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Archive for Monday, December 2, 2002

McDonald’s leaves Bolivia

December 2, 2002

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— 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 at midnight Saturday, after 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 finally become accustomed to the fast-food culture so radically different from their traditional cuisine.

"It was very hard to get used to McDonald's, it's like another planet," said Miriam 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 McDonald's 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.

Others lamented that Bolivia, the poorest South American nation, could not have 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 :quot; a Big Mac combo with supersized french fries.

McDonald's will be survived by Burger King in Bolivia; the company has said it now plans to expand its presence.

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