Prop. 187 Foes Urge Boycott of Nabisco, Disney : Protest: Latino groups are urging consumers to shun the firms because of their donations to Gov. Wilson and others who supported the initiative.
Activists who unsuccessfully fought Proposition 187 at the ballot box unveiled formal boycott plans Thursday against two U.S. corporate icons--the purveyors of Mickey Mouse and Oreos--in an effort to capitalize on the economic clout of Latino consumers and others opposed to the immigration initiative.
Boycott organizers, who are hoping to win support throughout the United States and Latin America, are targeting Walt Disney Co. and RJR Nabisco because of major donations by corporate officers to the reelection campaign of Gov. Pete Wilson and other pro-187 Republican candidates.
“We want to sensitize companies like Disneyland that make earnings from immigrants,” said Fabian Nunez of La Alianza in Pomona, speaking to reporters outside the main entrance to the Anaheim tourist mecca. “These corporations need to be sensitive to the people that make them wealthy.”
Carol Makovich, a spokeswoman for RJR Nabisco in New York, said the conglomerate did not take a position on Proposition 187. Boycott representatives have not contacted RJR Nabisco, said Makovich, who declined further comment. Disneyland spokesman John McClintock said the company also remained neutral on Proposition 187 and that its gubernatorial campaign contributions, which also included donations to Democratic challenger Kathleen Brown, “were based entirely on business and tourism concerns as you would expect with the Disney Co.”
Proposition 187 won by an almost 3-2 margin at the polls, where exit interviews showed Latinos made up only 8% of the voters although they account for 27% of the state’s population. Latino activists Thursday termed boycotts an alternative method to demonstrate their growing clout.
“We don’t have the electoral power that our numbers would suggest, but it’s important to show the community that we do have economic power--the community does have a voice,” said Evangeline Ordaz, a professor of Chicano studies at Cal State Northridge. She was among those announcing the RJR Nabisco boycott at a separate news conference outside a Latino supermarket in the largely immigrant Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles.
Sponsoring the action against the tobacco and food conglomerate is the California Latino Civil Rights Network, an activist group that helped organize a large anti-Proposition 187 march in Los Angeles last spring.
The Disney boycott is being led by Coordinadora ’96, a coalition of leaders of smallish grass-roots immigration rights groups including One-Stop Immigration of Los Angeles and La Alianza. The group said its boycott will also concentrate on Chevron--another substantial contributor to Wilson’s campaign--and on national convention business slated for California.
Thursday’s actions are the latest in a series of Latino-led boycotts--some seemingly spontaneous, others, like Thursday’s moves, planned in advance--against donors to Wilson, who made his support for Proposition 187 a centerpiece of his reelection effort.
Organizers made it clear that additional companies would be targeted because of their financial support for Wilson and other Republicans. The GOP helped bankroll the pro-187 campaign and Wilson ran a series of tough, pro-187 TV ads.
“We feel the Republican Party is trying to scapegoat the Latino and immigrant community for their own political gain, and that’s immoral,” said Mario Salgado, executive director of the Civil Rights Network. “People are being hurt by it, and these companies need to pay the price.”
Gov. Wilson has termed the boycotts counterproductive. “Boycotts help no one and many of these Latino activists who are calling for boycotts are hurting their fellow Latinos and recent immigrants who work in entry-level service sector and manufacturing jobs,” said Sean Walsh, a spokesman for Gov. Wilson.
A demonstration to kick off the boycott of Disneyland and Disney films and other merchandise is planned outside the main gate of the Magic Kingdom on Saturday morning by boycott leaders, who helped organize the massive October protest against Proposition 187 in Downtown Los Angeles. The boycott will continue at least until 1996, they said.
“What we’re looking for from Disneyland is sensitivity to our community,” said Nunez, an American flag unfurled behind him, “and a commitment from this corporation that they are committed to advancing the interests of this immigrant community.”
Nunez said he believes a boycott can have “a substantial impact” on Disney, even though he has no expectation of bringing the company to its knees. “The image of Disneyland will have to be re-evaluated by many people who come to the theme park,” he said.
For decades, he noted, the portrayal of ethnic groups in Disney cartoons has raised questions, most recently criticism of Arab characters in “Aladdin.”
Coming in the same week that Orange County unexpectedly declared bankruptcy, Nunez conceded, some might take a boycott of the county’s ultimate icon as rubbing salt in a wound.
“I think there may be a backlash, but we’re willing to face the consequences of that,” he said.
Leaders of the boycott against RJR Nabisco--whose expansive line ranges from Camel cigarettes to Oreo, Fig Newton and Chips Ahoy! cookies to A-1 steak sauce and Ortega brand Mexican food products--announced their action in the parking lot of Liborio’s Market, which caters to a largely Latino immigrant clientele.
Spreading the word through community groups, churches and other organizations, boycott strategists plan to reach shoppers throughout the United States and Latin America--where Nabisco sales are also high.
“There are alternatives to all these products,” said Roberto Lovato of the Civil Rights Network as he stood in front of a table arrayed with Nabisco products, including Ritz crackers, Planters peanuts, Certs and Lifesavers candies. “But there are no alternatives to Proposition 187.”
Organizers wore red armbands asking, in Spanish and English, “Who’s next?"--an allusion to what some activists call the scapegoating of immigrants in the post-Proposition 187 era.
Boycott planners are seeking an apology from RJR Nabisco and a pledge that the corporation will not back candidates who use immigration as a “divisive” issue, said Salgado.