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Coca-Cola, Democracy Scores, and Hotel Groups

Latinometrics Weekly
Welcome to Latinometrics. We bring you Latin American insights and trends through concise, thought-provoking data visualizations.
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Today’s charts:
  1. Coca-Cola’s juicy margins in the region
  2. Which countries are the most democratic?
  3. The biggest hotel groups
Don’t forget to check out the comment of the week at the bottom!

Beverage Industry 🥤
Coca-Cola Earns More With Less in Latin America
Coca-Cola Earns More With Less in Latin America
Coca-Cola has been having a tough few years of revenue and profit declines. Its best year was ten years ago; since then, its revenue and EBITDA have been either declining or in slow-growth mode. Whereas it’s hard to point at just one factor, a massive one is a decline in soft drink consumption, especially in rich countries.
The company, however, has always found some comfort in its 100-year old, Latin American operation. Margins have been better than all other regions since at least 1990, and they’ve gotten even better since then — from 37 to 62% in 2021. Also, Latin Americans love coke: Mexico and Brazil are both in the global top 3 of per capita soda consumption.
Americans and Canadians also love Mexican Coke. It’s made with cane sugar instead of the high-fructose corn syrup used in the US since the 1980s. Unlike the US version, its bottle is glass (which is manufactured by Mexico’s FEMSA: Coca-Cola’s biggest bottling partner in the world). Although the US division has imported Mexican Coke for a while, the drink’s market was initially Mexican immigrants. This changed in 2009 when it hit the shelves of mainstream stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and Kroger.
Last year marked 100 years since Coca-Cola’s entered Latin America through Mexico. Coca-Cola can now be found in literally all other countries in the world except for two: our very own Cuba and North Korea.
Democracy 🗽
LatAm: From Full Democracies to Authoritarian Regimes
LatAm: From Full Democracies to Authoritarian Regimes
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) just released its yearly Democracy Index in which it ranks and assigns a democracy score to every country based on five factors:
  1. Electoral process & pluralism
  2. Functioning of government
  3. Political participation
  4. Political culture
  5. Civil liberties
In general, the news wasn’t good — Latin America’s overall score fell for the sixth straight year. According to the EIU, it was “the biggest downgrade recorded by any region since [launching] the Democracy Index.” Only about 1% of the region’s population lives in what it calls a “Full democracy,” thanks to our MVPs, Uruguay and Costa Rica. These two countries both ranked in the world’s top 20. First, let’s focus on the 1% and then continue delivering the bad news.
Not only was Uruguay ranked as the most democratic in the region, but it also saw one of the most significant improvements in score worldwide. The country scored 10/10 in “electoral process and pluralism” and 9.71 in “civil liberties.” Costa Rica had the highest “political participation,” scoring a 7.78.
As to the alarming trends in our region, there were multiple category downgrades:
  • Chile went from “full democracy” to “flawed democracy.”
  • Ecuador, Mexico, and Paraguay lost their status as “flawed democracies” and are now designated as “hybrid regimes.”
  • Haiti was downgraded from a “hybrid regime” to an “authoritarian regime.”
Check out the full report here.
Hospitality Industry 🛎️
The Largest Hotel Group in Latin America is Cuban
The Largest Hotel Group in Latin America is Cuban
Cuban hotel group Grupo Gaviota, founded in 1988, is Latin America’s largest hotel chain with 35,000 rooms. Gaviota belongs to the state-owned monopoly Gaesa, the business management group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), headed by Raúl Castro’s former son-in-law, Luis Alberto López-Callejas.
In second place, we have Posadas, Mexico’s largest hotel chain. The group has been expanding fast. Under various brands, it owns, rents, and manages hotels, resorts, and villas. Before the pandemic, its CEO José Carlos Azcárraga Andrade highlighted that they’ve had new openings practically every month. However, it seems that the pandemic brought some significant challenges for Posadas. So much so that the company got court approval to restructure its debt in December. This allows it “to prioritize the use of its cash for operating activities to preserve jobs and help maintain the high quality for which its hotels are known.”
The list is generally dominated by Cuban, Mexican, and Brazilian companies. Although the big multinational chains — like Marriott with 63K rooms across LatAm — would crush this list, these ten chains have a lot to be proud of for providing guests a combined 146K rooms to sleep in.
That’s all for this week 👋
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Comment of the week
Comment of the week
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