Mexico City, MX. Wal-Mart de Mexico Target Of Rising Protests
Wal-Mart is becoming a high-visibility target south of the border, where the giant retailer has dominated Mexican retailing, to the detriment of thousands of smaller merchants. According to a report by Ruben Garciam and Andrea Buffa of Global Exchange campaigns, Wal-Mart upset progressives in Mexico when the corporation got involved in the country's presidential politics. According to Global Exchange, Wal-Mart's top shareholder illegally made campaign contributions to the right-wing candidate Felipe
Calderon of the PAN. In the past month, thousands of activists in Mexico City, Puebla, Guadalajara, Queretaro, and Xalapa have staged protests inside Wal-Mart super centers. Local activists fought a long battle to prevent Wal-Mart from building a store in Teotihuacan, the archeological pyramid site in Mexico. Activists beat Wal-Mart in the towns of Patzcuaro and Atizapan de Zaragoza, a suburb of Mexico City. But Wal-Mart reportedly controls more than half of all grocery sales in Mexico, and operates 828 stores in Mexico. Progressives have criticized the company for its low wages, and the low prices it pays to its suppliers (for both agricultural and manufactured products), and the contempt Wal-Mart has shown to local communities where it builds. "But even worse," write Garciam and Buffa, "Mexicans have realized that just as it does in the US, Wal-Mart supports the politicians and policies that not only don't bring Mexican working people prosperity, but make the people poorer than they were before." Wal-Mart stockholder Manuel Arango made financial contributions to a smear campaign against left-wing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the PDR. Under Mexican law, corporations are not supposed to fund campaigns supporting or opposing candidates. Obrador has called for a boycott of corporations that illegally supported PAN's campaign, including Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Kimberly Clark, and Televisa. Wal-Mart reportedly gave money to the pro-PAN forces, and distributed campaign literature to Wal-Mart de Mexico employees. "As a result, every weekend in a different cities, the PRD has organized thousands of people to enter Wal-Marts, fill up shopping carts, take them up to the registers as a group, and then begin chanting and raising a ruckus," says Global Exchange. "The goal is to hurt the corporation in its pocketbook, because it has hurt Mexican progressives by supporting neo-liberal economic policies and the politicians who promote them."
What you can do: According to Global Exchange, Wal-Mart represents the worst face of corporate globalization, and the company is expanding throughout the world, especially in developing countries. "Now anti-Wal-Mart organizers in the United States have an ally on the other side of the border. The recent mobilization opens the possibility of a bi-national, if not international, campaign against Wal-Mart." For more information, go to www.globalexchange.org. For related stories, search Newsflash by "Mexico."