombia. But the narcotics trade was not the target of Dr. Cerón and her colleagues. Their work had upset a different multibillion-dollar industry: the makers of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages.  Read full story.

Also see  Understanding harmful economic systems., especially the section on obtaining income.  This article indicates that some in the Colombian soda industry were willing to use threats in order to protect their income from reduction through a possible soda tax.

 Photo: Dr. Esperanza Cerón, director of Educar Consumidores, a group that campaigned for a tax on sugary drinks. Colombia’s consumer protection agency barred her from talking about the link between sugar and obesity. Credit: Juan Arredondo for The New York Times 

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