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L.A. Times: PepsiCo to Sever All T

Subject: L.A. Times:  PepsiCo to Sever All Ties With Myanmar

 Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, January 28, 1997

    PepsiCo to Sever All Ties With Myanmar

      Boycott: Company says the move is a reaction to tougher U.S. policy and pressure from shareholders and customers.

>From Washington Post

     NEW YORK--PepsiCo Inc. has decided to pull all of its brands and business out of Myanmar, giving a major boost to a student and civic movement against U.S. economic involvement with the southeast Asian country's military government.
      In a statement sent Friday to the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers religious community, which tried to bring shareholder pressure on PepsiCo to withdraw from Myanmar (formerly called Burma), PepsiCo's senior vice president and general counsel, Edward V. Lahey Jr., said: "Based on our assessment of the spirit of current U.S. government foreign policy, we are completing our total disengagement from the Burmese market."
      Lahey said PepsiCo severed all ties with its Burmese bottler on Jan. 15, and expects that all production and distribution of company products there will cease by May 31. Pepsi executives, who once argued that free trade would help loosen the military grip, said they acted in recognition of toughened U.S. policy toward Myanmar and in deference to the wishes of many shareholders and customers.
      Zar Ni, a Wisconsin graduate student who helped lead a 100-campus boycott against Pepsi, celebrated the decision with an exuberant e-mail message to other organizers: "We finally tied the Pepsi Animal down! We did it! We all did it!!!"
     The organizers have modeled their campaign after the effort to impose trade sanctions on the South African government before it agreed to accept black-majority rule. They are trying to persuade other U.S. companies, particularly oil giants such as Unocal Corp. , Atlantic Richfield Co. and Texaco Inc.  to abandon Myanmar. The campaign has been endorsed by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner whose party was barred from power by the Myanmar military in 1990 after winning more than 82% of legislative seats.
       A woman answering the telephone at the embassy of Myanmar, the name given Burma by the military government, said no one there wished to comment on the PepsiCo action.
       Campus organizers have considered PepsiCo particularly vulnerable to a college boycott because of the company's efforts to sell soft drinks to young consumers. It spent millions of dollars during Sunday's Super Bowl game advertising its "Generation Next" theme.
      Groups such as Zar Ni's Free Burma Coalition  persuaded Harvard University  dining hall officials to discard a plan to replace Coca-Cola with Pepsi on campus and inspired a 2,000-signature petition that killed plans for a PepsiCo-subsidiary Taco Bell restaurant at Stanford University. 
      A dozen cities and counties--including Santa Monica, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda County--and Massachusetts have enacted laws prohibiting municipal or state purchases of products from firms that do business with Myanmar.

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