Norberto Valdez leaned against a wall outside Moby Arena, donning a red bandanna hanging around his neck, discreetly gripping a sign reading, “Take the Sweat Out of Sweatshops.”
The CSU anthropology professor and a few dozen others milled around the arena on Thursday night to protest the visit of Ernesto Zedillo, a former president of Mexico and advocate of globalization.
Valdez has many objections to Zedillo’s leadership, which lasted from 1994 to 2000, including what he called the president’s lack of concern for the working class, his economic philosophy and privatization of resources.
“The main thing is the top down corporatist leadership style that he represents,” Valdez said.
Valdez held his signs close to him, as police directed other less discreet sign-carrying protesters to the other side of the street.
“What you’re going to hear tonight is a glossed over, self-serving speech,” said Josh Stolz, a senior liberal arts major. “There’s a lot of people in Mexico who are stuck in poverty.”
Katie Escudero, a junior sociology major, stood outside the north entrance of Moby Arena greeting arrivals to Zedillo’s speech with a friendly ‘hello’ and ‘would you like some information on the speaker?'”
“I just think it’s important that people have the whole story before the go see Zedillo speak,” she said.
Escudero wasn’t with any particular group but there as “just a concerned citizen.”
Matt Luizza, a senior history major, wasn’t with any particular group either.
“It has been called a protest but we are not here to protest, just to give the full story to the people coming here tonight, giving them extra information as to what is going on in Mexico and what has happened in Mexico,” she said.
The distributed information lampooned what protesters called Zedillo’s lack of progress in Mexico.
“We have to help people know the real truth about Mexico and Zedillo’s administration,” said Israel Linarte, a Fort Collins resident.
“He says that he brought progress to Mexico but right now they are building a border fence to keep people in. ”
Linarte, who is from the border town Brownsville, Tex., said he witnessed first hand the plight of poor peasants.
“They wanted to get away from Mexico because there was no prosperity in Mexico,” he said. “NAFTA took away thousands of jobs from peasants in Mexico so they had to flee to find a place to make a decent living for their families”
Denouncing the alleged injustice to the peasants of southern Mexico, in states like Chiapas, was a binding thread for the activists.
One audience member yelled the state’s name during lulls while Zedillo was answering questions from students.
After the speech, Stolz said he was unsurprised by what he heard.
“He talked about how the output of developing countries was instrumental in globalization,” he said, “but at what cost to peasants and indigenous people?”
Others were not so critical of Zedillo’s message.
“I think what he is doing is a noble cause,” said Adrian Kinney, a freshman business administration major. “I liked how he talked about how people are ready for globalization and ready to push forward with it. ”
Staff writer Kevin Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.