McDonald's leaves Bolivia for good
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) -- Thousands of Bolivians crammed into McDonald's
Saturday to order their final Big Macs before the fast-food restaurant
closed up shop for good.
McDonald's served its last hamburgers in Bolivia Saturday at midnight,
announcing a global restructuring plan in which it would close its doors in seven
countries with poor profit margins.
Most Bolivians said they were sad to see McDonald's go, after they had
become accustomed to the fast-food culture so radically different from their
traditional Bolivian cuisine.
"It was very hard to get used to McDonald's, it's like another planet,"
Torres, a kindergarten teacher who saved up for one week to take her two sons to
celebrate one final birthday with Ronald McDonald.
Torres, like many other Bolivians, said she felt somewhat betrayed that
would give up on Bolivia after being here for such a short period of time. McDonald's
brought fast-food culture to Bolivia seven years ago.
"McDonald's threw us out like a third world country in search of greener
said Angelica Carrasco, a primary schoolteacher who stood next to a smiling
Ronald McDonald, waving a red-gloved hand to the crowd. "I don't think McDonald's
was ever that serious about us anyway."
Others lamented that Bolivia, the poorest South American nation, could
provided a healthier economy to keep the American company from leaving.
"I guess Bolivia will never be a fully globalized and capitalized country
like the United
States," said Alberto Bermudes, a 26-year-old computer engineer who ordered his
favorite dish for the last time -- a Big Mac combo with supersized french fries.
He carefully arranged the dishes of ketchup on his tray and savored every
as he reminisced about his youth in America.
"I grew up with McDonald's, I celebrated my birthdays in McDonald's, I
to work at McDonald's," he said. "I feel deceived, and most of all sad."
McDonald's will be survived by Burger King in Bolivia which has said that
plans to expand its presence in Bolivia.
But not all were sad to see McDonald's go.
Bolivia is a country with nearly 60 percent indigenous population. McDonald's
catered mostly to the other 40 percent who had the economic means to enter the
Although McDonald's prides itself as an economical and friendly place,
Bolivia's indigenous population had never tried a hamburger for lack of money or
lack of welcome.
"I've wanted to try the food but I never have," said Esther Choque, an
woman dressed in colorful robes waiting for a bus outside a McDonald's restaurant.
"The closest I ever came was one day when a rain shower fell and I climbed
steps to keep dry by the door. Then they came out and shooed my away. Said I was
dirtying the place.
"Why would I care if McDonald's leaves if they do such bad things?"
Copyright 2002 The Associated Press.