Fri, Jan 09, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Colombian coffee growers to sue cartoonist


Colombian coffee growers are brewing up a lawsuit over a US comic strip joking that violence is so rampant there, maybe “there’s a little bit of Juan Valdez in every can” of the country’s java.

The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation says it has consulted with US lawyers and will sue Mother Goose & Grimm cartoonist Mike Peters “for damage and harm, detriment to intellectual property and defamation.”

The suit will be filed today and “would not seek any less than US$20 million,” a note on the federation’s Web site said. It will also demand a retraction from any newspaper that published the Jan. 2 cartoon.

In the offending comic strip, 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 federation.

Peters said on Wednesday he loves Colombia, drinks its coffee daily and did not intend any offense.

“I had no more thought to insult Colombia and Juan Valdez than I did Pringles, Betty Crocker, Colonel Sanders, Dr Pepper and Bartles Jaymes,” the cartoonist 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. 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 statement said.

Mother Goose & Grimm is published by more than 800 papers in the US and around the world, its Web site says. Peters is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Dayton Daily News in Ohio.

The federation, which represents more than 560,000 coffee producers, said that by linking organized crime and coffee, the cartoon “attacks the national dignity and the reputation of coffee from Colombia.”

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