March 23, 2005

More Opposition in Mexico?

Without citing any evidence, Reuters tells us that opposition to Wal-Mart is increasing in Mexico.

The fight against the discounter is inspired by successful challenges on Main Street, USA. In Mexico, though, resistance is spiced with national pride and no small dose of bitterness left from foreign conquest centuries ago.

"They fool us like the Spaniards did," said Patzcuaro printer Marco Antonio Garces. "They don't come on horseback, but they dazzle us with automatic doors and air conditioning. They'll trade Chinese junk for what little we have."

To Guadalupe Loaeza, a newspaper commentator and self-confessed Wal-Mart shopper, such talk sounds misplaced in a country where citizens toss garbage into the street and pay little mind to preservation.

The rhetoric really reflects Mexico's love-hate relationship with its powerful northern neighbor, Loaeza said.

"More and more, we import lifestyles resembling the American way of life," she said. "We feel seduced, and at the same time threatened."

In the past decade, Wal-Mart de Mexico, or Walmex , has become the nation's No. 1 retailer and largest private employer. It now has almost 700 stores and restaurants, using aggressive expansion and low prices to take business from established supermarkets.

"It's the convenience," said Leticia Aguirre, who welcomes Wal-Mart. The Patzcuaro mother of two chalks up opposition to sheer self-interest on the part of local merchants. "They're afraid the competition will be strong," she said.

As Wal-Mart enters tougher markets, the organization of its opposition is increasing, and the voice of those opposing is louder, but perhaps sentiment across the Mexican population has not changed at all. But isn't widespread sentiment what is generally thought of as opposition to Wal-Mart?

Posted by Kevin on March, 23 2005 at 11:55 AM