Activists Target Wal-Mart In Mexico While Company Accommodates Local Culture
Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, May 9, 2007
A Wal-Mart store is the focus as The Wall Street Journal’s John Lyons files a report from a Zapotec village in southern Mexico. The story is that this particular store was opposed by many in the town but has gained acceptance in the year it has been open. Showing how Wal-Mart adapts to cultures around the world, the video shows the employees giving the Wal-Mart cheer in their native Zapotec tongue. The report points out that activist groups are fighting Wal-Mart’s expansion in Mexico as well as in the U.S.
What should be shocking, but has become par for the course, is to listen to the activists such as the one interviewed in this report who comes from a San Francisco group called Global Exchange. Theoretically looking to help “the people” as a practical matter, they quickly ally themselves with the vested economic interests in a town to try and stop Wal-Mart.
If successful, the effort of the campaign to stop Wal-Mart is to make sure poor people don’t have any options other than to buy from an unsanitary outdoor market and a limited range of other vendors. Whatever you think of opening a Wal-Mart in San Francisco, in much of the world a new Wal-Mart isn’t only less expensive, it offers a town or village products in a variety and quality never before made available to these people.
These types of campaigns are saying to the poor people of the earth that they have some sort of obligation to “preserve” a native culture for the benefit of the west, as a kind of permanent tourist spot.
Of course, today’s advanced economies borrowed liberally from other cultures when they encountered innovations that could advance their economies. Mass retailing, and its unique ability to bring high quality goods to the people of the world at an affordable cost, is just the kind of innovation many people around the world would like to adopt.
And, of course, when Wal-Mart opens a store in Mexico, the people still have to vote with their pesos as to whether they see a superior value proposition.
Yet activists who enjoy the panoply of retailers and restaurants in San Francisco seem to want to deny people in developing countries the right to make these decisions for themselves and their families.
That is not right.
You can see the video right here.