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2002-09-07
Cuernavaca, Mexico. Street Protests Against Costco Lead to 32 Arrests

An incredible story of big box resistance from Mexico. Residents in Cuernavaca, Mexico are locked in a bitter, and higly visible battle with Costco that has led to thousands of people filling the streets to stop the store. The following report was filed by local residents: "The old fashioned and traditional Hotel Casino de la selva in Cuernavaca Morelos México is being demolished with all its beautiful murals, centenary trees, swimming pools and fantastic buildings to build a Costco store,in association with the Mexican supermarket chain Comercial Mexicana.This shocked public opinion! Since July 2001 the citizens organized as the Frente Civico en defensa del Casino de la selva, organizing rallies, emailing  Costco CEO's, gathering signatures to support the building of the store in a different location, and talking with Mexican authorities without results. This struggle is not only to save the national patrimony of the Murals of Spanish artist Joseph Renau, and late muralism Mexican artists as Reyes Meza and Benito Messeguer, among others. Or to rebuild the jewel of 20th Century architecture of Felix Candela demolished in that site. Or to save 600 hundred enormous trees that are now being cut down. The loss of these trees means habitat destruction for 4 species of endangered birds and would be one more blow to the environment of Cuernavaca, which is suffering from uncontrollable sprawl. This is also about protecting the jobs of a local traditional market established a few meters from there.Costco's impact would be felt by local vendors who will be clearly undercut by the new store,threatening thousands of local jobs. Protesters say that Cuernavaca already has 10 mega-stores, and that's enough for them. It is also about protecting a lifestyle of a small and quiet village and preventing our city from becoming a satelite suburb of Mexico City. It is also about being respected as citizens that have the right to decide how we want to live. A protest against the construction of a Costco mega-store in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México was violently repressed by police on August 21st. 450 state and local police attacked a peaceful protest and arrested 32 people, including one American, Charlie Goff. Bail has been set at US$10,000 for Mr. Goff, director of a prominent Cuernavaca Spanish-language school, US$5,000 for Flora Guerrero, Mr. Goff's wife, and US$3,000 for most of the other protesters. About 3,000 people participated in the protest. More protests were planned to demand the release of the detainees and oppose the building of the store.The protest was called one day after the city issued Costco a building permit. Protesters allege that Costco began clearing the site weeks ago. They say that Costco clearing crews have already damaged the "Jungle Casino", a disheveled park that contains historic murals and architecture and is one of Cuernavaca's cultural landmarks. 20 thousand people came out on the streets on August 27th to demand freedom for the activists (who were released last Monday) and to stop government repression and violence towards the citizens.This group of citizens is now organizing a local and national Boycott against Costco and Comercial Mexicana and promoting a plebiscite to resolve this conflict with democratic tools. The citizens demand that this place should be saved as a local park that will create local sustainable employment that won't destroy the environment and will increase quality of life in Cuernavaca. Costco says its mission is to continually provide its members with quality goods and services at the lowest possible prices.In order to achieve this mission, they will conduct business with the following Code of Ethics: A. Obey The Law. B. Take Care of Our Customers. C. Take Care of Our Employees. D. Respect Our Suppliers. E. Reward Our Shareholders."


What you can do: One has to wonder if listening to the desires of local residents is part of the Costco Code of Ethics. If you want to support these protests, please visit http://www.procasino.org/>www.procasino.org or email Areli Carreon at areli@laneta.apc.org. Call or fax Costco CEO James D. Senegal, 425.313.8100 (office); 425.313.8103 (fax) Demand the following: a) That Costco make a public call to drop all charges against all protesters.b) That Costco stop construction on the Cuernavaca store immediately.c) That Costco abandon the Cuernavaca store project all together. 2) If you are a Costco CUSTOMER, tell them that you will no longer buy at Costco as long as Costco is building stores with blatant disregard for historic landmarks, the environment, and its impact on local economies. 3) If you are a Costco SHAREHOLDER, call:Bob Nelson Vice President, Financial Planning & Investor Relations. Phone: (425) 313-8255 Fax: (425) 313-6430. Tell him you are outraged at Costco's overseas practices and that you will pull out of Costco's stock if Costco continues to jeopardize its reputation through dirty dealing in Mexico.For more information: http://www.procasino.org/>http://www.procasino.org










 
 
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