As the largest demonstrations in history of human-kind don't seem to have any effect on the plans of Bush regarding Iraq, a growing
number of citizens groups around the globe call for a worldwide consumers boycott of the US economy. "Not an anti-American reflex, nor pro-Saddam, but a difficult step as the United Nations are once again being put aside by the US.
The boycott is a very practical tool for the public to oppose this war." declared Pol D'Huyvetter a spokesperson of For Mother Earth, an international NGO calling for a boycott of US companies who benefit from the war. The targeted companies are very often being contacted by the critical consumers in an effort to reach the White House.
According to IDEA (International group for Direct Economic Action against war), a network and clearinghouse for the global boycott campaign, many political analysts believe that the tactic of the boycott, if embraced by the peace movement as a whole, is the only form of non-violent direct action that could potentially stop or mitigate US attacks on Iraq. If the people opposed to the war were to express their opinion with their wallets by boycotting, the impact on US corporations would be significant.
The fast growing international boycott movement is a grassroots phenomenon, with boycott websites and calls to action springing up independently in diverse locations. Boycott strategies are also diverse, ranging from refusal to purchase any US or UK goods to targeting those corporations known to support Bush or likely to profit from the war.
Here are some of the facts known about the boycott for South-America, the Middle East, the Pacific, Europe, South-Africa and the US. However we also know people around the world are already using their wallet to oppose the war.
In Brazil the federal deputy Chico Alencar ( worker´s party - PT), in Rio de Janeiro announced last Friday (14/03/2003) the campaign to boycott products made in USA, to be implemented if the attack against Iraq happens. " I hope we won´t have to undertake the boycott, but if this unilateral attack from the United States, disregarding the UN, really happens, we will boycott.", says Alencar. Labor unions at Santos, the largest port in Brazil and Latin America, are planning a 24-hour strike for peace by boycotting ships and goods under the U.S. or British banner, a union official said on Monday March 17th. "Labor unions from Santos will meet to vote on proposals on how to voice our desire for peace and our distaste over the coming war in Iraq," said, Marcos Duarte, the president of the Urban Unions of Santos.
Representatives from 70 unions, including the petroleum, chemical, banking, shipping and metallurgical industries, should attend the meeting, set for Tuesday morning, said Duarte, who added that many had expressed firm support for the strike. "We don't know when we will hold the strike but we will vote on proposals tomorrow," he said. "I want to stress that the strike would not be a protest against the United States or Britain but rather against war and for peace.
We are proposing that no adherent to the strike drink a Coca-Cola or go into a McDonald's for lunch," said Duarte. He said the idea came from local TV reports showing U.S. and British bar owners pouring French wine onto the streets in protest of France's threat to veto a new U.N. resolution that would give the go-ahead to a U.S.-led war in Iraq.
As we all know the US foreign policy towards Israel (with ABC weapons), Palestine and Iraq has angered many Muslims. The boycott of US products has hit such American giants as McDonald's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Starbucks, Coke and Pepsi where some company sales have dropped by as much as 65 percent. Two of the six McDonald's franchises in Jordan have closed for lack of business, and KFC and McDonald's branches in Muscat, the capital of Oman, report that sales have fallen by up to 65 percent. In Jordan, a committee representing 14 opposition parties and 14 trade unions has called for citizens to boycott US goods and to purchase French and German goods instead.
In New Zealand, the Spend for Peace campaign is calling for consumers to boycott specific US brands (such as Dow and Dupont) and to notify the companies that they are doing so. In Australia Peace Action calls for a boycott as a positive and powerful alternative to "fighting" for peace. As most people calling for a boycott they declare: "We are not anti-American, or pro-Saddam. We just simply do not believe that war is the answer."
The European Social Forum, which encompasses a multiplicity of organizations from many countries, has called for a boycott of all US oil companies. In the UK, the Stop the War Coalition has expressed support for the ongoing Greenpeace boycott of Exxon-Esso-Mobil oil companies.
In Iceland "Atak gegn stridi" (Campaign against the war) is also calling for a boycott. Elias Davidsson declared that "As Iceland has a very small population (280,000 people), the effects of such a boycott serve to unite the people here against the war."
Also in Italy the call is being networked over the web.
In Belgium For Mother Earth and two other Ngo's have taken the step to call for a boycott which was warmly embraced by the many thousands of demonstrators who marched through the streets of Brussels last Saturday.
In South Africa, the Iraq Action Committee of South Africa has called for a boycott of American and British products to protest the bombing of Iraq.
And finally also in the USA the boycott finds support amongst the opponents to the war. Be the Cause is targeting specific brands (such as Kraft and Philip Morris) for a consumer boycott. The influential Adbusters magazine and website has launched a "Boycott Brand America" campaign, which asks participants to pledge to boycott American corporate brands "from the moment the war begins and to the best of my ability until the empire learns to listen"
The boycott has not merely had adverse results; there is also a consequent effort to produce and consume locally-produced goods instead. The biggest success-story has been Iran's Zam Zam Cola, whose sales have skyrocketed. The manufacturers cannot keep pace with demand from customers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states. In the United Arab Emirates Star Cola is doing brisk business, while an enterprising Muslim in France has come up with the brand name "Mecca Cola". The fact that Muslims are beginning to make products to replace American ones is welcomed by both Muslims and others around the globe.
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Pol D'Huyvetter firstname.lastname@example.org