Following on the heels of a former Wal-Mart executive exposing a widespread bribery campaign inside Mexico orchestrated to "gain market dominance," additional details have been provided in a recently released New York Times investigation.
The former executive had been in charge of obtaining permits for Wal-Mart's subsidiary Wal-Mart de Mexico. He led investigators to a paper trail which showed that the price to skirt zoning regulations to construct their outlets and do business was ultimately $24 million dollars; next to nothing compared to its now $380 billion annual revenue in that country.
Surprising as it may seem to those who are understandably wary of corporate media, the New York Times has taken the lead in an independent investigation, which has resulted in the NYT issuing a definitive accusation of widespread corruption based on the evidence they uncovered, as detailed in the video below.
The evidence of political payoffs, alterations of zoning maps, and unsafe construction practices is too overwhelming to deny. Furthermore, Wal-Mart had already taken steps to shut down their own investigation of their Mexican subsidiary in 2006 and Wal-Mart's then chief executive, H. Lee Scott, Jr. criticized internal investigators for being" overly aggressive." And their bribery campaign apparently is not only contained to Mexico . . . .
The Times needs to be commended for the lengths they went to in their investigation. As they state:
The Times has now picked up where Wal-Mart’s internal investigation was cut off, traveling to dozens of towns and cities in Mexico, gathering tens of thousands of documents related to Wal-Mart de Mexico permits, and interviewing scores of government officials and Wal-Mart employees, including 15 hours of interviews with the former lawyer, Sergio Cicero Zapata.
Wal-Mart's despicable behavior is being protested in every country where their business model of cheap slave goods and corruption has been instrumental in crushing local economies. These practices are becoming so brazen that even corporate media can't deny the level of corruption.
The recent fire that killed 112 people in a Bangladesh factory where some of Wal-Mart's clothes were produced put an additional spotlight on working conditions abroad. And research into the impact that Wal-Mart has on local U.S. communities has revealed nearly the same level of exploitation that Wal-Mart is well-known for across the world. Their use of slave labor is well documented as being instrumental to create "cheap" goods made by poor people in other countries so that poor people in the U.S. can afford them. Wal-Mart is an organization also known for blatant discrimination against women, and for wage and healthcare suppression.
Mexico is clearly a large piece of the pie for a company like Wal-Mart, where 1 in every 5 stores makes its home. Evidence from the United States, Latin America, South America, and Asia indicates a willingness to do whatever it takes to set up shop and expand.
Following the initial revelations of the former executive, Wal-Mart stock got hammered with a 5% loss; the stock now sits near 6-month lows, and this expanding investigation is sure to drive the price even lower. But that's not good enough. Too much has been revealed about Wal-Mart's practices from top to bottom to claim ignorance or justify making a single purchase from them. The number one private employer in the U.S. and Latin America might needs to feel the pain of people walking away.
We shouldn't wait for a legislative solution to what they have created. Chances are that they will escape with fines that might sound large, but will be easily absorbed. They will make public statements about how committed they are to tightening their oversight and improving their relationship with employees and customers. But we shouldn't forget what they already have done when they felt they were beyond scrutiny.
The holidays are the best time to take a stand and refuse to support this known criminal enterprise. The beast of predatory capitalism only thrives from our willingness to provide it sustenance.
The full New York Times investigation can be found here:
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