PARIS, Dec. 30 — The idea, says Tawfik Mathlouthi, who runs a radio station for France's Muslim minority, came to him in the shower: to create a competing product to Coke that would satisfy the needs of Arab speakers in Europe and elsewhere for soft drinks, while providing jobs and economic growth. "My son adores McDonald's and Coke," Mr. Mathlouthi, 46, the father of two young boys, acknowledged in an interview. His 10-year-old was chagrined when his father urged him not to patronize American brands. ... In November, after months of preparation, Mr. Mathlouthi came out with Mecca-Cola. Borne aloft by Muslims in France desirous of boycotting American brands, to protest policies in the Middle East, the company he created delivered more than a million bottles by early December.
IRAPUATO, Mexico, Dec. 15 — A decade of hemispheric economic upheaval finally turned Eugenio Guerrero's life upside down last Saturday. That morning, he tried to auction off the pig farm that has supported his family and some 50 others for two generations. "It's true," read a flier that announced the sale. "We are closing and auctioning everything." From now on Mr. Guerrero, 41, will dedicate himself to selling paint. The changes he has been forced to confront are being felt all over Mexico as the country struggles to keep its balance, one foot in poverty, the other seeking a toehold in prosperity through the North American Free Trade Agreement.
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