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Foreign Policy in Aisle 12?

3 January 2009

The WTF OF THE WEEK courtesy of the award-winning* Inca Kola News:

Wal Mart (you might have heard of them) is currently buying up D&S, the Chilean supermarket chain that is market leader in its home country (via its Líder brand of supermarkets and hypermarkets) . As part of the purchase process, Wal Mart today instructed D & S that it has until January 4th to remove from its shelves all products supplied by Cuba.

Also, products from Venezuela and Iran.

Otto at the award-winning Inca Kola News* is, of course, an investment adviser, and recommends stocking up now on Cuban Rum. But, you have to ask why a Chileans can’t buy products from countries with which Chile has trade agreements, and why Wal-Mart is involved. The answer, of course, is the Helms-Burton Act, which attempted to force foreign nations to uphold the United States embargo on Cuba, by applying sanctions on businesses that did business with the Cubans. Mexico and Argentina (along with the European Union, Britain and Canada) all — very diplomatically — told Messers Helms and Burton to shove it up their ass. I haven’t really thought to look to see if Cuban products are in Mexican WalMarts, but Mexico is the largest foreign investor in the Island’s economy, and Canadians are the #1 source of tourists.  You can buy cohibas or six-packs of that god-awful rum-and-cola in Mexican convenience stores without any trouble.

While I suppose a very convoluted rationale might be made for denying Chileans the right to buy Cuban cigars at low-low prices, or whatever Venezuelan or Iranian goods they might want are mysteries to me. I thought the United States — and WalMart — were all about free trade, but apparently, it means freedom to trade objects made in the Communist People’s Republic of China or the theocratic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as opposed to those made in another Communist country, or in another theocratic state. And, as to Venezuela, which has good relations with Chile, it’s… it’s … a democratic country with a Socialist president.  Just like Chile… and Bolivia… and Paraguay… and Uruguay… and Brazil … and Ecuador.

I don’t expect consistency in any country’s foreign policy, but on the other hand, I haven’t heard of private corporations being used as an arm of foreign policy since the early 1940s.


* Inca Kola News is a finalist for the “Weblogs Best Latino, Caribbean, or South American Blog” listing for 2008.  Way to go, Otto!!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anon permalink
    3 January 2009 9:57 am

    The Iranians sell pistacchios. They’re cheap and tasty and can be easily found in Mexico (except in Wal-Mart?).

  2. MaryOGrady permalink
    3 January 2009 10:33 am

    Wal-Mart is a plague. I’m sorry to hear it is spreading further.

  3. otto permalink
    3 January 2009 2:01 pm

    RG, check WalMex for Habana Club rum, Cuba’s biggest export (and better than the pre-mix crappo)

  4. 3 January 2009 10:10 pm


    Havana Club Anejo Reserva is my elixir of choice and no, it cannot be found in any Wal-Marts in Nuevo Laredo or Monterrey.

    Thank god for that lovely jug store down the street that carries and “emergency” supply for me in the little pint bottles!

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