Not With A Bang, But With A Whimper – Mexican Governmental and Social Control Continues To Erode

Coca-Cola Plant Shuts Down Indefinitely After 40 years in Altamira, Guerrero
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from: Universal

March 25, 2018 Chilpancingo, Guerrero

The soft drink bottler Coca-Cola FEMSA (KOF) announced the indefinite closure of its operations in Ciudad Altamirano, in the Tierra Caliente region of Guerrero, due to the fact that it has registered two months of harassment by criminal groups against its bottling plant in the absence of a rule of law in the area.

Early yesterday, ie the early morning hours of Friday March 23, an armed group tried to launch Molotov cocktails and shoot at the company, which has been operating in the area for 40 years. The attack, according to official sources, was staved off by agents of the Estatales or the State Police, and the only thing they criminals managed to hit was a truck in the main access.The spokesman of Grupo Coordinación Guerrero (GCG), Roberto Álvarez Heredia, reported that around 3 AM, about 20 men tried to break into the bottling facility. With a truck they rammed the security gate and at that moment the agents arrived and a confrontation began.

Although in the brawl there were no injuries, the agents detained an aggressor, in addition they confiscated Molotov weapons and bombs. The other attackers fled and abandoned a pick-up truck.

At noon on Friday March 23 Coca-Cola FEMSA announced the closure of the plant in Altamirano:

“With the fundamental objective of preserving the integrity and safety of its employees, Coca-Cola FEMSA decided to close its operations indefinitely, starting immediately on Friday March 23 in Altamirano City, Guerrero.

The measure was taken for the safety of more than 160 employees who work in the distribution center, ” the company said in a statement.

All 160 employees just became unemployed indefinitely.

The corporate added that “the lack of necessary conditions to operate efficiently and safely in this area of ​​the state of Guerrero, as well as the recent unjustified attack on one of our employees, led the company to make this decision.”

Two attacks in a week:

Last Wednesday, Coca-Cola restarted its sale to the public in Ciudad Altamirano, after two months of having suspended the distribution due to the attempted extortion by a criminal group. The sales would be in bulk, without the delivery trucks going out to distribute.

In January, after receiving extortion messages, Coca-Cola suspended its service to prevent an attack against its workers;

In February, when they tried to restart sales, armed men burned a vehicle with the logos of the company.

Three days later, the workers in charge of collecting the orders were sheltered by State Police agents. The protection was only carried out in the municipal capital without entering the communities.

According to testimonies of residents, the products of Coca-Cola in Altamirano are sold at a higher price because of the difficulty of the company to distribute them.

In 2014, one of the concessionaires of the refreshment shop closed its facilities in the municipality of Arcelia -also in Tierra Caliente- for the same reason: the extortion of organized crime groups.

On that occasion, the company dismissed more than 120 workers.

With this closure, Tierra Caliente region is left without Coca-Cola distributor.

The Tierra Caliente is one of the most violent regions of Guerrero. At least four criminal groups are disputing the region: La Familia Michoacana, The Knights Templar, Los Tequileros and Guerreros Unidos, according to official reports.

Its nine municipalities are without Municipal police; the residents are cared only by State agents and soldiers of the 34th Infantry Battalion.