The American cartoonist Mike Peters said to Associated Press that he loves Colombia, drinks its coffee daily and did not intend any offense. On 2nd of January one of his comics appeared in some newspapers talking about Colombian coffee. A character says: “Y’know, there’s a big crime syndicate in Colombia. So when they say there’s a little bit of Juan Valdez in every can, maybe they’re not kidding.” The joke plays off a former marketing slogan used by the coffee federation.
Peters said to AP: “I had no more thought to insult Colombia and Juan Valdez than I did Pringles, Betty Crocker, Col. Sanders, Dr. Pepper and Bartles & Jaymes,” he said in a statement. “The cartoon is meant to be read along with the rest of the week as a series of which the theme is based on the fact that the inventor of the Pringles can had his ashes buried in one.
He added also: “I thought this was a humorous subject and all of my Mother Goose & Grimm cartoons are meant to make people laugh. I truly intended no insult.”
The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, Fedecafe, asked its American lawyers to fill a millionaire issue against Peters and the newspapers that published the comics. They considered that the comic damage and harm the intellectual property and it is a defamation because associated the honest work of 560 thousand coffee producers in Colombia with organized crime.
The issue has come also during the celebration of one of the most important coffee festivities in Colombia, the Fair of Manizales, made during the first weeks of January with the election of the international Queen of Coffee.