Mexican immigrant groups call to boycott U.S. firms

"The Great American Boycott" is spreading south of the border, as activists call for Mexicans to boycott U.S. businesses on May 1.

The protest is timed to coincide with a May 1 boycott of work and shopping in the United States that also has been dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants." The boycott, which grew out of huge pro-migrant marches across the United States, is designed to pressure Congress to legalize millions of undocumented people.

Mexican unions, political and community groups, newspaper columnists and even some Mexican government offices have joined the call in recent days.

"Remember, nothing gringo on May 1," advises one of the many e-mails being circulated among Internet users in Mexico.

"On May 1, people shouldn't buy anything from the interminable list of American businesses in Mexico," reads another. "That means no Dunkin' Donuts, no McDonald's, Burger King, Starbucks, Sears, Krispy Kreme or Wal-Mart."

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.

In some cases, advocates incorrectly identified firms as American,  Sears stores in Mexico, for example, have been owned by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim since 1997.

And ironically, the protest targets the U.S. business community, which is one of the strongest supporters of legalization or guest-worker programs.

"At the end of the day, boycotting would only hurt corporations that are backing what people want done in the immigration bill," said Larry Rubin, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico. Rubin is encouraging people to write to their legislators instead of boycotting.

Roberto Vigil of the California-based immigrants rights group Hermandad Mexicana said his group has asked some of Mexico's largest labor unions to back the protest. Elias Bermudez, president of the Phoenix-based Immigrants Without Borders, is actively promoting the boycott in interviews with Mexican radio and television stations, reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team