Campaigners call for boycott of U.S. brands to protest U.S. unilateral policies
20% of Canadian and European consumers avoid U.S brands according to survey
Brussels, 20th February 2005 - During a first demonstration against the visit of President Bush to Brussels the Belgian Boycott Bush network started a series of colorful protests outside the McDonalds and the Bourse/Beurs in the centre of Brussels. Seven activists with masks dressed up as George W. Bush and handed out dollar bills calling for a boycott of U.S. brands. The US presidents wore large lincoln-style hats with the logos of the U.S. multinationals which donated millions of dollars to Bush's re-election campaign. They also carried placards with slogans such as "We love Bush - privatize everything" and "Human rights? On holiday in Guantanamo". Also the skeletal figure Mr. Death joined the protest with a coffin displaying the logos of six main U.S. multinationals which are the targets of the international boycott campaign: the oil campanies Exxon-Mobile (ESSO) and Texaco, the soft drinks giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, the food and cigarettes giant Altria (Philip Morris and Kraft) and McDonalds, the outstanding symbol of U.S. cultural and economic imperialism.
A recent market research conducted by Seattle-based Global Market Insite (GMI) Inc. which questioned 8 000 consumers in 8 different countries between the 10th and 12th December 2004 shows that the current U.S. foreign policies have a negative impact on American businesses (1). Twenty percent of the respondants from Europe and Canada said that they consciously avoid buying U.S. products as a way to protest. These findings are consistent with similar surveys conducted by GMI three weeks after Bush's re-election in November 2004, as well as with research by the British firm NOP World in July of the same year.
Pol D`Huyvetter, from the international boycott campaign coordination secretariat in Belgium, declared: `The economic boycott is an effective non-violent tool with which concerned citizens around the world can vote with their wallets against the aggressive policies of Washington. We need to wake-up and explain to people and social movements that as opposition to the Nazi regime would have boycotted German companies supporting the fascist regime of Hitler, today we need to boycott US multinational corporations as an effective tool to oppose US foreign policies which are the most dangerous threat to international security and peace today`.
Luc Daniels from a Belgian based NGO Americawatchers found that a growing number of community leaders in his country come to understand that one can not protest U.S. foreign policies while drinking a can of Coca Cola, an important sponsor of Bush re-election. Mr. Daniels calls for strengthening the United Nations, which continues to be undermined by the US. Therefore the boycott comes very timely as an effective non-violent weapon as was used by Mahatma Ghandi to drive out the British empire out of India, or end the apartheid regime in South-Africa.
Felipe Van Keirsbilck, who works at the CSC, one of the largest unions in Belgium, calls consumers to use their consumers power to built another world. He calls people to buy local, fair-trade and organic products as an alternative for the U.S. corporate products. He believes that the argument of unemployment created by the boycott is a false one, as the jobs lost in U.S. corporations which are driven by profit, will be replaced by jobs in local companies which respect the environment and human-rights.
Dilys Dana Pierson from the US has been calling for the boycott since the illegal invasion of Iraq: "What can we say about the values that drive US foreign policy today? Vermont supporters of the international boycott believe US foreign policy today is dictated by a belief in dominance through military violence and a belief in fear as a mode of social control and international intimidation. The current US administration believes in an economic system that caters to US corporations and the rich, while nearly one billion of our brothers and sisters on this planet face starvation."
The Boycott Bush network has groups signed up in over 40 countries with many new groups expected to join following the latest World Social Forum in Brazil.
For more information: Boycott Bush
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