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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Mexican Boycott Targets U.S. Firms

Now the Mexicans back home are joining the fray. With cries of "Nothing Gringo" there is a call for boycotts of American products and businesses in Mexico in support of the boycott scheduled for May 1 in the US. The illegal immigrant movement has already pushed their luck with the most recent protests. The negative reaction is visible enough that some supporters are urging moderation. Highly visible demonstrations are too tempting to resist so the stage is set for a huge disappointment for the demonstrators.

Mexican unions, political and community groups, newspaper columnists and even some Mexican government offices have joined the call for a parallel boycott of U.S. businesses in Mexico. For some it's a way to express anti-U.S. sentiment, while others see it as part of a cross-border, Mexican-power lobby.

Advocates occasionally missed their mark in identifying boycott targets. For example, they incorrectly identified Sears stores in Mexico as American-owned even though Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim bought Sears Mexico operation in 1997.

And in an ironic twist, the protest targets the U.S. business community -- one of the strongest supporters of legalization or guest-worker programs.

"Boycotting would only hurt corporations that are backing what people want done in the immigration bill," said Larry Rubin, chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico.


What is even more distressing to organizers is the effort of the American left to co-op the illegal immigration movement. The left has been embarrassed by the lack of enthusiasm for the anti war protests. They see the illegal immigrant parade and have run over each other to get out in front.

Across the country, some groups have expressed enthusiasm for a May 1 action that they hope would paralyze restaurants, hotels, meat-packing plants and construction sites. But others have questioned the strategic value of such a move so soon after the wave of demonstrations, particularly as it would require many illegal immigrants to risk their jobs by skipping yet another workday.

Skeptics have another pressing concern -- that a prominent antiwar group may be playing a leading role in the boycott, linking its cause with the immigrant rights campaign to promote its own agenda.


When Congress comes back they may have a fresh outlook from visiting their constituents, you know, citizens.

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