Tuesday, July 24, 2007

116. Boycotting the bad guys

Angelo has another thought-provoking post at his blog, this time on the Filippino Consul General's argument against the boycott of Herman's Bakery. Shut-UpPinoys

Here's my own take on the matter.

The background
Herman's Bakery is the business run by a family corporation, headed by Juan Tenorio Guerrero, a/k/a Juan Pan. Other Juan Pan businesses include Western Union and MITA travel.

Juan T. Guerrero (Juan Pan) has been president of the Chamber of Commerce, head honcho of the Red Cross, a former Congressman in the CNMI Legislature, Executive of the year, and an otherwise well-recognized and respected community leader in CNMI and Guam. Herman'sHistory

But he's taken a stance against federalization , and opposed the wage hike as well. In fact he said these would be a disaster for the CNMI. PanPredictsDisaster

The call to action
For his opposition to the rights of workers, especially the alien workers, and his opposition to possible improvement in the CNMI through federalization, now there is a call for action against his businesses. A boycott. A boycott of Herman's Bakery products (which are available retail, but also used at KFC and other places), his Western Union business, MITA and any other Juan Pan business.

The call is being sent around by text messaging. (Love technology!) And it's making some waves, getting a little press coverage and prompting a call to Juan Pan himself, while he was in D.C. talking about how the CNMI doesn't need U.S. takeover of immigration and labor.

Juan Pan's response
Juan Pan, when learning of the call for the boycott, tried to paint himself as only a messenger. He said that he is just delivering the message of the Chamber of Commerce because he is its president. And that he has a right to express his own opinions, too. Don'tShootTheMessenger

What? This is a ridiculous response.

Juan Pan fully supports the Chamber's position against federalization. He's been a mover and shaker in the CNMI's effort to stop federalization, speaking out on it, predicting disaster, joining in the meetings. If he had serious qualms about the Chamber's latest position, he could have argued against it at some point. He could have begged off being the "messenger" and let someone else deliver the Chamber's position. His decision to be the one to testify is evidence of his commitment to the opposition to federalization.

And then there's the Chamber's position against grand-fathering in long-term residents. They want to say that all the years people have lived in the CNMI as alien workers doesn't count. That everybody starts over, starts on the date of the new law, assuming one is passed.

And this position, against grandfathering in our long-time resident aliens, is just nasty. Immoral. Cowardice.

the RP Consul General's mistake
The RP Consul General urged everyone to ignore the boycott because it would hurt the workers employed by Juan Pan. It's a "pressure tactic" and that makes it blackmail. And so it would be wrong.

But if you employ that logic, it would mean we could never protest anything. The Boston Tea Party (which is one of the most outrageous acts of vandalism and theft to ever be perpetrated in the name of a cause) would be reduced to nothing more than a crime, not an eloquent demand for freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation and the entire Civil War, fighting against slavery, would be wrong because slave-owners would react, and those poor slaves would have no homes, no place to work, nothing--but freedom. The Resistance against Hitler would be wrong, because trying to undermine his power and pressure him into not torturing and killing Jews would be-well, blackmail. And the German law could be used against your family and other innocents.

Obviously, the RP Consul General's argument is baloney.

Boycott--it's not wrong, it's a right.
There is nothing wrong with concerted effort to boycott. It's a tactic that recognizes how economic endeavors are intertwined with the political. And when you can't make direct progress on the political front, you need to refocus on the economic. There have been some successful boycotts. BoycottPepsiforBurma , TheMontgomeryBusBoycott , and the original boycott, aimed at landreform in Ireland.

So, if you support federalization, the wage hike, and recognition of aliens' long-term residence in the CNMI as a basis for rights, then boycott the Juan Pan businesses.

As for me, I support those things. I'm not a big fan of the U.S. and its handling of immigration at all, but I've come to the conclusion that the CNMI can't make things better on its own because our leaders are all like Juan Pan--getting rich from cheap foreign labor, and thus forgetting the higher moral values in support of equality and liberty, living wages for all and an end to poverty, justice and universal brotherhood that they had instilled by their faith, by their community, and just by living.


The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Great post.

Personally, I don't use any of Juan Pan's businesses. I don't send money to the Philippines, use the Internet when I travel, generally don't eat a lot of bread, and his restaurant is too far away for me to go there (although they have the best french toast on Saipan.)

I am disgusted by the people who should be supporting the boycott who are not, though.

Jeff said...


Saipan Writer said...

Thanks Angelo and Jeff.

Not everyone believes things are so bad that federalization will be an improvement. For some people, things aren't so bad, and they don't really like to look at the lives and desperation of the poor, or don't know how to see it without blaming the victims.

bigsoxfan said...

Great Post, you hit all the feel good issues and some of the real news, but the feds are going to kill what is still existing of the islands business. Look at the tourism numbers for the mainland states. Saipan, at the moment, doesn't have a lot to offer. How long would you wait, when you could go somewhere nearer and cheaper? As far as the poor, go to the PI and then take another look around Saipan. China? fogetabutit