Activists Call for May 1st 'Gringo' Boycott in Mexico

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Monday, May 1, is the unofficial "Don't Buy Anything Gringo" day in Mexico. Mexicans are being encouraged to show solidarity with planned protests and job walkouts north of the border by boycotting all U.S. products and services. Alex Chadwick speaks with Mexico City-based activist Primitivo Rodriguez about what effect the boycott might have.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host: And I'm Alex Chadwick.

You know that immigrant rights advocates are planning a big nationwide protest for Monday, the First of May. It's called A Day Without an Immigrant. Latinos especially are being asked to stay away from work and school and stores. And now people in Mexico may be joining in. Mexicans there are being asked to boycott all products from the U.S. on Monday. No Coca Cola. No Wal-Mart. No Starbucks.

Joining us is Primitivo Rodriguez. He's an activist in Mexico City.

Primitivo, what do you hope to achieve by this boycott? And how wide do you think it's actually going to be in Mexico?

Mr. PRIMITIVO RODRIGUEZ (Mexican Activist): I think that the main objective of Mexican action is to send a clear message to immigrants, Latino, Mexican and others, that they are not alone.

CHADWICK: You know there are concerns by some political activists in this country that immigrants who are trying to influence legislation in Congress in this country shouldn't be too Mexican because that will turn off the political base of support. They should be more, we want to be U.S. and we're not going to carry Mexican flags and all that. Are you at all concerned about a kind of backlash? Political backlash?

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: I think the concern exists. We already know, we know very well, that Mexico has no role on something that is of a sovereign decision in the United States. It is the U.S. Congress, not the Mexican Congress. It is the U.S. people, including immigrants, who are going to decide what to do. We know that. So the message is not to Washington. It's simply saying we are with immigrants. And it is for them and the rest of the U.S. people to decide what to do regarding what Washington is thinking.

CHADWICK: It's an expression of solidarity. President Vicente Fox has said he actually doesn't think this is a good idea, though.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: Well, at the beginning, he said it was. He may have changed his mind. That is positive, because I believe the government has no business in this boycott.

CHADWICK: Who is coordinating things there?

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: Mostly unions, but also churches. What they said is you may cross the border, but don't do it to buy products. Do it to visit your families, who also is important. The border region is the key element to see if the boycott is going to be effective or not.

CHADWICK: The border regions.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: Because also -- it's from Tijuana to Matamoras, from San Diego to Brownsville. It's that region. What should be clear is boycott is not an action against U.S. business. Boycott is for Mexico an action of support to what immigrants are doing in the States.

CHADWICK: Primitivo Rodriguez is an activist in Mexico City, where Mexicans are planning on joining a boycott of U.S. products on Monday.

Primitivo, thank you.

Mr. RODRIGUEZ: Thanks to you.

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