May 2006 issue of Socialist Action newspaper
Workers throughout Latin America watched the build-up to May Day closely, nowhere more so than in Mexico. Unions raised slogans at May Day rallies in Mexico City in solidarity with immigrant workers in the United States. A call also went out to boycott all U.S. products and U.S.-owned stores on May Day.
Waving signs saying, “Don’t Buy Gringo Products, Long live the Boycott,” 3000 electrical workers blocked a major highway. The boycott meant not only staying away from McDonald’s, Burger King, and Starbucks, but also boycotting Mexico’s largest employer, with 140,000 workers—Wal-Mart. In second place with 70,000 workers is auto parts maker Delphi Corp., which on May Day itself told a judge to void its UAW contracts in the U.S.
Thousands gathered outside the U.S. Embassy, including Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos. Said one demonstrator, Fernando Vazquez Herrera, a former bracero: “We gave our blood to build capitalism in North America.”
The intimate tie between NAFTA-imposed poverty and emigration is clear to Mexicans, and the link was shown on May Day. Unions raised their own demands against President Vicente Fox, who has eagerly implemented Washington-dictated “economic reforms.” The protests took on added heat because of the government’s attempt to impose a hand-picked leadership over the national union of mine and metal workers.
Fueling the boycott was also long-standing resentment at racist, sometimes murderous, treatment of Mexicans by U.S. customs officials and border officers.