The New York Times articles on Wal-Mart pay-offs and corruption make me want to SCREAM and PULL MY HAIR OUT!
First of all, whether or not Wal-Mart pays people illegally to build its big ugly boxes is actually not the worst thing it does. As in the US, the worst thing it does is build stores in places where it can devour small businesses. And they are pretty smart at doing it. Both the Wal-Marts in Xalapa (yes there are two) are in ugly commercial areas that you can easily walk to or get to by bus since car traffic is not so accessible to the majority of poorer people who might shop at Wal-Mart. Lots of not so poor people shop at Wal-Mart, too. And they shop at Sam's Club -- USAers like being able to buy their favorite USA brands. And Wal-Mart has a grip on rich shoppers as well. It bought out a chain called Superama where you can get all kinds of expensive goodies including organic foods which small merchants not far away are also trying to sell.
Even worse than building in Xalapa, which after all is a big city with a lot of chains (though Wal-Mart takes the cake) is the fact that it is building a store in Xico. Right on one of the two main streets in town. It won't be called Wal-Mart, but it's a Wal-Mart. About six months ago, people realized it was on the books and signs started appearing all over protesting, of course to no avail. It is going up in a fairly tight space so its narrow end will be the front door. The parking lot is already completely covered in concrete from one side to the other. The back has a bunch of loading docks. It looks about ready to open.
We know reasonably well some local shop owners. Needless to say, they are very, very worried. Two own dress shops. I mentioned to a Gringo acquaintance that the monster was likely to eat them alive. The Gringo said,"I don't see why. Mexicans don't buy the artisan items. They are too expensive." I said, well they buy regular clothes! That hadn't occurred to her. Xico, being a tourist town (now a Pueblo Magico) has a main street with shops selling what you'd expect. But all you have to do is walk a block in either direction and you come upon fruit and vegetable stores, butchers, grocers, shoe stores, bakeries, hardware stores, flower shops, cheese shops, a local market, and so forth. Sometimes the stores sell jumbles of all these things. A lot of the produce, meat and dairy is local so that not just shop owners but producers are likely to suffer.
I suspect that the mayor of Xico (El Presidente) got a good deal for allowing the Wal-Mart. The mayor is in deep trouble with his constituents because he had some grandiose plans which now sit partly completed because he doesn't have the funds to finish them. The one I know about is his plan to build a four lane boulevard into Xico for which a beautiful long arcade of trees sheltering the road (a perfectly good, newly paved road) was cut down.
A friend of ours says he's destroying all the reasons Xico became a Pueblo Magico to begin with.
So these are reasons I hate Wal-Mart. Please don't shop in Wal-Mart. There are plenty of other places you can indulge your craving for stuff: my favorite is Costco. I feel guilty going there, too, but at least its employees are apparently paid well by Mexican standards. Which is a whole other issue.