Why (and When) McDonalds Left Bolivia

Well as it happens, the first article on Altmax Media will be a clarification/debunk of a news article doing the rounds of the blogosphere and alternative news sites lately, ie: the news that McDonalds “is closing all stores in Bolivia and is being rejected by Bolivians”.

These articles, while generally accurate in that they reflect a real event, don’t clarify that this occurred in 2002 and is not something that is just happening now.   McDonalds was present in Bolivia for about 5 years (1997-2002).

The claim that McDonalds was rejected on health grounds is a huge over simplification of the situation. Most Bolivian cities are rife with fast food:  Burger King and Subway, as well as other local fast food franchises proliferate, just like in most urban areas of the world.

Operating losses, and the inability to sell McDonalds food at prices that the average Bolivian can afford, are also a large factor.  Taking a quote by Esther Choque, an indigenous local woman, from “Latin American Studies”:  “I’ve wanted to try the food but I never have”.  She continues,  “The closest I ever came was one day when a rain shower fell and I climbed the steps to keep dry by the door. Then they came out and shooed me away. Said I was dirtying the place. Why would I care if McDonald’s leaves if they do such bad things?”  This kind of attitude has been reported elsewhere, and seems to indicate a failure by McDonalds to engage with the greater population of Bolivia in either economic or social terms.

I recommend reading the references below for a more balanced understanding of the reasons that McDonalds left Bolivia (and a more accurate time frame) than the majority of articles doing the rounds of the blogosphere currently.

References:
http://www.bolivianexpress.org/blog/posts/why-didn-t-the-mcchicken-cross-the-road

http://ain-bolivia.org/2012/01/mcdonald%E2%80%99s-left-bolivia-in-2002-fast-food-still-abundant-on-city-streets/

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/bolivia/bolivia-mcdonalds.htm

http://www.ilo.org/indigenous/Activitiesbyregion/LatinAmerica/Bolivia/lang–en/index.htm

http://wafflesatnoon.com/2013/05/13/mcdonalds-banned-in-bolivia/


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