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Jun 30, 2009

Importer denied permit for Naturas juices

Story PictureFor almost six years, Triple A Imports has been the local distributor for Nectares Naturas from neighboring Guatemala. But all that has changed and the company is being denied the permit to import the juice. Duane Moody traveled to Orange Walk Town to find out why.

Duane Moody, Reporting
Triple A Imports is owned by Amir Carrillo of Orange Walk Town. The business has been operating for ten years and is in good standing. But now it seems that a politically connected distributor is favoured for the import license and is threatening the viability of his company.

Amir Carrillo, Owner, Triple A Imports
“About three months ago, we were informed just verbally by Supplies Control that they were instructed not to issue Triple A Imports any more license for Naturas.”

Duane Moody
“Why is this?”

Amir Carrillo
“I really don’t know as to why exactly—that’s why I’m asking and that’s why I have forwarded letters to supply control, Yvonne Hyde, the C.E.O. and asking for them to give me a reason.”

The Ministry of Economic Development has informed Carrillo via email on June twenty-first that no further permits would be issued to him. Carrillo further says that he has since uncovered that a representative of Vega’s Distributor from Benque Viejo del Carmen last year wrote to his suppliers Alimentos Maravilla stating that government had authorized them as the sole importer.

Amir Carrillo
“They are being approached by Edwardo Vega from Benque which is an importer from Benque—Vega’s Distributors—they are the ones that are approaching this company, they are the ones claiming that they are the only ones that will be able to get the license. They are the ones saying that if the company wants the minister from the Economic Development to forward a letter.”

Duane Moody
“How is it that this person is able to make such strong comments since last year May and they did not whether the licenses were going to be discontinued for you?”

Amir Carrillo
“Well I don’t know but that is what I need to know. I am just lost because I only know that I am not getting the license and that they are giving it to someone else.”

Duane Moody
“Vega’s Distributors is it in anyway connected to the Deputy Prime Minister of Belize?”

Amir Carrillo
“Yes I believe it is his brother.”

At stake is the livelihood of twenty full time employees.

Amir Carrillo
“We currently employ about twenty full time employees and five or six depend were solely on this brand. You see Naturas was one of the first brands that we had gotten this distributorship and it turned out to be the flagship of all the products that we have. So it will affect my business a lot and I will be forced to have to let go some people. I just want this to be solved, go back to normal so we can work as normal and with proper business ethics, with level playing field, open competition.”

According to Carrillo, it is pure politics involved since Vega Distributors is owned by the brother of the Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega. Duane Moody, reporting for News Five.

Carrillo also provided a copy of an email in which Carlos Guerra promises a formal letter from the Minister of Economic Development which would confirm that during his term in government, the company would get an exclusive license.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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