As part of the Venezuelan government's new anti-tax evasion offensive known as "Plan Zero Evasion", Coca-Cola Femsa, the largest bottler of Coca-Cola in Latin America, was forced to shut down its plants, distribution centres and branch offices for 48 hours, according to an article posted at Venezuela Analysis on February 16. This follows a three-day shutdown of McDonald's in early February — in both cases, the companies were penalised for tax evasion.
Coca-Cola Femsa, which is owned by one of Venezuela's richest families, was penalised by Venezuela's tax agency, National Integrated Service of Tribute and Customs Adminstration (SENIAT), for failing to maintain their financial records in order. SENIAT also fined the company approximately US$380.
There are not many governments prepared to take on some of the world's most prominent multinationals, but Venezuela's government, led by President Hugo Chavez, is campaigning to hand back control of the country to its people, even if that means pissing off some of the most powerful forces in the world.
Venezuela is a wealthy country, with developed industry and significant oil reserves. However, 80% of the population live in poverty, while a small elite profit from their willingness to collude with US corporations ripping the wealth out of the country.
The tax evasion penalties are just one part of the plan to transfer some of the wealth back. Operating less than a year, "Plan Zero Evasion" has enabled the government has increased its tax revenue by 50% in the last year.
From Green Left Weekly, February 23, 2005.
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