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Iconic Pepsi sign ordered removed in Venezuela

Iconic Pepsi sign ordered removed in Venezuela

A giant globe-shaped Pepsi sign that has been a fixture of the Caracas skyline for years has been ordered removed by city officials allied with President Hugo Chavez.
Pepsi's distributor in the country, Pepsi-Cola Venezuela, said in a statement Wednesday that it has all the necessary permits for the red, white and blue sign, which is one of the most recognizable in the city. Pepsi has traditionally been the top-selling soft drink in Venezuela.
But the office of district Mayor Jorge Rodriguez said it hasn't had proper permits since 2003 and fined the local Pepsi distributor about $1.6 million in local currency, according to the state-run Bolivarian News Agency.
The office has also cited a list of objections to the sign including insurance, maintenance and even a claim that it poses a safety risks in the event of an earthquake.
Company lawyer Carla Hernandez denied that. He said the sign complies with all design requirements in the building code and the company has its permits, insurance and taxes in order.
The Pepsi globe stands atop a 26-story building belonging to the distributor's corporate parent, Empresas Polar, the country's largest food producer that has recently come under strong criticism from Chavez.
Chavez has accused Polar of hoarding food and flouting price controls, and has warned that the government could "go after" the corporation. The government has already nationalized companies in industries ranging from cement to telecommunications.
Polar has denied wrongdoing, saying it is producing a wide variety of food items at maximum capacity and hasn't been hoarding goods in storage as Chavez alleges.
The sign has been in place since 1999 and has remained even as other signs in Plaza Venezuela have been gradually taken over by government agencies. One billboard atop a nearby building advertises government social programs and reads "The extraordinary is done on a daily basis."
Pepsi-Cola Venezuela has asked a Caracas court to overturn the mayor's order.