Monday, December 10, 2012

What Investments Does Colombia Want?

Come inside for your aguardiente, tequila and whisky!
Colombia should be careful about what it wishes for in free trade and foreign investment.

I took these snapshots the other day of one of the Mexican Oxxo chain stores which are invading Bogotá.

Junk food, anyone?
This one is located directly - and strategically - right across Ave. Septima from La Javeriana University, where the store advertises several kinds of alcoholic beverages and junk food in its window. Undoubtedly, many more kinds are waiting inside.

Needless to say, in Colombia excessive drinking (and unhealthy diets) among students is a big concern. I had even understood that a law restricted alcohol sales near universities, so I'm not sure why this store is allowed to so brazenly offer intoxicating beverages to students.

Colombia is opening itself to foreign investment like few other countries - for better or worse. Perhaps rather than opening a floodgate it should try to apply a sieve and actually select the investments which really benefit Colombia's economy, its people and its culture.

Then they can ask whether chain stores pushing junk food and alcohol and displacing locally-owned businesses bring many benefits.

This situation also invites reflection on the issue of drug legalization. Alcohol is legal, but few people (besides alcohol makers and vendors) would argue that offering it to stressed university students is a very good idea. And, if drugs like cocaine and marijuana were legalized here, it wouldn't be a good thing for them to be advertised across the street from a university, either.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Efrain Cardenas said...

I have not really thought about the ramifications of having such a chain of stores in the country (which begs the question, are they only in Bogotá or throughout the nation?) However, what I see in the picture is an offer of *aguardiente antioqueño* and a mexican beer. One of which is a colombian product. What interests me, if you may, is more concrete examples of the foreign investment you speak of.

Miguel said...


Thanks for your comment. If you look closely, you'll see that there's also whisky offered in the window.

I think that lots of foreign investment (and imports) can be questioned - take mining and other raw materials exports, for example. Those damage the environment, but do little to build a healthy, sustainable economy, since they employ few workers. Colombia needs to develop manufacturing in order to build up a middle class.


El gran Biber said...

With all these Oxxys, Exito-Express, Carrefour-Express, etc. all chain owned shops, I wonder how long it will take for the last 'tienda' to go out of business and how many families will have lost their means of income to multinational corporations.

Miguel said...

A LOT of small family businesses will disappear. And, in the case of the Oxxos, will leave us with cheap junk food and alcohol.